Armed robbers held up a television news crew Monday in Oakland during an interview with the city’s director of violence prevention. The heist was thwarted by security but it happened in the middle of the day. The crime happened right outside City Hall and came just hours after the police chief ripped a decision to cut the police department’s budget by $18 million. The funds will be redirected to support alternatives to law enforcement like the Department of Violence Prevention.
The news crew was filming around 3 p.m. when two armed suspects tried to take one of their cameras. A fight broke out as they fought over the camera when a private security guard hired by the news agency pulled out his gun and told the robbers to beat it.
The suspects fled without the camera and no one was hurt, the Oakland Police Department said in a statement. Embarrassingly, for every Democrat in Washington and California, the television news crew was interviewing Guillermo Cespedes. He is the head of the city’s Department of Violence Prevention.
An Oakland, California, police chief spoke out on Monday against city leaders after they voted to divert nearly $20 million from law enforcement amid an alarming spike in crime.
Last Thursday, council members voted 6-2 to remove $18.5 million from a proposed increase to the Oakland Police Department’s budget. The law enforcement body will have $674 million to spend, compared to $665 million the previous year, though the increase is markedly less than the proposed $27 million spearheaded by Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat. Last year’s police funding accounted for 20% of the city’s budget, while this year’s makes up 18%.
“I’m challenged by the decisions that were made on Thursday around the budget for the city of Oakland, particularly for the Oakland Police Department,” Chief LeRonne Armstrong said in a news conference.
“We see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland, and our response was for less police resources … when City Council members — the majority of them have voted to defund this Police Department. That additional $17 million will have an impact,” he added.
Oakland has seen 65 reported homicides so far in 2021, equating to a 90% increase when compared to numbers from 2020, Armstrong said. Shootings have risen 70%, carjackings are up 88%, and the city has been hit with 1,300 robberies so far in 2021, equating to an 11% increase.
The law enforcement boss said the cuts will slow crime response times, restrict him from hiring violence prevention officers, and reduce the number of policemen in the department. He insisted the force will be bringing on 60 officers over the next few months, though he will be losing 65 due to attrition. The changes may result in “mandatory overtime.”
“The impact will be immediate with slower response times for emergency calls for service,” the chief said.
“We already have a tough time responding to the high number of calls that we get. This will make it tougher, having less officers in the field, particularly for marginalized communities,” he added.
Armed robbers held up news crew as it interviewed Oakland's chief of violence prevention: https://t.co/As4rCDjMlS— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 29, 2021
Can’t make this up: Robbers hold up TV crew interviewing Oakland chief of violence prevention https://t.co/UhGUQ6IYSQ And they got away.— Dan Morain (@DanielMorain) June 29, 2021
Oakland's plan? Defund the police.https://t.co/d4gU7V0vap— Steve Adams (@SteveAdams80182) June 29, 2021