Oakland Petition: Neighbors Should Not Be Racially Profiling Neighbors
Oct 18, 2015
By Ken Epstein
Oakland community activist Ann Nomura and her family have begun a petition calling on the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department (OPD) to stop posting on a popular social media site that is used by some residents to racially profile their neighbors.
Nextdoor.com, a website and app that bills itself as “the private (online) social network for your neighborhood,” is designed to allow neighbors to share information.
But the design of the Crime and Safety section promotes racial profiling, according to the petition, creating a space for fearful and anxious residents to report on the perceived threat of Black and Latino adults, teenagers and children that the residents see going into nearby houses or walking on the sidewalk.
“The City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department should stop all posting on Nextdoor.com until the software design flaws, which promote racial profiling on their social media platform, are corrected,” the petition says. “The company should also provide competent oversight and manage Moderators and Leads, so that their product is not used to promote profiling, bias, or hate toward neighbors of color.”
Police contribute postings to the website and monitor residents’ comments.
“Profiling causes real harm to children and families and creates fear and mistrust between neighbors,” according to the petition. “With the exception of unenforced anti-profiling guidelines, Nextdoor.com has taken no meaningful steps to resolve this problem.”
Nomura told the Post she is especially concerned that Mayor Libby Schaaf has made neighborhood crime prevention a major priority of her administration but has not spoken out against the actual threat to the community of neighbors racially profiling neighbors.“We have Nextdoor.com and other social networking services that make profiling easier, and the city is tacitly approving these frightened responses that are actually just racial profiling,” said Nomura.
There is a feeling among some people that by reporting on what they see in the neighborhood, they are helping to stop crime and that they have the backing of the mayor and OPD, she said.
“What’s entirely absent is the mayor standing up and saying that this does harm,” said Nomura, who lives in the Dimond District of Oakland with her family.
Nomura said she has contacted Mayor Schaaf a half dozen times but has received no response. “Given how important and painful this has been for people in our district, it’s important for Libby to make a statement,” she said.
The petition is available on Change.org at www.change.org/p/oakland-mayor-libby-schaaf-ceo-nirav-tolia-stop-racial-profiling-on-nextdoor-com?