First Friday returns to Oakland following fatal shooting

March 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
It was a much different First Friday event in Oakland. The evening art festival has been scaled back after a teen was shot and killed following last month's festivities. It's now on a much smaller section of Telegraph Avenue, just five blocks from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street.

One of the big changes was they shut down the event an hour early, so the event wrapped up at 9 p.m.

Oakland resident Suzy Garren decided to leave Oakland's First Friday event early because she says it's no longer the art scene it used to be.

"In the last few months I haven't been coming because it's become more of a party scene. It got to the point that it's so crowded you can't walk anymore," said Garren.

By 8 o'clock, crowds began funneling in, and this stretch of Telegraph Avenue took on a circus-like atmosphere. But Oakland police were determined to maintain control and the city let it be known.

"Absolutely, I received several emails from the city making it clear what their intentions were," said Telegraph bar owner John Mardikian.

Mardikian owns the Telegraph Beer Garden and he was reminded not to allow his patrons to walk onto the street with beer.

"So I've had to increase the number of security guards I have, just to keep the alcohol from coming in and from going out," said Mardikian.

The city is clamping down after 18-year-old Kiante Campbell was shot and killed following last month's First Friday event, but the crowds still came despite the strict new rules.

"Show support. You need good people and good people can't be scared. Bring them out," said Oakland resident David Adams.

"I truly believe people just want a safe place to come out and be a part of a community. People are tired of being at home," said Oakland resident Allen Saunders.

This time, the city limited the event to just six blocks, it hired extra unarmed security, and decided to close the event early.

It cost the city about $15,000 to hold this event.


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