Time to Listen to Each Other

From the General Strike, photo by Pamela DrakeEveryone is gearing up for a rough city council meeting tonight; and as a result of last week’s Public Safety Committee meeting, some council members have been sending out notices to their constituents to pack the hall with supporters for 4 public safety measures.

Those council members who have called their constituents to come on down, have failed to explain why they support the Bratton contract with specifics. I’m calling on them to be clear about what Bratton will be asked to do and what he will not be asked to do. I would like someone to explain the interface between the Bratton/Wasserman folks, and what Judge Henderson and his compliance managers will allow given the Negotiated Settlement Agreement which may be the key to this controversy. Is Stop and Frisk equal to racial profiling? If it is, how is it possible Henderson would allow it?

But no one can deny that Oakland as well as some of our surrounding communities is in a public safety crisis. People who live in formerly “safe” neighborhoods have discovered some of the dangers that people who live in East and West Oakland have lived with for a long time.

More people are afraid now than I can ever remember and the list of the dead is growing at an alarming rate. Still, this is not the time to rush into half-baked solutions or to demand  gimmicks-state of emergency, curfews-instead of well-thought out policies.

There is evidence that Bratton and his compatriots have accomplished some good things re crime and community complaints in Los Angeles. But there is also lots of evidence that many Oaklanders continue to experience brutality and harassment at the hands of our police force. Regardless of how one acts at a meeting, or whether the aggrieved parties are making these demands, our local citizenry has every right to demand reassurance when it comes to how new crime-cutting strategies  will affect all members of the community.

We all deserve a real conversation about these issues. We owe it to one another to listen and be given time to change our minds and even change them again. This is an ongoing crisis that demands both long and short term solutions. What it doesn’t demand is dueling crowds, shouting matches, threats of arrest for hecklers or fear mongering by any of us.

I will see you at the Council meeting tonight. I will be demanding answers to these questions and really listening to the responses I get before coming to a conclusion. I hope you will do the same.