The sad feud borne of a serious lack of leadership in Oakland just took another ugly turn with the District email that was issued by new Oakland District Three Councilmember Carroll Fife.
To set the stage, watch my video from the awful Chinatown anti-crime event held by Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunado Bas almost two weeks ago, now:
And then, this video made by Nikki Fortunado Bas and with Councilmember Fife, and posted for news distribution by me:
Now, here’s Councilmember Fife’s letter:
Dear movement family,
Last week Mayor Libby Schaaf blamed Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas for a recent spate of violent crimes in Chinatown. I have never seriously used the word “triggered” before, but watching the press conference, I instantly understood the feeling.
To watch a white woman use her power, position and privilege to lie about a woman of color to the news media…it was a blatant act of modern day white supremacy on Schaaf’s part.
Our city’s top leader chose to throw a woman of color under the bus through while dog whistling and using divide and conquer tactics pitting the Asian and Black communities against each other rather than bring people together. It’s the same combination of power, privilege and deceit that has been the historic, galvanizing cry resulting in black death.
Right now, the City needs leadership, not lies. We deserve solutions, not salacious headlines that perpetuate and encourage violence.
Schaaf suggested that recent experiences of violence in Chinatown were a result of the movement to divest from policing and invest in community. In reality, Schaaf voted down the community-led proposal to cut $25 million from the bloated police budget, and instead acted unilaterally to cut $15 million from the police budget without council input. Those were the cuts that occurred outside the legislative process, which eliminated the foot patrols and community-based ambassadors in Chinatown.
It’s been clear to me for years how this system operates to divide and conquer communities of color – but it’s helpful to witness it up close. The neoliberal political class in this city has a strategy to stop the movement to divest from militarized policing and invest in community. They’re pretty open about it actually. In order to delegitimize the movement to divest from policing, Libby Schaaf and her allies are attempting to reframe the narrative.
They want you to think that police keep us safe, that more police means less violence targeting Black, Asian, Indigenous and Latinx people. They want this to be a debate between Black people advocating against state violence targeting our communities, and Asian people advocating for police to keep their communities safe. But in reality, militarized policing doesn’t keep any of us safe.
The movement to divest from policing isn’t trying to take away resources like foot patrols – we’re trying to increase the number of people who are trained and ready to de-escalate conflict and prevent violence in our communities. Expanding community-centered violence prevention programs like Youth Uprising, TRYBE and the Community Ready Corps, will allow us to increase the number of feet on the ground dedicated to true public safety safety, and help prevent the kind of violence recently experienced recently by Chinatown residents and business owners.
For more on this active debate over the true meaning of public safety, watch our livestream public forum on public safety. And help us expose the political tactics being used by Schaaf to scare and scapegoat in reaction to a citywide progressive agenda.
Here are some steps you can take to support:
Pressure Schaaf to apologize to Nikki and to Oakland’s Black and Asian communities via:
Facebook: Mayor Libby Schaaf
I have said so, and will repeat, this is not a good look. Libby should apologize. I think her political sensors are way off the mark, here. That said, name calling by Councilmember’s Bas and Fife is not an example of the leadership we need, either.
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