The City of Oakland’s Communication’s Department sent over this recap of a Monday meeting on the Art Murmur – First Friday Shooting of two weeks ago, with Mayor Jean Quan as host, together with Deputy Mayor Sandre Swanson, City Administrator Deanna Santana, police Chief Howard Jordan, Councilmember Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, and Oakland residents and business owners.
Here it is:
City leaders met today with a wide range of people invested in the future of
Oakland First Fridays, including some members of the Oakland First Friday
community itself, the Oakland Art Murmur organizers, neighborhood business
owners and residents. Mayor Jean Quan hosted the meeting, together with
Deputy Mayor Sandre Swanson, City Administrator Deanna Santana, police
Chief Howard Jordan and Councilmember Lynette Gibson-McElhaney.
Community members brought forward ideas for a change of tone for the March
1 event. Everyone involved recognizes that violence and tragedy strike the lives
of far too many Oaklanders, and several Oakland First Fridays community
members talked about making March 1 a tribute to the victims of violence and a
moment to stand together for peace on our streets. The event would have a
smaller physical footprint and earlier end time than typical Oakland First Friday
events, and pay honor to slain 18-year-old Kiante Campbell as well as all the
victims of local violence.
The broader focus of the meeting was to explore ways to make Oakland First
Fridays sustainable and safe. Mayor Quan praised all in attendance for their
commitment to building on the success of Oakland First Fridays while
recognizing the need for change and teamwork.
Among the issues under consideration are the overall event management; the
availability and public consumption of alcohol; and how to best serve the
hundreds of youths who attend Oakland First Fridays. The group made progress
discussing all these issues and will continue examining the best paths forward.
Quan’s office will continue to provide updates as those discussions bear fruit.
Oakland has a decades-long track record of safely, sustainably hosting largescale
public events, and annually draws about 4 million people to more than 60
public festivals and celebrations, including Art & Soul, the Oakland Running
Festival, the Fruitvale Dia De Los Muertos Festival and the Eat Real Fest. The
rapid growth of Oakland First Fridays — which has been running for six years
without any major incidents until Feb. 1 — is an encouraging sign that more and
more people are taking advantage of all our beautiful city has to offer, but it also
requires exponentially more planning and organization to ensure the event
remains sustainable, safe and fun for everyone.
To this blogger, the next step should be large-scale planning for the next Art Murmur / First Friday in March. The problem with Oakland’s current emotional condition is it’s gun-shy, fearful of talking about any event that would point to good feeling, and concentrating on contemplating on its woes. Security planning should be a part of event planning, and the Art Murmur scene would benefit from more, bright, lighting on the street.
But the central issue is that Oakland, once again, is letting its poor self-esteem overcome the need to move forward.