OAKLAND (KCBS) – The crowds that turned out for First Friday in Oakland found tighter rules and a smaller event, following the murder of an 18-year-old student near last month’s festival.
Oakland city officials prohibited wine from being served in art galleries. There was also no beer garden and fewer music stages at a street fair which encompassed five blocks of Telegraph Avenue rather than ten.
The city scaled back the monthly event after 18-year-old Kiante Campbell was killed in February. Two moments of silence memorializing Campbell were scheduled at 7:30 p.m. and as the event was to close at 9 p.m.
“God bless his soul for being the catalyst,” said Jennifer Johns. The Oakland resident said Campbell’s death was “an unfortunate sacrifice to bring us together, but that’s the role that he has played is bringing us together.”
Johns and other volunteers wore green t-shirts that read, “Respect our City.” Organizers declared a theme of diversity, healing and solutions to violence because of the impact of Campbell’s murder on the community.
“It’s something that we have to address in a real way,” said spokesman Eric Arnold, “because violence is not something that only happens in those parts of town where we don’t like to go.”
Telegraph Avenue had already filled with people even before it was closed to vehicle traffic between West Grand Avenue and 27th Street at 5 p.m.
Arnold said how the crowds behaved on this night would determine the shape of the April event.
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