Oakland’s city council in July unanimously voted to form a task force to figure out a way to reduce the police department budget by 50% over the next two years.
The move was a response to “the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported, adding that a 17-member Reimagining Public Safety Task Force was created to get things going.
But the paper said the desire to defund the police and the need for police butted right up against each other.
You see, since the beginning of 2020 to the end of October, homicides in Oakland numbered 84 — an increase of 26 over the same time period last year, SFist reported.
More from the Chronicle:
Then a wave of gun violence engulfed the flatlands in East Oakland, home to the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Homicides spiked. Policymakers — and even the most devoted reformers — had to confront a paradox: that the Black and Latino neighborhoods most threatened by police violence are also the ones demanding better and more consistent law enforcement.
Task force members agreed that police brutality against Black and brown people is too common, that gun violence needs to end and that the city needs more services to address the underlying causes of crime. But while advocates wanted swift, dramatic change, others felt conflicted. In neighborhoods with high crime and slow police response times, Black residents winced at what sometimes felt like preaching from outsiders.
A poll released last week by the Chamber of Commerce showed that, citywide, 58% of residents want to either maintain or increase the size of the police force. That figure climbs to 75% in District 7, an area of East Oakland where gunfire exploded this summer.
Notably, the poll showed that support for increasing the size of the police force is higher among Black voters, at 38%, than white voters, at 27%.
One task force member who believes the police budget is too high added to the paper that he cringed when “100 new white folks” lined up at a recent council budget hearing and argued that police are “harmful to Black and brown people.”
Indeed, one resident told the paper that there are those who actually live in East Oakland who are hesitant to call for defunding police and view such a demand as an activist movement spearheaded by those who have no idea what it means to live day to day in the neighborhood.
“Our response times are already slow based on them stating, ‘We just don’t have the manpower to answer the volume of calls we’re receiving,'” the resident told the Chronicle. “If cutting the budget in half means losing officers when we already are short officers, I just think that’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
*story by The Blaze