Mayors of DC, Oakland claim comeback amid public backlash from crime surge

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao are both defending their cities amid a surge in crime that has caused a backlash with business owners and local residents.

Bowser told Axios in an interview that while Washington “had a tough year last year” in terms of crime, she still urged onlookers not to be harsh on the nation’s capital.

“Don’t be so down on DC,” Bowser told the outlet, despite homicides having jumped up 36% and carjackings having almost doubled last year, “when many other major cities saw declines in violent crime.”

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DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao are both defending their cities amid a surge of crimes that is causing concern among business owners and locals.  (Getty Images)

Bowser pointed to crime data to support her defense of DC, saying that the “numbers were starting to ‘trend in the right direction,'” as “[t]otal violent crime is down 17% so far this year, and all crime is down 12%, according to police stats.”

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. passed a sweeping anti-crime bill in early March just days after business leaders there wrote a letter to Bowser and legislators warning about an “alarming increase in violent crime across our city.”

The Secure D.C. Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024 — which includes more than 100 proposals to fight crime, including ramping up gun violence penalties and adding punishments for organized retail theft, according to FOX 5 DC — was passed by the D.C. Council in a 12-1 vote on March 5.

“We are looking for all kinds of ways to invest in the revitalization of downtown,” Bowser told Axios.

In Oakland, Mayor Thao and other local officials declared on Monday that the city was seeing a comeback, especially along the Hegenberger corridor, an area leading to and from Oakland International Airport, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

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In Oakland, California, Mayor Thao and other local officials declared on Monday that the city was seeing a comeback, especially along the Hegenberger corridor, an area leading to and from Oakland International Airport, per the San Francisco Chronicle.  (Getty Images)

“The mayor pointed to what she described as progress: She said the area has seen decreases in auto burglaries, theft and robberies in recent months,” the outlet reported.

“We are demonstrating that when you invest in our community, you will see real change,” Council Member Treva Reid said.

“We still have a lot of work in front of us, and we will continue to do more,” Thao said.

“One of the efforts Thao and others pointed to Monday was the group of 15 ‘safety ambassadors’ who hit the streets in the Hegenberger corridor in December,” according to the Chronicle. “The group, which works under a partnership between the city and the Black Cultural Zone— a coalition of government and community groups— connects business owners with resources, including community-led programs for issues that are not emergencies or violent in nature.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would send 120 California Highway Patrol officers to help reduce crime in Oakland in February. In March, a group of Oakland businesses told local outlets that they would stop paying taxes until the city did more to protect them from criminals.

Bowser and Thao’s offices did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Greg Norman and Stepheny Price contributed to this report.

Jeffrey Clark is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. He has previously served as a speechwriter for a cabinet secretary and as a Fulbright teacher in South Korea. Jeffrey graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with a degree in English and History. 

Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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