Burgeoning crime, struggling businesses and underfunded police have turned Oakland, California, into a “ghost town,” said a local safe neighborhoods advocate who believes the city’s decline is set to continue into 2024.
“We’re in a doom loop,” Seneca Scott, founder of Neighbors Together Oakland, a nonprofit focused on safety issues, told Fox News. “The doom loop means businesses leave because of the crime and problems, there’s less money to hire more police to solve the problem, and down you tumble.”
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“2024 is sadly going to continue the trajectory that we’re on now,” he continued, adding that Oakland will become “less livable and less safe.”
Violent crime in Oakland increased 22% this year, according to the most recently available police data, which also show a nearly 10% increase in commercial burglary. In September, over 200 business owners shut down their stores to strike against the government’s handling of public safety amid rising crime. The protest was held days after city officials admitted to missing a deadline to apply for state funding to fight retail theft.
COMMUNITY ADVOCATE WARNS OAKLAND WILL BE CAUGHT IN A ‘DOOM LOOP’ IN 2024:
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That same month, Oakland city leaders launched a grant program to provide funding for small business owners to hold events — like workout classes, musical performances and movie nights — to draw customers to local shops that have seen a decrease in patrons due to crime.
“Community safety is one of my administration’s top priorities, and this program will boost foot traffic and help our City create safe, welcoming, inclusive, and thriving communities,” Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said.
But Oakland is not thriving, Scott told Fox News.
“Oakland is now a ghost town, and people are scared to go outside,” he said. “So we’re hunkering down, and we’re sheltering in place due to the escalating violence and unsafety in our city.”
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The Oakland Police Department, meanwhile, has been without a head since February, when Thao fired then-Chief LeRonne Armstrong after an independent investigation found he mishandled a misconduct probe. On Wednesday, Thao rejected the police commission’s entire list of potential replacements, forcing the months-long process to restart.
And the defund the police movement led to more crime in Oakland, Scott previously told Fox News.
There have been over 14,500 reported motor vehicle thefts in Oakland, according to police data. On average, nearly two cars are stolen every hour in the city.
Further, lax prostitution laws have also led to “open-air sex trades and drug markets that would shock people,” Scott said. Earlier this year, sex workers were caught on camera working outside a Catholic school.
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“So we’ve lost all rule of law in Oakland, which leads to a situation where you would think elected officials would change their course,” Scott told Fox News. He said that despite the rising crime, city officials’ approach to the problems remains unchanged.
“The only thing that has gotten better is that finally neighbors are waking up and organizing and getting ready for the 2024 election cycle to kick the crazy people out of office and restore,” Scott said. “All of these [problems] are results of failed progressive policies.”
Oakland’s City Hall did not respond to a request for comment.
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