Rash of Violence has Oakland Cannabis Retailers on Edge

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PHOTO: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

OAKLAND, Calif. – An incidence of fatal gun violence last week in a south Oakland dispensary has Bay Area cannabis retailers calling for more police protections, in the wake of looting during local George Floyd protests in May, and this latest incident.

Local crime news website Town Business posted a video of the shooting, which took place on July 17, at an address on the 500 block of Julie Ann Way. The video, which appears to be from a security camera, also was posted to social media sites.

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In the video, a group of five people appear to be exiting a dispensary. As they are leaving, a male in the group (wearing a white T-shirt) appears to reach for a gun as the assailant approaches the entrance from outside, gun drawn. As the group tries to back into the door to get away from the gun wielding suspect, he and the white-shirted male open fire. In the exchange, a woman is hit, who appears to try and hide behind the door for nearly thirty seconds before falling to the floor. She later died at the hospital.

Sources said a man also was wounded in the incident and that both of the victims were employees at the cannabis business. Oakland police did not identify the victims nor confirm that they were employees. No one has yet been identified as a suspect or arrested for the crime.

Oakland cannabis business owners claim that since the end of May, when U.S. cities were first swept by a wave of protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis on May 25, there have been at least forty break-ins at local cannabis facilities.

On June 1, mgRetailer reported a spate of looting incidents that coincided with the protests, which hit California dispensaries particularly hard, including Bay Area locations in Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

Though cannabis businesses were declared essential services in California, allowing them to continue operations during the coronavirus shutdowns, many legal retailers have felt the negative economic impact of the pandemic, as well as the cost of overnight changes to the retail environment that demanded implementation of delivery, curbside pickup, and social distancing.

Some of Oakland’s cannabis business owners pointed out that, for the amount of tax that is collected from local legal cannabis retailers (up to 35 percent of sales goes to the city), there should be more police protection for stores or even a police unit assigned to investigate crimes that victimize their businesses.

Since legal cannabis businesses are prevented from using regular banking services due to continued federal prohibition, criminals target stores for robberies knowing that there may be a large amount of cash on hand, in addition to valuable product.

Warning: Graphic content.

Woman Shot and Killed in Attempted Robbery at Oakland Cannabis Business

VIDEO: CrimeInOakland.com/Streamable.com.

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