The Oakland First Fridays street festival that has been planned for July 5 has been rescheduled for Friday, July 12 in response to Oakland Police concerns about its proximity to the July 4 holiday.
Festival organizers complained on the official event website that they were only given 18 days notice by the police.
“We know announcing a postponement on less than three weeks’ notice is frustrating to our vendors and attendees, who already stood with us through several rained-out months last winter,” their statement said. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. We have no choice in the matter, but we remain committed to producing a safe and inclusive celebration of arts, culture, food and community, and are proud to be one of the drivers of downtown Oakland’s transformation into an arts and entertainment destination.”
Over the years, violence on its periphery has occasionally tarnished the festival’s reputation. Five or six people were shot and wounded last October near the heart of the First Friday celebration shortly after midnight on the morning after that month’s first Friday. The subsequent month’s even was cancelled as event organizers reconsidered the festival’s security measures.
“Hosting a safe event is always the main priority for Oakland First Fridays,” the organizers said. “Although the festival currently operates at a loss, in recent months we have doubled the resources we put into safety and security, before and after the event and inside and outside our footprint. We have a track record of running a safe event (including years when First Friday fell before or on the Fourth of July), and we do ongoing work with city and community partners to ensure it stays that way. This news was as much a surprise to us as to anyone.”
In lieu of a First Friday event, the organizing committee will be meeting at Kono (2633 Telegraph Ave. Ste. 109) to discuss ways to face challenges to the celebration. The “Art is Women” street festival scheduled for July 5 has been rescheduled to the following Friday, July 12. — D. Scot Miller