Calls to divert police funding to community programs at Lake Merritt vigil



More than 200 people gathered at Lake Merritt on Tuesday evening to honor the victims of the deadly shooting that took place on Saturday.

One man was killed and seven others were injured.

During the event, some city council members called for a change in the way violence is prevented. They say more police are not the answer.

Some city council members say this incident is an example of why they want to cut funding from the police department’s budget for the next two years.

“We need to prevent the type of gun violence that happened at the lake long before it was a possibility,” said Nikki Fortunato Bas, president of Oakland City Council.

It proposes a reduction of $ 18 million from the police budget proposed by the mayor of $ 340,000,000.

Bas wants the funds to go to violence prevention and mental health programs.

“A lot of these young people need programs. They need a place. They have nothing to do,” says Bilal Mahasin, an Oakland resident.

“Preventing violence would not have stopped what happened on Saturday,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said, as the situation at Lake Merritt on Saturday would have been much worse without the dozens of officers who reacted quickly.

Armstrong says 60 officers in a crowd of 5,000 saved their lives.

“We had officers on the scene putting tourniquets on people’s legs, officers wrapping the arms of people with gunshot wounds.”

The police chief says the department is already understaffed and a reduction would mean the freezing of 41 officer positions.

Oakland Police have fewer officers than San Francisco and San Jose, but Oakland has a higher crime rate.

“Already their response is slow,” says Rick Paris, an Oakland resident. He and his wife say their neighborhood has been the scene of vandalism and violence.

They don’t want police cuts.

“There are a lot of reasons to have the police around. I had people shot dead in my neighborhood. I’m the one calling them and pushing them out,” said Paris.

The goal is to make Oakland a safer place. The disagreement is about how to get there.

Oakland City Council is due to vote on the budget on Thursday.



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