Lacking Police Presence, Oakland Residents Take Control of Their Streets



A couple of years ago, Sonny Le and his five-year-old son were approaching their front gate in Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood after school when Le saw two men running towards them.

“One was trying to go behind us — the maneuver trying to corral your prey, basically,” he says. “The other one started coming right at me, at us. He put his hoodie on. It was like, OK, these kids gonna rob us.”

His fatherly instincts kicked in as the young men approached.

  • Flickr user katastrophik
“One in front pulled his sweat jacket aside and showed me his gun,” he recalls. “It was shiny, brand new. I said, 'Look, don’t do anything stupid. My son is here. Here’s the money, take the money and run. Get out of here, don’t do anything stupid.' I gave him my wallet.”

The guys took $35 and fled. Le called the police. They arrived just a few minutes later, but didn’t catch the robbers.

In 2012, Oakland’s crime rate has surged. In 2012, violent crimes rose 23 percent, and burglaries spiked more than 40 percent. Meanwhile, those rapid police response became increasingly rare — it’s been three years since the OPD responded to burglaries and other non-emergency situations.

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