A News crew in Oakland, California was held at gunpoint midway through an interview with Oakland's head of violence prevention, Guillermo Cespedes, after the city's Democratic leaders decided to divert $18 million away from police amid a spike in violent crime.
The incident took place Monday afternoon on the steps of Oakland City Hall - hours after Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong decried the reallocated $18 million - as NBC affiliate KNTV was interviewing Cespedes. As the East Bay Times' George Kelly reports:
Just after 6 p.m., police said in a statement that two suspects approached a cameraperson filming during an interview at 3:09 p.m. before trying to take the camera at gunpoint.
After a scuffle ensued, “the armed security officer pulled his firearm out, and directed the suspects to leave. The suspects immediately left the area without the camera,” and were still outstanding, police said.
Officers, including a police spokesperson, responded to the scene during an investigation. There were no injuries, police said.
“Please be advised that the suspects are still outstanding,” police said. “We encourage everyone to be vigilant of their surroundings and report all crimes. Please stay safe.”
In a statement, an Oakland city spokesperson confirmed that Department of Violence Prevention Chief Guillermo Cespedes was the person being interviewed outside City Hall.
The $18 million diverted from the city's proposed $674 million police budget will be reallocated to the city's relatively new Department of Violence Prevention, headed by Cespedes - who joined in 2020. Diverting the funds was the idea of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
According to SFGate, the Department, formed in 2017, has a focus on "community-led intervention strategies" to prevent violent crime, somehow. "Oakland has seen 65 homicides so far this year; there were a total of 74 in 2019 and 102 in 2020," per the report.