Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's home. Credit: Darwin BondGraham

At 2 a.m. this morning, an unknown group of people threw red paint on Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf’s home. They wrote messages in spray paint on a wall and the sidewalk: “Wake up Libby” and “Blood on your hands.” Written on the mayor’s garage door in giant letters was another message: “Defund OPD! Cancel Rent! Homes for all! Drop the charges!”

A woman walking by the mayor’s house this afternoon who identified herself as a neighbor said she woke up early this morning to the sound of fireworks that were like “bombs.” She described the explosions as “scary.” She said she didn’t see the group responsible.

Mayor Schaaf’s office issued a statement about the incident today.

“Around 2 a.m. vandals shot projectiles at the Mayor’s home, set off fireworks, and graffitied her home with paint. This attack, designed to intimidate the Mayor and strike fear into her family, will not stop her from advocating for the policies she believes are in the best long-term interests of her beloved hometown. Like all Oaklanders, she supports passionate protest but does not support tactics meant to harm and terrorize others.”

On social media, reactions to the vandalism were mixed. In a post to the Facebook group Oakland Now!, dozens of people condemned the incident. Some pointed out that the mayor has two young children. Others speculatively blamed right-wing “instigators” and “boogaloo” members who they theorized might be trying to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement. Some blamed Black Lives Matter protesters due to the focus of the messages. A few defended the vandalism as a desperate act of protest made to capture to attention of a mayor who does not support reducing the police department’s budget.

Whoever was responsible, the incident occurred just as the Oakland City Council is considering several proposals aimed at reducing the Oakland Police Department’s budget and shifting some duties like special events management away from the police.

Spray painted messages on the sidewalk and stone wall in front of Schaaf’s home. Credit: Darwin BondGraham

Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Nikki Fortunato Bas are proposing $11 million more in cuts to the Oakland Police Department on top of small cuts that were made last month, when the council voted to update the 2020-2021 budget. They want to use this money to expand mental health, housing, violence prevention, and other programs.

Schaaf opposes additional cuts to OPD. In an email alert she sent to constituents earlier today, Schaaf called Kaplan and Bas’ proposals “dangerous and irresponsible.” Schaaf’s alert encouraged supporters to call the City Council and oppose the proposed police cuts, saying they would “decimate Oakland’s current capacity to respond to public safety emergencies.”

Kaplan told The Oaklandside the proposals she put forward with Bas will result in savings and better police services. One would take away from the police the responsibilities of permitting and overseeing special events, like parades, and handing these duties over to the city’s transportation department.

Several commenters on Facebook said the incident is unfortunately timed given President Trump’s recent comments about Oakland being a “complete mess” and threatening to send federal police to the city.

“This is how you get trump bringing in the secret police,” one person wrote.

Correction: councilmembers Bas and Kaplan proposed an additional $11 million in police cuts, not $25 million.

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham was a freelance investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was a staff writer for the East Bay Express. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He is also the co-author of The Riders Come Out at Night, a book examining the Oakland Police Department's history of corruption and reform.