Oakland artists, small business owners ask city leaders for public safety support

Artists and vendors are tired of the rampant crime in Oakland and asking city leaders for support. They say all their efforts to revitalize the community and do business are being thwarted by crime. 

Crime is soaring in Oakland, with overall rates up 26% and violent crime up 21% compared to this time last year.

Community events meant to bring people together are not always a family friendly experience.

Artist Jon Sarriugarte said he’s been bringing installations to events like Oakland First Fridays and parades for decades.

"I don’t feel safe, and I don’t feel like the city has our back," said Sarriugarte.

He and his family volunteered at the Autumn Lights Festival at Lake Merritt over the weekend and brought their "Project: Empire" bug car art piece. On his way home after tearing down the installation, he said he was caught in a sideshow downtown.

"We saw no police presence," Sarriugarte said. "We were completely surrounded with cars at high speeds on all sides, running every light we could see doing donuts in the street."


Robberies and burglaries are up more than 35% this year, with vehicles being especially targeted.

Enya Sandoval said her food truck was stolen near Piedmont Avenue earlier this week, only two months after she started her dream business, "Miss Chiles."

She told KTVU the endeavor cost her more than $40,000.

"I was really devastated," she said. "My savings, my hopes, my dreams, my happiness, and the loan I have from my sister I still have to pay, all gone, so it was really hard."

She said the community is helping her find it. "Someone actually spotted [the truck] and tried to call the police and I guess there was no response."

Sandoval told KTVU she went to the corner of 35th Avenue and Redwood Road, where someone told her they saw her truck, half an hour after receiving the message, but it was gone. Police were called before she arrived, but she said they were unable to send an officer.

"I’m tired of the finger pointing and I’m tired of just lack of problem-solving," said Sarriugarte, who sent letters to the Oakland Mayor and City Councilmembers.

Sarriugarte received one response from Councilmember Treva Reid, who wrote back, "I regret this is your and too many other experiences as we work to address the public safety crisis with increased resources and response, along with regional collaboration to meet the community demands for safety, security, and peace. We have much more to do and i appreciate your outreach for accountability and action."

Despite the rampant crime, Sandoval still has hope.

"I love this city. I do believe there’s a lot of good people here. We just have to stick together cause this is home to me," she said.

The GoFundMe started by her friend, Patricia Grant, is for Sandoval to get a new truck.

Mayor Sheng Thao said she was doubling down on crime at her first State of the City address on Tuesday. She highlighted the increased foot patrols and small business assistance, saying community safety is her top priority.

OPD, Councilmembers, and the Mayor did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding this report.