Tomorrow's First Friday Will Be Shorter, Smaller, and More Subdued (Probably)

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After the tragic shooting of high school senior Kiante Campbell at last month's First Friday, it was inevitable that the event would change in some way; last week, I wrote about some of the specifically drinking-related changes, but yesterday the City released an official statement enumerating the ways in which tomorrow's event will be different — namely, the footprint will be significantly smaller, stretching along Telegraph between 27th and West Grand rather than down to 16th; public drinking "will not be allowed," meaning cops will be issuing tickets; the (officially sanctioned) portion of the evening will end at 9 instead of 10; and there'll be several events and attractions oriented toward promoting peace and honoring Campbell.

All of which will hopefully help tamp down some of the chaos, though as I think we've seen, First Fridays has taken on something of a life of its own, and it's really, really hard to get 10,000 people to do much of anything in an orderly fashion — let alone follow new rules for an event that's essentially had none for the past several months. And though Sean Maher, the Mayor's communications director, said the City doesn't discuss specific numbers when it comes to how many cops will be out on the street tomorrow night, it's safe to say the ratio won't be in their favor when it comes to issuing citations of clearing the streets — unless, of course there's a significant drop in attendance (which is definitely possible!). Anyway, we'll let you know what happens.

A longer version of the release is below, with relevant bolding added for your reading-quickly-at-work pleasure:

City staffers and numerous First Friday stakeholders have been meeting together regularly over the last few weeks, to ensure that March 1 will be a unique event in the history of Oakland First Fridays ... The result has been a developing working relationship that preserves the organic, community-grown spirit of Oakland First Fridays while tackling a collective responsibility to keep everyone safe at this growing Oakland mainstay."

People coming to the March 1 event will see numerous changes — some of the most noticeable will be:

1. Across the event, all the programming and performances will be united around themes of unity, diversity, healing and peace.
2. There will be two long moments of silence held across the entire event.
3. The event will end one hour earlier, at 9 p.m.
4. The footprint will be shortened, to take place along Telegraph Avenue from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street.
5. Public drinking of alcohol will not be allowed. Art galleries within the immediate vicinity will suspend alcohol service on March 1 as well.

Specific changes in programming for March 1 include a Peace Concert and Kiante Campbell stage featuring local artists and musicians ... There will also be a “Heal the Hood” stage on 24th Street and Telegraph Avenue, featuring poets, musicians, DJs and community groups. A Solutions Salon on the topic of youth violence will be held at the New Parkway Theater from 4 to 6 p.m. In addition, there will be numerous altars and peace vigils throughout the footprint, as a token of remembrance and healing.

Please note that the changes are specific to the March 1 event. Going forward, much more change is needed to keep Oakland First Fridays safe and sustainable. Both the City and the First Fridays organization are committed to continuing the dialogue around this issue, and widening the conversation to include the greater Oakland community in working together to create solutions.

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