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Oakland businesses prepare for strike to protest rampant crime in the city, inaction by officials

Oakland businesses set to "strike" to protest ongoing, rampant crime
Oakland businesses set to "strike" to protest ongoing, rampant crime 02:43

OAKLAND -- Over 200 Oakland business owners who are fed up with crime in the city were ready to participate in a strike Tuesday to call attention to what they call lack of action from officials.

Business owners were calling for a solution to rampant crime in neighborhoods like Oakland's Chinatown. Some businesses remained closed all day, while others just shut down for a two-hour window between 10 a.m. to noon.

Business owners held a press conference outside of Le Cheval restaurant at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The 38-year-old family business announced last week it will be closing because of a drop in business due to increased crime. This Saturday will be the restaurant's final day in business at the current location.   

"There are going to be several businesses closed for the strike to show the city that we are meaning business, trying to clarify all these problems we're having in Oakland," said Tony Cheung, owner of New Tin's Market on 7th Street. "I've been here for 20 years, and It's never been like this. Never."

Since the pandemic, Cheung says he has lost employees and had to close earlier in the day, now open until 4:30 p.m. daily. He wants to bring attention to the impact that crime has both to businesses from stolen property and building damage, but also car break-ins violating customers. 

"We just hope that somebody listens to what we have to say and show that they have respect for what we've been trying to do for everybody and the surrounding area."

Cheung says it's sad that for his business and others it has come to this, knowing the impact it has on employees and residents who spend time in their neighborhood. 

"We've seen the Oakland Chinatown thrive but the last couple years it's gone down, we would like for it to come back," said Cheung. "We want to be a safe area for everybody to walk in."

A new poll shows just how much crime is weighing on the minds of Oakland residents. The study found crime is overwhelmingly Oakland's top concern for 83% of respondents. 

The poll was released by a local advocacy and consulting firm the McConnell Group. They said it was "a wakeup call" to show Oakland's leaders what matters to voters.

According to the poll, 92% of residents want city leaders to focus on reducing crime. 74% feel that things in Oakland are headed in the wrong direction and that the quality of life in Oakland has gotten worse.

The study was conducted earlier this month.

Responding to Tuesday's strike called by over 200 Oakland businesses who want better public safety, Mayor Sheng Thao issued a statement Monday saying her office is working on the problem. 

"We welcomed the opportunity to meet with any business owner that wants to work on collective safety solutions alongside our office," she said in an email.

"I have been personally meeting with dozens of small business groups to fund and support initiatives that deter crime and promote safe streets," said Thao, mentioning groups that included the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, African American Chamber of Commerce, Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council, Visit Oakland and others.

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