Angry crowd of more than 500 turn out for Oakland meeting on crime and violence

A frustrated and angry crowd of more than 500 people turned out on Tuesday night for a community meeting on crime and violence in Oakland. 

District One City Councilmember Dan Kalb organized the community meeting at the Oakland Tech High School Auditorium, and took the stage with Jeff Thomason of Oakland Police and Kentrell Killens, the interim chief of the Department of Violence Prevention.

Some people in the crowd shouted at the city officials on stage. Many others lined up to share their frustrations and stories of violence in their neighborhood.

"It's one of the most terrifying things in my life," said Denise Lillian, who said she's an Oakland resident and was attacked last Monday. 

She said at first, when she saw the young people approaching she thought they needed help. Instead, she says she was brutally beaten.

"On the corner of 45th and Shafter, they pulled me down on the ground, punching, kicking, dragging me through the street," said Lillian, who added her neighbors came to help her when she screamed and the attackers left without getting her purse.

A business owner said he worried about his employee's lives with multiple robberies.

"My staff has been held at gunpoint 4 times in 6 years. The last time my staff was held at Oakland native military veteran, black male from Oakland almost got shot and killed," said Adam Stemmler, co-owner of Arthur Mac's Tap and Snacks.

One father said he wants the city to send a message of zero tolerance.

"We need to stop the violence and killers. We're coming after you all," the man said.

Oakland police say they are going to work on getting more visible patrols through the neighborhoods.

Kalb says he will push for more consequences.

"If they are committing these violent crimes repeatedly, then we can't just say please don't do this again. We have to catch them and have consequences," Kalb said. "I will send another email letter to the district attorney talking about this very thing."

Kalb also wants to make sure the police overtime budget is preserved.

"I am concerned that the proposed budget has a reduction in available overtime. And when you have a certain number of police officers and certain needs, if you don't have enough overtime availability then you can't fill the gaps," Kalb said.

The Oakland Department of Violence Prevention's interim chief Kentrell Killens and Oakland Unified School District board-member Sam Davis said the city has seen success with their intervention teams working directly with troubled youth to steer them away from violence and crime, but the city budget doesn't cover all schools.

"These are teams of three people, and they help students who are struggling," Davis said.

"We'd probably need 6-9 individuals to have teams at every high school in Oakland," Killens added.

Many people said as they left that they hope there are more opportunities for residents to voice their concerns.

Kalb says he will follow up on the issues raised with the area police captain.