Crime-ridden Oakland missed out on millions of dollars in grant funding meant to address rising retail thefts because its liberal leaders failed to meet the grant's application deadline, prompting intense pushback from the deep-blue city's residents.
When California last week announced the recipients of $267 million in state funds to help cities and counties fight organized retail crime, Oakland was not included on the list. That's because the city's government, led by self-described progressive mayor Sheng Thao, missed the deadline to submit its application. While Thao's government in a Thursday statement vowed to review "everything that happened" and "take appropriate action," the city's residents did not respond kindly to the mistake.
"Everyone else turned their homework in on time but, when it gets to Oakland, the excuse is, metaphorically, the dog ate our homework," community leader Seneca Scott told the city's CBS affiliate. "It's not a joking matter. We are in a very dangerous and precarious time for Oakland neighbors and business. … This is an inexcusable missed opportunity."
The city government's snafu comes as Oakland experiences a rise in theft, burglaries, robberies, and violent crime. The crisis has prompted some popular businesses, including one downtown restaurant that served Oakland residents for nearly four decades, to leave the city. Oakland's NAACP chapter, meanwhile, is calling for a state of emergency to combat violent crime, arguing that local leaders such as Thao and George Soros-backed district attorney Pamela Price have created a "heyday for Oakland criminals."
"Residents now know that help will not come when danger confronts them," the chapter said in a July letter. "Worse, criminals know that too."
Oakland's mayoral office did not return a request for comment. As of July, homicides in the city are up 37 percent compared with 2019, while robberies and car break-ins are up 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Vehicle thefts have also more than doubled.
The ongoing crisis led many Oakland business owners and community leaders to condemn the city's failure to take advantage of crime-fighting grant money. 7-Eleven franchisee Ravi Kakkar, whose store was robbed three times in less than a month, urged Thao and other liberal leaders to "take a stronger action." Bishop Bob Jackson, senior pastor at Oakland's Acts Full Gospel Church, had a harsher message.
"You just had to do it in a timely manner," Jackson said. "And because public safety does not seem to be a priority for the leaders in this city, it was not done."
Price, who has presided over Oakland's crime surge since 2022 after taking $130,000 in campaign cash from Soros four years prior, is not the only Soros-backed prosecutor in California who's taking heat for rising retail crime. Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascón is also facing criticism from fellow liberals as repeat offenders commit viral smash-and-grab robberies at high-end retailers across the area.
"We are f—ing terrified because these start out as low-level crimes, but it has gradually exploded," one former Gascón supporter told the New York Post. "These criminals are not getting prosecuted and they know it. It's off the rails."