Crisis-stricken California City Cracks Down on Progressive Mayor

By: Georgia | Published: Jun 20, 2024

This November, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao will face a recall election, prompted by growing dissatisfaction among residents with her handling of increasing crime rates. 

This event is unprecedented, as Thao is the first mayor in Oakland’s history to potentially be recalled.

Overwhelming Call for Change

Over 40,000 signatures have been gathered by the Oakland United to Recall Sheng Thao (OUST) campaign, reflecting a widespread desire for new leadership. 

Mayor Sheng Thao smiling, standing in front of the American and several other flags at a public event, with an unidentified man to her right

Source: MayorShengThao/X

The group accuses Thao of “incompetence and dishonesty,” blaming these traits for accelerating the city’s downturn.


A Surge in City Crime

Oakland’s crime rate has taken a sharp turn for the worse, with homicides rising from 78 in 2019 to 126 last year. 

A wide aerial shot of downtown Oakland showing various buildings and the distant Bay Bridge on a clear day

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Overall crime spiked by 18% in 2023, fueling a palpable tension and increasing unease among the city’s residents.

Home Invasions Hit New High

In the early months of 2024, Oakland reported a 118% increase in residential robberies compared to the previous year. 

A black and white Oakland police car parked on a city street, with classic architecture visible in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This alarming trend is raising serious concerns about public safety and the city’s strategy to address crime.

Car Thefts Soar

Last year, Oakland faced an extraordinary wave of auto thefts, with one in every 30 cars being stolen. 

Top-down view of a densely packed parking lot filled with cars of various colors, arranged in orderly rows

Source: Ivana Cajina/Unsplash

This staggering rate of theft poses significant challenges for community safety and well-being.

Businesses Flee Over Safety Concerns

Several major companies have left Oakland, driven away by a significant rise in retail theft and employee safety concerns. 

Mayor Sheng Thao speaking at a podium with Oakland Police Department logos, flanked by two police officers

Source: MayorShengThao/X

Their departure signals a troubling loss of confidence in the city’s governance and its impact on the local economy.


A City's Struggle with Violence

A chilling event in August 2023 saw a woman being brutally robbed and dragged by assailants. 

A group of Oakland police officers gathered around their patrol cars at night, eating and discussing, with shipping containers visible in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This violent act, caught on video, has become a symbol of the severe crime wave sweeping through Oakland, sparking outrage and fear among the populace.


Iconic Burger Joint Closes Doors

After nearly two decades, the only In-N-Out Burger in Oakland has closed, citing safety concerns for its staff and patrons despite its continued profitability. 

The exterior of an In-N-Out Burger restaurant during sunset, with cars parked outside

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This closure reflects the worsening security environment in the city.


Dining Under Lockdown

In response to the escalating violence, local fast food restaurants like Taco Bell have stopped offering indoor dining to protect their customers and employees. 

A Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco open on its wrapper, showing the taco filled with beef, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes, with a Taco Bell logo visible

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This step marks a significant shift in business operations due to the city’s safety challenges.


Corporate Investment in Safety

In an effort to safeguard their employees amid rising crime, leading corporations including Kaiser, PG&E, Clorox, and Blue Shield have invested $10 million in enhanced security measures. 

A dramatic view of Oakland's cityscape at dusk, with the city illuminated by the setting sun creating a silhouette of buildings against a cloudy sky

Source: Ronan Furuta/Unsplash

This move illustrates the businesses’ proactive stance in a city struggling with effective crime response.


Unconventional Tactics to Curb Violence

Mayor Thao has proposed unique solutions, such as life coaching, to combat the city’s rising crime rates. 

Mayor Sheng Thao smiling and speaking at an Oakland Police event, standing behind a lectern with the police logo

Source: MayorShengThao/X

These proposals have faced criticism, however, with many doubting their efficacy in dealing with serious crimes, including homicides.


A Community's Plea for Accountability

Oakland’s citizens are clamoring for Mayor Thao’s recall, deeply unsatisfied with her leadership amidst the city’s growing public safety crisis. 

Mayor Sheng Thao shaking hands with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, both smiling, with the American flag and the Presidential seal in the background

Source: MayorShengThao/X

The OUST campaign sharply criticizes her, saying, “You created a public safety crisis by systematically dismantling the Oakland Police Department, leading to the city’s reputation as one of the most dangerous in America.”