15 shot after a ‘sideshow’ took over a peaceful Juneteenth celebration in Oakland, police say

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

About 20 vehicles — mostly all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes — arrived at Lake Merritt and started a sideshow.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Fifteen people were shot after an illegal “sideshow” took over a peaceful Juneteenth celebration in Oakland, California, police said Thursday.

Investigators are seeking multiple shooters — more than 50 shell casings were recovered at the scene — following the violence Wednesday night at Lake Merritt, but no arrests had been made by Thursday afternoon.

About 20 vehicles — mostly all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes — arrived around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday and started a sideshow on the north side of the lake as 5,000 people attended the Juneteenth event.

Sideshows, also known as street takeovers, involve stunts like doughnuts, drifting and burnouts. Street takeovers often involve hundreds of spectators. Cars block access to an intersection, stopping traffic in all directions and making it harder for police to respond. It’s become a widespread problem around the country, including Oakland and other cities across the U.S.

Oakland Police Chief Floyd Mitchell on Thursday said one person walked across the hood of a sideshow vehicle. Multiple occupants got out and attacked the person, whose injuries required them to be hospitalized.

Some of the people in the crowd also attacked police officers, Mitchell said during a news conference. A woman was taken into custody for assaulting an officer while the officer was giving first aid to a gunshot victim.

Detectives are combing social media for leads to the shooters’ identities, Mitchell said.

At least one gunshot victim was in critical condition. The victims’ ages ranged from 20 to 30 years old. Other injuries included the loss of fingers and minor gunshot wounds.

“The opportunity to celebrate with your family and friends should never be marred by gunfire,” Mitchell said.

June 19, or Juneteenth, marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth was designated a federal holiday in 2021 and has become more universally recognized beyond Black America. Many people get the day off work or school, and there are a plethora of street festivals, fairs, concerts and other events.

In 2021, a shooting during a Juneteenth celebration at Lake Merritt left several people injured and a 22-year-old San Francisco man dead.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.