The Oakland Art Murmur Administration has left a statement on the website of the organization in the wake of last night’s First Friday shooting, where the killers are still at large as of this writing.
The Oakland Art Murmur is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic shooting that occurred in the Uptown area last night in Oakland. We offer our prayers to the families of the victims. We also offer our prayers to the city of Oakland, the state of California and the entire country. This another example of the epidemic gun violence erupting across America.
The Oakland Art Murmur and the First Friday Street Festival are the products of communities coming together to showcase the best of what people create together. The Oakland Art Murmur is a nonprofit art gallery association that runs a gallery walk on First Fridays from 6-9pm. Alongside that, the city of Oakland has been closing down a section of Telegraph Avenue for a street festival on a monthly basis. The City has been providing security for the street festival that they have been permitting. We believe that art can transcend social, racial and politcal issues, and we will continue to offer a positive and engaging cultural experience for visitors to our member galleries, showcasing over 1,200 artists in nearly 300 exhibitions every year.
On a personal note, this wave of violence has taken a massive toll on this blogger. After having a good cry this morning, the question has to be asked: does Oakland want to get better?
I’ve been here since 1974, and throughout that time, Oakland has always been a city that was “on the grow” or improving, only to suffer some kind of setback to its civic pride. From 1999 to 2001, I tried to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland, and even though then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown openly told a group of visiting Chinese businessmen that the Super Bowl belonged in San Francisco, and a local “journalist” referred to my effort as a failure – I disagree. It was the perfect storm of Oakland fighting against an Oaklander trying to push it to do something great: host a Super Bowl Game. An effort that would have brought $178 million in revenue to Oakland, $60 million of that hotel revenue, and $6 million to Oakland non-profits.
We lost to Jacksonville for the right to host the 2005 game.
There are a lot of people who’ve worked tirelessly to make Oakland better. Some, like Libby Schaaf, have become Oakland City Council members. Others, like Sanjiv Handa, have died trying and Chauncey Bailey, have died trying. Oscar Grant became a symbol for the need to stop Oakland’s long-standing problem of police brutality, but he had to be murdered by a BART cop to become that. And still other, like Phil Tagami, have made great contributions, but also gained an unfair portrait by some others who don’t understand real estate development.
The late Richard Winnie was a stalwart defender of Oakland’s Port and waterfront. The late Robert Maynard bought the Oakland Tribune, and made it a model of journalism and civic boosterism.
And then there’s Oaklandish, which made loving Oakland cool. That’s a great lasting legacy.
But, through all of these efforts, Oakland’s internal pull to be less than, and not greater than remains intact. And of late, it’s seemingly more powerful than ever before.
It should not be this hard to make a city better. But it is, and I think it’s because, when we’re really honest with each other, the fact is that we don’t care enough to form a powerful collective to make this city better.
The last time we did with Oakland Sharing The Vision in 1990, it was turned into a government work checklist, with nothing, no work for the private sector, or Oaklanders, to do.
We have to want to make Oakland better together, to see a better Oakland.