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Councilman Noel Gallo: 'Oakland Is In Safety Emergency' In Wake Of Crime-Filled July 4th

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- City Councilman Noel Gallo grew up in Oakland and was as stunned as his neighbors over the dramatic surge of violence over the July 4th holiday. So when he was asked, it was not surprising that he was not about to mince words.

Appearing on KPIX 5 morning news, Gallo called for a tough crackdown on crime in the city. He was echoing the words of frustrated Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

At a Monday news conference, Armstrong rattled off a list of 7 shootings during the hours surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. One was a homicide, six victims were wounded -- some by celebratory gunfire. For the year, the chief said, Oakland has had 67 homicides.

"The level of violence during the 4th took a life and injured six others," Armstrong said. "Officers were going call-to-call, many of which were critical incidents. OPD was clearly stretched beyond our capacity, keeping our officers working until the early morning hours. Our city has not seen this level of violence in many years."

Gallo said Oakland is a city in crisis.

"Oakland is in a safety emergency," he said.

"I grew up in Oakland," he added. "It is the worse I've have ever seen. Not only dealing with the sideshows, the fireworks, but the violence in the streets. The reality is we need greater enforcement. The only thing some of us understand is push back."

ALSO READ: Oakland Streets Erupt Into '12 Hours Of Non-Stop Chaos'; Homicide, Shootings, Sideshow Violence

While his fellow council members have approved a city budget that slashes over $17 million from the police department coffers, Gallo said he wanted more officers hired.

He also called for stronger cooperation between the Oakland police, Alameda County sheriff's department, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI to stem the pipeline of illegal guns, drugs and fireworks into the East Bay.

"If you look at where the fireworks are coming from, where the drug activity is coming from, it's coming from outside of Oakland and in some cases outside of California," he said.

As for the illegal sideshows which have been going in Oakland for several years, he called for tougher laws targeting the participants.

On July 4th, an illegal sideshow moved across Oakland with approximately 300 vehicles and 200 spectators.

"Many of the participants and spectators were hostile, aggressive and violent towards the officers," Oakland police said in a statement. "This high level of violence included fireworks, lasers and other objects, projected, pointed and thrown at the officers. One of the spectators was struck by a participating vehicle and sustained a life altering critical injury."

Three people were arrested and five guns seized.

Gallo said he had a simple solution.

"If I catch you are a sideshow, I get to keep your car," he said.

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