Signature Collection for Recall Against Oakland Mayor Officially Begins | WATCH

Da Lin

*OAKLAND, California (KPIX) — The signature collection to recall Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao officially started on Saturday, with organizers kicking off the campaign in Jack London Square. Supporters of the recall blame the mayor for the rising crime.

Oakland police said robberies, burglaries, and violent crimes all of went up by double digits in 2023 compared to 2022. Meanwhile, many businesses shut down citing crime, especially along the Hegenberger corridor.

“This specific area used to thrive on game day, whether it was the Raiders, the A’s, or the Warriors. It was amazing,” said East Oakland native Duane Tatum, who lives near The Coliseum. “It’s frustrating because you start thinking about all the economic activity you’re losing.”

With businesses gone, so are the jobs and tax revenue.

Sheng Thao - screenshot
Sheng Thao – screenshot

He said the job loss hits his East Oakland community the hardest.

“I was tired of complaining about it. I wanted to put my feet on the ground and actually tried to turn this thing around. You’ve got other cities that are thriving. We’re headed the opposite way,” said Tatum.

He is volunteering to collect signatures to recall Mayor Thao. He and other recall supporters blamed the mayor for failing to apply for millions of dollars to fight retail crime.

They’re also upset she fired Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong with no permanent replacement a year later. And they said she lacks accountability by constantly pointing the finger at someone else.

“She is a failed leader. She has just done so much wrong in terms of leadership,” said Brenda Harbin-Forte, the lead recall organizer and a retired judge.

But Thao supporters said the recall is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

“It disheartening when I see folks trying to recall a mayor who’s only been in office for a year,” said Saabir Lockett, the founder and executive director of Pathways to Peace.

Lockett supports Mayor Thao. He pointed out crime has been going up in Oakland since 2019. He blamed the previous mayor and the defunding of Operation Ceasefire for the rising crime.

“The Mayor (Libby) Schaaf and LeRonne Armstrong administration that defunded Ceasefire. This current mayor is refunding Ceasefire,” said Lockett. “And I don’t think that crime is actually any different today than it was 10 years ago.”

Sheng Thao - screenshot
Sheng Thao – screenshot

He credits the mayor for hiring more 911 dispatchers and working with the state to install license plate readers to fight crime. He is asking voters to give Mayor Thao more time. But Tatum worries more time for Thao means more crime and business closures.

“I still believe in Oakland, the good and the bad,” said Tatum. “I believe this city can actually be thriving instead of trying to survive.”

Recall organizers aim to collect at least 25,000 signatures from registered Oakland voters by May. They want to get the recall on the November ballot.

CBS News Bay Area reached out to Mayor Thao’s office to comment on the recall but did not hear back by press time. The mayor is temporarily stepping away from public duties following the recent passing of her mother.

Click here for updates on this story

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