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Oakland police boost presence, close streets at Lakefest after Juneteenth shootings

LakeFest Oakland organizers tout improved security following recent shootings
LakeFest Oakland organizers tout improved security following recent shootings 03:32

Oakland police say they will increase their presence and close streets around Lake Merritt on Saturday for Lakefest in the wake of shootings at Wednesday's Juneteenth festivities that left 15 people wounded.

"The Oakland Police Department will have a higher presence of officers, traffic posts and enforcement around Lake Merritt tomorrow, in support of the Lakefest Oakland event," spokesman Paul Chambers said in a press release Friday. 

The all-day, family-friendly event along the Lake Merritt shoreline starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 7 p.m. Last year, the event drew over 20,000 attendees. More information is available at the Lakefest website.

The department also announced it will close six roads around the park from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"As you can see on the perimeter, we gated off the whole park," LakeFest founder Trevel Adanandus told KPIX on Friday.

"We'll have a full detail OPD, starting with 50 officers out here. People would come here, bags will be searched, strollers -- everything just to make sure everybody is safe," Adanandus added.

The shootings on Wednesday followed fights that broke out after stunt driving, known as a sideshow, took over intersections.

During the sideshow, someone walked across the hood of a vehicle, which lead to multiple people exiting the car and "violently attacking" the person, Police Chief Floyd Mitchell said Thursday. 

Shayla Jamerson, co-producer of LakeFest, noted that, over the past four years, there had been no violent incidents.

"This is the first year that we're gating off LakeFest. In the last four years, there haven't been any gates, so think about that. It has been peaceful. Twenty thousand people with no gates, just roaming around and, this year, we wanted to add gates for crowd control and even before the incident, that was already our plan," Jamerson said.

Since the shooting, at least five vendors decided to pull out. The organizers took to social media to share the enhanced security measures ahead of time.

Some local residents like Steven Summers believe the increased security is a good move. Summers, who has lived in Oakland since 2009 and attended LakeFest before, felt reassured by the new measures.

"I guess what happened the other day was an ad hoc -- a sort of pop-up -- a bunch of illegal activity so this environment will be a lot more controlled so I think it should be fine," he said.

Adanandus said that he wanted people to remember the festival as a lively celebration with a variety of vendors, music and activities.

"I bring my kids here, annually. There are not many places where I take my kids and take my eyes off of them so they come, I tell them to come back in 30 minutes and I let them roam around. We have a lot of security and this is like a family picnic," Adanandus said.

Police say 16 people ended up in the hospital -- with 15 suffering gunshot wounds -- and one person was arrested following the outbreak of violence. 

Multiple fights broke out along Grand Avenue between Euclid and Bellevue avenues. Those streets are among those being closed by police on Saturday:

-- Bellevue Avenue from Grand Avenue to Perkins St (Lakefest location)

-- Perkin Avenue from Grand Avenue to Bellevue Avenue

-- Ellita Avenue from Grand Avenue to Bellevue Avenue

--Staten Avenue from Grand Avenue to Bellevue Avenue

-- Bellevue Avenue from Perkins Street to Grand Avenue

-- El Embarcadero from Grand Avenue to Lakeshore Avenue

Some police officers were assaulted in Wednesday's violence. The Oakland Police Officers Association blamed it on understaffing in the department.

Mitchell and Deputy Chief James Beere said there were 100 officers on patrol Wednesday night, 30 of which were at the lake. 

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