The recall effort was launched just one week after Officer Tuan Le was killed in the line of duty. The group behind the effort said the mayor has failed to control crime and the city can't wait until the next election for new leadership.
Recall organizers collected signatures at the Mountain Boulevard U.S. Postal Office on Friday. They brandished signs that called for the mayor's ouster.
"It's time for her to go. She hasn't done anything to improve Oakland," said retired Alameda County Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte.
There was a passionate response from some Oakland residents. Christopher Cook was among those who signed a petition to put a recall on November's ballot.
"This is the first time I've ever done it," said Cook. "We need someone who understands business, finances and can manage the city in an intelligent way."
Mayor Thao has only been in office one year. Critics said they're fed up with what they see as Thao's lack of action to control the city's crime, pointing to high-profile attacks on businesses and residents. And now the fatal shooting of a police officer.
"We need a strong mayor. We need a mayor that has experience and knows how to deal with the situations in Oakland," said Liz Spander, of Oakland.
Oakland resident Enrique Godinez said he's looking for a stronger and faster response for the community. "I just feel she's not fit for the job," he said. "I was just distraught that Oakland brought in the New Year, burying one of its officers. That's one of the saddest things."
Julius Robinson of Oakland said people are trying to come together as a community, but there is a lack of infrastructure and leadership.
"We've had a tremendous turnout. The interest is incredible," Harbin-Forte said of the newly-launched effort. "The reason it falls on this particular mayor is that she's done things to exacerbate the problem."
The retired judge, a vocal critic of Thao's on the police commission, said the firing of former police chief LeRonne Armstrong was a baseless firing. Last June, Harbin-Forte was ousted by Thao.
She said Armstrong's firing last February and a failure to find a new chief is just one of many frustrations. She criticized the mayor, partly placing blame on her for businesses shutting down.
"If we had not missed a deadline to apply for a grant to deal with retail theft…if we hadn't had all of those things, I would not have anything at all to talk about," she said.
Harbin-Forte said this recall effort is not political payback, but frustrated residents pushing back.
However, not all Oakland residents support a recall.
"I think, I mean, everyone [has] an opportunity to have a second chance, you know?" said one woman who did not give her name.
"Give her some time. It's a hard job," said Dwight Fisher of Oakland. "She got police issues. We got crime. We got homelessness. We got a lot of stuff we deal with. However, we'll get through it."
Harbin-Forte said they plan to mail the formal intent to recall letter Saturday at noon.
Mayor Thao has seven days to formally respond. If the city clerk certifies the signatures, proponents must prepare a formal recall petition for circulation.
Proponents would need signatures from at least 10% of registered voters in Oakland to proceed.
KTVU reached out to Mayor Thao and her staff, but we did not hear back from her office.