Jen Angel of Angel Cakes
Jen Angel, the founder of Oakland bakery Angel Cakes, inside her bakery in March 2016. Credit: Melati Citrawireja

Angel Cakes
745 5th St. (at Brush Street), Oakland
Caring Bridge site

Update, Feb. 9, 8 p.m.

According to a message sent by the friends and family of Jennifer Angel, the founder of Oakland’s Angel Cakes bakery, Angel died at 5:48 p.m. Thursday evening after doctors confirmed that she had lost all brain function. Her death follows several days on life support at Highland Hospital, where she was cared for after an Uptown Oakland robbery attempt during which Angel was gravely injured.

The message, which is published in full below, noted Angel’s longstanding work as an activist, and urged those mourning her passing not to “continue the cycle of harm by bringing state-sanctioned violence to those involved in her death or to other members of Oakland’s rich community.”

According to the message, Angel Cakes will remain open, “supported by Jen’s estate, and staffed by the talented team that Jen built.” those who want to lend their support are encouraged to purchase gift certificates at the business at 745 5th St. (at Brush Street). Those who wish to honor her legacy, the announcement said, should engage in “leading with love, centering the needs of the most vulnerable, and not resorting to vengeance and inflicting more harm.”

The full message from Family and Friends of Jen Angel:

It’s with very heavy hearts that we announce that Oakland baker, small business owner, social justice activist, and community member Jen Angel has been medically declared to have lost all brain function and will not regain consciousness. Her official time of death was 5:48pm (PT).

Friends and family of Jen hope that the story of this last chapter of her brilliant, full, dynamic life is one focused on her commitment to community, on the care bestowed upon her and her family by the people who loved her, and on the generous and courageous role of countless health care workers and public servants who fought to preserve her life. We know Jen would not want to continue the cycle of harm by bringing state-sanctioned violence to those involved in her death or to other members of Oakland’s rich community. 

As a long-time social movement activist and anarchist, Jen did not believe in state violence, carceral punishment, or incarceration as an effective or just solution to social violence and inequity. The outpouring of support and care for Jen, her family and friends, and the values she held dear is a resounding demonstration of the response to harm that Jen believed in: community members relying on one another, leading with love, centering the needs of the most vulnerable, and not resorting to vengeance and inflicting more harm. 

Jen believed in a world where everyone has the ability to live a dignified and joyful life and worked toward an ecologically sustainable and deeply participatory society in which all people have access to the things they need, decisions are made by those most directly affected by them, and all people are free and equal. 

Angel Cakes, the popular community-based bakery that Jen founded in 2008, will remain open, supported by Jen’s estate, and staffed by the talented team that Jen built. Community members who wish to support the bakery can especially help through buying gift certificates and committing to long-term patronage.

Per Jen’s wishes, her organs will be donated, and her committed medical team has informed the family that those organs will serve to lengthen and improve the lives of up to 70 people.  

If the Oakland Police Department does make an arrest in this case, the family is committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice. Jen’s family and close friends ask that the media respect this request and carry forward the story of her life with celebration and clarity about the world she aimed to build. Jen’s family and friends ask that stories referencing Jen’s life do not use her legacy of care and community to further inflame narratives of fear, hatred, and vengeance, nor to advance putting public resources into policing, incarceration, or other state violence that perpetuates the cycles of violence that resulted in this tragedy. 

We wish for Jen’s legacy to be one of deep commitment to safety and dignity for everyone.

Original report, Feb. 9, 9 a.m.

Jennifer Angel, the founder of Angel Cakes, a nearly-seven-year-old Oakland bakery, is fighting for her life today after a robbery gone wrong in Uptown Oakland. At present, she remains in “grave” condition, police told Nosh Thursday, and those close to her say it will be “several days” before it’s known if she will recover.

Angel, a former book publicist, began her career as a cupcake maker in 2008. Baking “is by far the most pleasurable job I’ve ever had,” she told East Bay Nosh in 2016, and she turned that passion into a successful business when she opened Angel Cakes at 745 5th St., inside Oakland’s iconic TJ’s Gingerbread House building.

Angel was running errands for her business on Monday, including a stop at the Wells Fargo branch near Webster and 21st streets, her fiance, Ocean Mottley, told the San Francisco Chronicle. According to a spokesperson with the Oakland Police Department, around 12:30 that afternoon, “an individual broke into” Angel’s car while she was in it and stole an item from her, then ran back “to a waiting vehicle.”

Jen Angel serves a customer at Angel Cakes
Jen Angel serves a customer at Angel Cakes. Credit: Melati Citrawireja

Angel jumped out of her car and gave chase, police said. “While the victim struggled for their belongings, they were knocked to the ground and sustained injuries.” According to a crime brief published by the San Jose Mercury News on Monday that did not name Angel as the victim, she was somehow snagged by the suspects’ car door, “and was dragged more than 50 feet before falling free in the middle of the street.”

According to private social media posts published by those close to Angel, she is “receiving great care” at Highland Hospital’s trauma unit. “Jen was initially stable when she reached the hospital,” one such post read, “but her brain swelling increased to the point that she was rushed to emergency surgery several hours after the incident.”

Angel has remained in a medically induced coma since, and according to the poster, efforts to alleviate the swelling have not been successful. It remains unclear if she will regain consciousness.

Related: Angel Cakes: A bakery in a gingerbread house

“She is currently on life support,” the poster said, “and there may be no clarity about her prognosis for several days.”

When contacted by The Oaklandside, a worker at Angel Cakes confirmed that the business remains open, “though we’re a little overwhelmed now,” they said. According to Moira Birss, a friend of Angel’s who is posting updates on her condition to Caring Bridge, a website that helps provide information to friends and family of those negotiating health crises, Angel’s friends “are assisting [Angel Cakes workers] at keeping the business running during this interim period.”

Jen Angel of Angel Cakes
Jen Angel serves a customer at Angel Cakes bakery. Credit: Melati Citrawireja

Birss has also launched a GoFundMe to “go toward the various expenses that may arise, including medical care for Jen, support for her partner Ocean in covering household and related expenses, for her mom in covering travel and living expenses, and for Angel Cakes bakery.”

As of publication time, Oakland police characterize the attempt to rob Angel as an ongoing investigation, and say that no suspect information is available nor have any arrests been made. According to the Merc, however, “investigators believe the suspects are responsible for several similar robberies and vehicle break-ins in the city.”

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call OPD at 510-238-3326. In addition, Crime Stoppers of Oakland is offering “up to $7,500” for information leading to the arrest of the suspects, and can be reached at 510-777-8572.

Eve Batey has worked as a reporter and editor since 2004, including as the co-founder of SFist, as a deputy managing editor of the SF Chronicle and as the editor of Eater San Francisco.