Oakland “Crime Wave” Threatens Berkeley
by Steed Dropout
Jan. 13, 2013
Bordering Berkeley’s South side, Oakland’s problems spill-over.
Thursday in Oakland, a panel of Oakland journalists called Oakland’s high murder rates the number one Bay Area story, despite audience response that blamed them for sensationalism.
Entering January 2012, Oakland recorded 115 murders, on course to beat its historic high of 125 in 1998. According to Bob Gammon, editor of the East-Bay Express, Oakland has more murders than similar sized cities across the country.
Timberlinn Drummond, born and raised in Oakland and now columnist for Bay Area News Group noted that Oaklanders in all neighborhoods cower in fear and denial in their homes wondering if they’ll be the next to be slaughtered.
Drummond dubbed International Boulevard “Hoodlum International Blvd.”
An audience of more than one hundred jammed Oakland’s Temple Sinai, near “Pill-Hill,” at eight o’clock to get the scoop on Oakland’s “crime wave crisis” from media heavies.
Oakland’s number one story is Berkeley’s story, too.
On Nov. 18, a “Fuck the Police” march sponsored by two Occupy Movements, Occupy Oakland and Occupy Cal surprised Berkeley Police with its peaceful outcome. I covered that peaceful march, joining it at 10:20 p.m, and sticking with the story until after 1 a.m.
The next morning, I learned that Peter Cukor, 67, had been murdered in an exclusive hills neighborhood over-looking the bay. The city of Berkeley Police, although called by the victim shortly before he was murdered, blamed Occupy Oakland.
Incredibly, they maintained that they were distracted with preparations for expected violent demonstrations — deflecting at least one officer from a race up Marin to the complainant. Had that officer not been re-directed by a dispatcher, Cukor’s death might have been averted, according to a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley filed recently by Cukor’s family.
Berkeley radicals lost no time ridiculing Berkeley police. In the recent Berkeley mayor’s race, one candidate called for Berkeley Police Chief Michael K. Meehan’s head. “He killed that man in the hills.” the candidate charged.
I interviewed highly-placed sources at both UCPD and BPD, and concluded that their fears of uncontrollable violence in Berkeley, Nov. 18. were founded on “facts,” as they interpreted them. They told me they based their fears on “intel,” and some radicals freely admitted to me that internet buzz promulgated a fuck-the-police threat.
Such FTP Oakland actions had erupted in violence at the height last year of an international populist movement — Occupy.
The Cukor case heads the list of Oakland’s crime wave spillover. There have been murder-victims in cars abandoned in the wealthy Elmwood District, near a Highway 13 off-ramp. Berkeley is nestled in a web of freeway and city street connections from Oakland.
The affluent, if cramped, Rockridge area, has just a hop-ski-and-a-jump from the Berkeley border, has hosted a corpse or two, or been one, perhaps because of its proximity to Oakland. Actually it is Oakland, but so far North you wouldn’t notice.
Then there is record-high crime rates at U.C. Berkeley — a mark for various cons and petty thieves, but more serious battery sex-crimes. As goes Oakland, so goes Berkeley.
At four homicides in 2012, Berkeley is hardly a murder capitol, although this year’s homicides were sad, and shocking. One victim, the first of 2012, was riddled with more than eighty gun-shots. Even after he was dead, his killer climbed a flight of stairs to plug his victim some more.
That ganster-style killer is still at large. The only Berkeley killer known to police was the mentally-ill killer of Cukor, who had journeyed from an Oakland flop-house by bus to the hills in a delusional quest for his imagined girlfriend. He was apprehended at the crime scene because he was too ill to run away.
Although criminologists have quarreled with FBI national crime rankings for more than half a century, those stats for 2011 rank Berkeley eleventh in violent crimes (including homicides) among more or less same-size cities.
Berkeley, with its two police departments (BPD approximately 170; UCPD, 64), has not been beset with massive lay-offs as has Oakland, which reportedly is missing more than two hundred officers on the ground. BPD Chief Meehan has told audiences that BPD has met budget restraints by reducing or leaving unfilled new support staff jobs.
Although the Cukor lawsuit has yet to be resolved, it remains to be seen if a dispatcher error (staff support) will play a role, and whether staff lay-offs were a factor.
If you are lost at this point, I’ll make it clear: The Fuck the Police march killed Peter Cukor, and that demonstration began in Oakland. What I need to know is how many criminal citations go to Oaklanders. In the meantime, you’ll just have to do with metaphors. symbols, and innuendo.
More than one panelist referred to Oakland as a haven for murderers.
Journalist panelists Thursday agreed that Oakland police were clueless about preventing murders, solving cases, tracking guns, or crime trends. Panelists agreed that staffing cuts on the beat and in its crime lab as well as the sheer numbers of crimes had overwhelmed them.
When Cal students return from winter break in January, Sex-criminals, pick-pockets, voyeurs, exhibitionists, gropers, and other miscreants will return with them. Sex-crimes peak at this time.
Are these perps from Oakland? Some are from Richmond, as well.
But Berkeley’s homicide rate never exceeds five. Have we dodged some bullet? We’re in bed with Oakland, yet we seem to be on the safe side of that bed.
The three journalist’s-panel blamed Oakland’s woes on staff cut-backs at OPD,
public fear of criminal retaliation to snitches, public helplessness, and a dismal record of catching murderers, as factors causing the murder-wave. This is right out of depression-era Bonny and Clyde, who solved their depression blues by making violent bank withdrawals.
As the murders mount, OPD struggles to keep up, according to the journalists.
Oakland police, are not only understaffed, but hindered by cuts to its crime lab, and a meddlesome and clueless mayor, they say.
Perhaps Berkeleyans, on a diet of three to five annual murders, will breath relief, but that would be wasted exhalation.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the journalists’ explanations — they left out the causes of Oakland murders–a rent-a-crook situation, in which crooks gravitate to Oakland’s come-on-down, open crime environment. Past Oakland crime sprees have resulted from, reportedly, as much sixty percent outside agitator/perps.
A faction within Occupy Oakland, which had violently clashed with cops last year was possibly OPD’s last hardship. Oakland cops have experienced widespread rebuke for their conduct. Even worse, police were diverted during a city-wide crime-wave–and broke the bank.
The word is out. Oakland is crime friendly. Those crimes are dominated by murder and armed home invasions, say the journalists who cover the story.
The journalist’s panel blamed public indifference, failure to co-operate with police, and
a “leadership gap” in both OPD and Oakland governance. “Mayor Jean Quan,” said the Chronicle’s Chip Johnson, “is not qualified” to dictate police policy, which he said she was doing.
According to the panel, OPD has not a snowball in Hell’s chance to cure its homicide horrors.
Berkeley has so far avoided Oakland’s human carnage, but for how long?
Dropout adds. If Berkeleyans think they are threatened by street people, open drugs, and alcoholism, by development, or ridiculous laws and governance, they might try moving to just about any Oakland neighborhood to see just how scary life can be.