Our Stories

Report Reveals Shocking Data on Arrests of Black Youth in Oakland

Oakland police are arresting school-age African American youth at shockingly high rates, contributing to a education crisis for students of color. That's the finding in a new report released by the Black Organizing Project, Public Counsel and ACLU of Northern California.

According to Public Counsel's Statewide Education Rights Director Laura Faer:

Black students in Oakland need educators who can be role models and school to be a path to a better future. But as an Oakland youth you are much more likely to run into a police officer than a counselor when you get into trouble. Oakland’s overreliance on policing is driving black students away from school and contributing to the crisis in our community. The time to change this story is now.

The report, “From Report Card to Criminal Record: The Impact of Policing Oakland Youth,” reveals disturbing trends about police interaction with Oakland’s youth of color and especially with African-American boys.

According to data obtained by the groups:

  • Black youth accounted for 73.8% of all juvenile arrests by the Oakland Police Department since 2006, despite making up just 29.3% of Oakland’s school-age population.
  • Black youth represented 70% of Oakland School Police Department arrests since 2010, though they are only 30.5% of the Oakland Unified School District student population.
  • In Oakland, African American youth are 24 times, Hispanic youth are 4 times, and Asian youth are 3 times more likely than whites to be arrested and booked.
  • Most arrests of black youth referred to Probation Department (78%) were later determined to be “not sustained” and the young people were not prosecuted, compared to 56% for all youth arrests.

“You can draw a straight line for too many of Oakland’s black students from report card to criminal record,” said Jacquelyn Byers, director of the Black Organizing Project, a community based group that works with parents and students in Oakland schools. “Arrests and law enforcement contacts are driving students away from school and toward the criminal justice system, and police need to be part of the solution to our city’s education crisis.”

The report calls on Oakland leaders to promote policing alternatives such as positive behavior support that will help create safe, nurturing schools; make OUSD and OSPD accountable to the public through the new OSPD Complaint Policy approved by the board of education last year and create data systems that clearly and completely track police interactions with Oakland children; and limit the role of police to emergency response.

Click here to read the report (pdf)