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Looking for Love From Oakland’s Next Mayor J. DOUGLAS ALLEN ...
Berkeley Daily Planet, CA -
.........But just as instructive to our discussion is Oakland’s sorry history with two other annual celebrations—Carijama and the Festival at the Lake.
Carijama—at North Oakland’s Mosswood Park—was a dance-and-music celebration of the city’s West Indian and African connection, while the Festival of the Lake—on the shores of Lake Merritt—was Oakland’s crown jewel of street festivals, bringing together all of Oakland’s diverse communities and constituencies under one big tent. At their height, both of these annual events were bursting at the seams, so popular it was often hard to find a spare spot to sit on the grass.
The operative words here are was and were. Both Carijama and the Festival At The Lake fell by almost identical causes—violent disruptions by African-American youth outside of the boundaries of the festivals, and after the respective festivals were shutting down for the evening. There are disagreements to this day as to the exact train of events of these disruptions—and the role of the Oakland Police in either stopping them or escalating them—but that’s a discussion for another day.
In any event, Oakland’s official response to the problems at Carijama and the Lake Festival were identical—limit their attraction to these “disruptive” African-American youth by limiting their attraction to everybody. The Lake Festival was moved from sunny June to who-knows-what-the-weather-will-be October, also coinciding with Yom Kippur, ensuring that much of our Jewish bretheren would not be in the mix, and further and predictably sending it to a quick end. Carijama was moved from its neighborhood home at expansive, grassy, family-friendly Mosswood Park to the more austere, concrete-surrounded enclosure of downtown’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, a move that both fatally sterilized the festival’s atmosphere and failed to keep out the “disruptive” black kids, thus doubly ensuring its demise.
I put the word “disruptive” in quotes in describing the African-American youth in the paragraph above because it has never been determined whether those kids came out deliberately to disrupt something they did not like—having participated in such activities myself in my time, I know that this can happen—or whether the disruptions may have flowed from other causes, such as those youth feeling left out of events taking place in their own communities.
This is more than a mere academic argument. Upon its resolution rests the future of Oakland’s economy and, more importantly, its soul.
Police Chief Richard Word, left Oakland
to become the top law enforcement officer in Vacaville in November of
2004, said it was not unusual to see an increase in the number of
complaints while a department works to implement a consent decree.
Interim Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker agreed with the findings of
a critical independent audit on police overtime spending, but disagreed
with some of its cost-cutting recommendations.
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"I would hate to see that
Oakland cannot have festivals,"
City Councilwoman Jane Brunner said.
"We have eliminated Festival at the Lake, and I fear we may be headed that way with this one. I think it's a great carnival, so I find it really sad that a few young adults ruin it for everyone else."
Brunner said she met with Police Chief Richard Word on Tuesday and was hopeful that the festival could be held at yet another venue next year, if changes are made. Crowd control would be easier if the festival could be moved to less-busy parts of the city, Brunner said, suggesting Raimondi Park in West Oakland or Middle Harbor Shoreline Park at the Port of Oakland. She proposed that festival organizers monitor a youth "after-party" that would allow young people to focus their energies constructively.
Police Chief Word is now thinking along those lines, suggesting adult chaperones that must stay until the event is cleared or a city-sponsored after-party that gives the young people someplace else to go.
Jane Brunner represents
district 1 which borders Mosswood Park, the long-time prior home to
the community festival which at its peak only drew a few thousand people.
Better plan needed to combat rowdiness - Oakland Tribune Wednesday, June 02, 2004
"Some city officials are saying Carijama should be canceled. I understand the frustration, but it seems like a hide-your-head-in-the-sand response. Every public event in the city would be at risk, held hostage by a small group of rowdies who could show up and ruin anything."
Chaos erupts at Oakland festival - Tri-Valley
Police Chief Richard L. Word said his officers acted in
accordance with the department's new crowd-control policy, which prohibits
police from firing projectiles at crowds that refuse to follow orders.
"There are just too many youngsters and young adults who can't control
themselves," an angry Word said. Word said he was fed up with Carijama,
calling the behavior of the crowd "pathetic." The chief said he would not
be inclined to allow Carijama to be held again next year. "We thought a
change of venue would deter the rowdies, but apparently, you can't deter
these people," Word added.
ANG Newspapers also publishes the Oakland Tribune
OAKLAND Carijama Festival 2004 ends in violence....
Police use tear gas to quell melee after music celebration
|Move It or Lose It Although organizers of the Caribbean festival had refused to move the 2004 event despite after hour hooligan troubles the last 2 years, they faced strong opposition|
Carijama at sfgate.com April
"In a letter denying the festival organizers a permit at the park, police officials explained that Carijama had become a victim of its own success... (Carijama organizer Jackie Artman's assertion, that most of the trouble came from a small group of people, including some who came for the crowds and not the music, is probably accurate. The problem is that she wants to divorce the event from the crowd it drew, and that cannot be done."
....Next year's event could be held at the new Middle Harbor Park on the waterfront. It's not finished yet but will be a beautiful park with waterfront views of San Francisco, a well-manicured lawn, the whole nine yards."
disappointing they still haven't learned how to do crowd control using
police officers instead of nonlethal weapons," said Councilwoman Jane
Brunner. "The police chief said this would not happen again. It
clearly points out that the Police Department needs another
alternative mode for dealing with crowds."
Carijama wows Oakland crowds
Oakland police disperse
unruly revelers with projectiles
officers lobbed stinger grenades, which explode into a hail of rubber bullets, into the crowd to try to regain control of the roadway, Ashford said.
Urbanview on the 2002 fracas
"A violent confrontation between youth and Oakland police took place
outside of the 1994 Festival At The Lake, just as the festival was
closing for the evening. We have never officially investigated the
cause of that confrontation. Whose fault it was, we don't officially
know. But as a direct result of the events of that afternoon, we lost
the crown jewel of Oakland's annual festivals.
It would be a damned shame if we let that happen to Carijama, which is a treasure. check for update
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