Oakland police increase presence at Lakefest following Juneteenth shooting

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Oakland Police Department increased its presence around Lake Merritt as thousands of people participated in the Lakefest festival on Saturday.

The move comes days after at least 15 people were shot, one person was assaulted and two officers were attacked during an unsanctioned Juneteenth event near Lake Merritt. As of Saturday, police say they haven’t made any arrests in connection to the shooting.

“We have an extra amount of officers out there working today to provide a visual presence and visual deterrent for those who want to disrupt the event,” said Floyd Mitchell, OPD chief.

Lakefest organizers said they planned to roll out new safety measures at the festival this year, even prior to the shooting.

“We were already wanting to focus on crowd control because nothing happened last year. Safety is our priority,” said Shayla Jamerson, a co-producer of the event.

For the first time this year, Lakefest was closed off with a fence, and security checked all bags at entry points.

Lakefest is a family-friendly event with vendors, live music, food, activities for kids, and more at Lake Merritt. This year marks its fifth annual occurrence.

Organizers say around 20,000 people attended last year’s event and said it’s safe to say thousands were at the event this year too.

“We are doing this for you, we are doing this for us, we really need this,” Jamerson said of this year’s event.

Despite increased safety measures, Gamel James said Wednesday’s mass shooting was in the back of his mind. James staffed a booth for his puzzle business, Unified Pieces, at the festival.

“I was a little apprehensive about coming out today,” he said. “When I [saw how] they had it set up and how secure it was looks like it’s pretty safe. They’re checking everybody before they come in.”

Thousands of people headed to Oakland’s Lake Merritt Saturday for the fifth annual Lakefest. June 22, 2024. NBC Bay Area Photo/ Alyssa Goard.

Shanardra Rhone-Daniels, who was staffing a booth for her jewelry business, Bead Infinite, said he felt bad for the victims.

She added that said seeing officers patrolling the event frequently put her more at ease.

“I am glad that they took precautions for this event so that everyone that was coming out as well as the vendors would feel more safe,” she said.

Roundalene Waterman who says she’s lived in Oakland her entire life, spent her 63rd birthday with family at the festival.

“It was like, should we come or shouldn’t we come because they had the Juneteenth thing? But I said, ‘let’s go for it, let’s go,'” Waterman said.

Waterman enjoyed shopping and receiving birthday greetings at this sunny Oakland event.

“I feel safe, I feel safe, no problems, I love it,” she said.

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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.
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