'Stand Up for a Safe Oakland' rally draws community together to denounce violence

There were two separate events in Oakland Saturday fighting for the same cause, to stop the violence.

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong says the shootings in Oakland are happening daily and many people don’t feel safe.

"We are in a state of emergency.  We are in a state of emergency," said a second-generation Oaklander while characterizing the violence in what she called her "beloved city."

The statement was uttered at one of two anti-violence rallies Saturday afternoon.

"We cannot sit silent anymore," said Armstrong.

At the "Stand Up for a Safe Oakland" rally at Lake Merritt’s Amphitheater, an event the chief organize, he said combating violence will require a multi-pronged approach.

"Let’s stand up together, let’s unite, the department, violence prevention and the community, the three very important components," said Armstrong.

$18 million was recently redirected from the police budget to social services aimed a violence prevention, a move the chief has criticized.

He told the crowd police will now need the community to get actively involved in stopping the violence, and his supporters agree.

"I don’t know what that is for each and every one of you," said Father Jayson Landeza, Pastor of Saint Benedict Catholic Church.  "That could be distinctly different for all of you, but do something instead of just complaining about all the different kinds of shortcomings our city has."

A separate rally organized by community groups and the Anti-Police Terror Project began as a caravan and ended as a BBQ at Lowell Park.

The crowd celebrated violence prevention efforts getting more financial backing.

And the city councilwoman representing the district scoffed at the notion that police are somehow being defunded.

"It’s simply not true," said Councilmember Carroll Fife.  The city of Oakland has increased the police department budget by $38.5 million and that is more than they had in the previous budget, so we need to number one correct that myth."

The myriad causes and solutions to fighting the violence are still being debated.

But there was common ground at both rallies: the agreement that violence is spiraling out of control, and it will take a community to stop it.

"We have to come together.  This is not about politics.  This is about saving lives.  This is about healing a community that is dealing with trauma on a daily basis," said Armstrong.

"It doesn’t matter who you are, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and what community you are, we all want one thing. We want to have a safe Oakland," said Carl Chan, with the Oakland Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

At the police chief’s rally, they displayed a coffin along with 71 white flowers, each one representing the 71 people who have been killed in Oakland so far this year.