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Indybay Feature
Mayor Schaaf Rents Oakland Police Officers to Home Depot
by ann nomura (anomurapt [at]
Monday Jul 15th, 2019 5:28 PM
Oakland Mayor Schaaf's rent a police officer program at Home Depot.
The Oakland Police Department (OPD), Mayor Schaaf, her Homeless Eviction Czar, Joe Defries, and their PR mouthpiece the San Francisco Chronicle are working overtime to redefine every Oakland problem, as a crime problem, with police as the only solution. As crime drops, the mayor continues overfund police services at the expense of libraries, streets, parks and people. The latest fabricated crisis is the Home Depot encampment. The San Francisco Chronicle turns of homeless hit pieces faster than then Telsa turns out batteries.

One might have thought Oakland’s troubled police force would pause and attempt to build a more trusting relationship with the unsheltered after officers  killed a sleeping homeless man and with ongoing problems with  accountability and compliance with reforms, but OPD never changes, and neither does the mayor. Libby Schaaf and OPD have doubled down on Oakland’s unhoused, deploying OPD as private corporate security for Home Depot,  

For those not from Oakland let’s start with some background. Oakland -the CIty of Dope- has historically had high crime: property and violent and has had high availability of drugs legal and illegal. In spite Oakland and Alameda County’s long history with addiction and its obvious contributory influence on crime, hopelessness and suffering; there is no long-term inpatient recovery program available to Oakland’s residents, housed or unhoused. Oakland treats the disease of addiction, and its symptoms: crime, poverty, hopelessness and homelessness with incarceration, harassment, and hospitalization, for the medical problems caused by addiction.

Oakland and Alameda County has no viable long-term inpatient recovery programs to treat the root cause-addiction. Those who live surrounded by drugs and poverty must find the money and means (Lyft and Uber don’t do encampments) to get to outpatient recovery. This fails for the obvious reasons. So ambulances and OPD drive residents suffering from addiction in endless circles between hospitals, courts, and jails, where they are stabilized medically, processed legally, and released until their next crisis.

Crime in Oakland is a huge issue for businesses. Small businesses in Oakland pay high taxes, and make a huge contribution to our community. They regularly deal with far worse crimes than those reported at Home Depot and they have never been provided with OPD for private security. They are lucky if they can get a crime report, and crimes against them are seldom investigated or solved. Mayor Schaaf has clearly offered OPD as “private security” at this location because of the proximity of the encampment of unhoused residents.

Displacement and corporatization of housing have reached crisis proportions in Oakland,  creating both a homelessness and a worsened trash/illegal dumping crisis. Rents double, triple, quadruple, homes get flipped and divided Airbnb’d. Construction waste and household items, are constantly stacked in front of homes, they gets illegally dumped across the city and upcycled into homeless encampments. Our local leaders in their infinite wisdom blame “illegal dumpers” and the unhoused for this problem. There is no discussion of an eviction, displacement tax for property owners who turn out tenants, or a short-term rental fee to cover the cost of trash created by the current “hotelization” of Oakland’s housing. According to our leaders, low budget hauling, illegal dumping and the unhoused have created this problem and over-policing will solve it. Unsustainable inhumane housing practices, irresponsible construction, and development practices have turned Oakland into a dumpyard. Real-estate investors and developers, big political donors have created a trash crisis and the unhoused interfere with their business model. So OPD is tasked with harassing the unhoused (often elderly and mentally or physically disabled) for pulling a discarded mattress into a bush to sleep on.

Many of Oakland’s unhoused have severe illness, disabilities and are seniors. Every eviction or crisis where OPD or an ambulance picks them can result in the loss of the equipment and medications they need. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, medications, shoes  and clothes get lost or discarded. Wheelchair bound residents complain that they get targeted by OPD for searches because they feel vulnerable and are more likely to carry a weapon than an able resident. Neighbors and leaders encourage each other to report the homeless for nuisance crimes. OPD responds and hustles them out of the neighborhood. OPD and the Mayor cheer residents for fighting crime and cleaning up their community, as OPD harasses the unhoused off their streets.

Clearly Libby Schaaf and her Eviction Czar, Joe Defries, have their laser focus on encampment and at Home Depot and  they think Oakland Police Department is the best solution. So much for creating trust and collaboration between OPD, the City of Oakland, and our unhoused residents. The Mayor has decided to double down on over-policing and is now renting out Oakland Police Officers, as security guards, to corporations, who complain about crime and the “unhoused.”

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