Two armed robbers held up a news crew at gunpoint in Oakland on Monday while the crew was interviewing the city’s head of violence prevention, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The robbers attempted to steal a camera from the local NBC news crew. During the attempted robbery, a security officer pulled out his gun and ordered the thieves to leave, at which point they ran off without the camera, according to an Oakland Police report.
The crew was conducting an interview of Guillermo Cespedes, head of the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention.
“Our colleagues were conducting an interview at Oakland City Hall when they were approached by two armed individuals,” Liza Catalan, a spokesperson for NBC Bay Area, told the Chronicle. “Thankfully our colleagues are safe and unharmed.”
The attempted robbery occurred hours after Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong criticized the city council for cutting $18.4 million from the police budget. Of those funds, $17 million will be redirected to the Department of Violence Prevention.
Oakland has seen 65 homicides so far this year, compared with 32 over the same period in 2020.
“We find ourselves in a crisis,” Armstrong said at a press conference. “We see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland and our response was for less police resources.”
The funding cuts come a year after calls to “defund the police” gained national attention following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent protests and rioting. Cities across the U.S. are currently seeing increases in the number of homicides as compared with the previous year.