OAKLAND, Calif - A Bay Area social club looking to curb gun violence in Oakland is organizing a city-wide water gun fight on the Fourth of July weekend.
They're calling it "Water Wars: Peace in the Oakland Streets," a takeoff from the nationwide #GunsDownWaterGunsUp movement that has seen similar events in Chicago, Columbia, Mo. and Atlanta, where 500 people came to the event, tying up traffic so badly that the police were called. Officers wound up getting sprayed and soaked with water, but no one was hurt or arrested.
Oakland event organizers say they want a peaceful and fun event on Saturday, July 6.
A flier put out by the group, "Grown and Sexy Divas," and sent to KTVU says: "People of all ages throughout Oakland neighborhoods will be sending a message to stop gun violence and start peace in the Oakland streets. Water guns will be the weapon of choice this day, so grab your water gun, spray and stay in your neighborhood and let's have some fun."
Nicole Goodwin has spent months organizing the event, which is for people of all ages, but especially for children and young adults.
"We've got to give these kids a chance. We are losing so many people out here,'' she said Thursday.
Goodwin said at least 20 neighborhoods in West Oakland and some in East Oakland have said they are going to participate, but everyone is welcome to join the event.
In her Lower Bottoms neighborhood, the event will run from noon to 4 p.m. at 8th and Campbell streets on July 6. There will be music, food, bounce houses and, of course, lots of water guns.
"The kids deserve something to do rather than just seeing death because that's what is around us,'' Goodwin said.
Although a new report by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence shows Oakland has cut its annual homicide rate and nonfatal shootings by nearly half since 2012, the city is still ranked the tenth most dangerous metro city in the country.
Information from SafeWise, an independent safety and security company, shows the crime rate in Oakland is nearly four times higher than the national average.
Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Officer Felicia Aisthorpe said the agency did not know about the Water Wars event.
Still, she praised the effort.
"Anytime our community comes together to put guns down is another step in reducing gun violence," Aisthorpe said in an email to KTVU.