Oakland Juneteenth celebrations erupt in violence, OPD says multiple shot

An Oakland Juneteenth celebration at Lake Merritt ended in violence Wednesday night. The Oakland Police Department says multiple people were shot, but did not have an exact number of victims. 

A police spokesperson said it was a largely peaceful event with as many as 5,000 in attendance, until a sideshow involving "motorbikes and vehicles" took place at Bellvue and Grand avenues at around 8:15 p.m. on the north side of the lake.  

Police said a fight broke out down the street from the sideshow and a crowd gathered in the area of the fight. "During that fight multiple shots rang out," said Paul Chambers, OPD's strategic communications manager. Chambers said the shooting happened at 8:45 p.m. 

Chambers said as officers tried to get the crowd to safety that several people struck OPD officers. At least one person was taken into custody for assaulting an officer, he said. Police did not say how many officers were struck in the face or pushed. 

A KTVU crew at the scene saw a large police presence with as many as two dozen police vehicles. Multiple ambulances were at the scene and several city blocks were closed. Police said 28 officers and four sergeants were at the scene to monitor the event.  

The mood at the scene was described as chaotic and confrontational. Participants in the celebration were seen getting verbal with police. Some people at the event criticized the police response, saying they didn't respond quickly enough when people were injured. We have also heard that police were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd. 

When KTVU arrived, one man was seen being loaded into an ambulance. There were early reports of four people who were shot and another person who was hit by a car. The police did not confirm this information.

Tamia Robinson of Richmond said her friend was shot and killed at the event. She said there were sideshows, fighting and that fireworks were going off, which added to the confusion. She said she ran from the sound of the fireworks. 

Robinson said she had gone to the celebration at around 7 p.m. and noticed things started to go south at around 8:45 p.m. She claimed police used excessive force. 

Police said they could not confirm any deaths. 

"We don't have enough love in the community. We don't have enough outreach for the youth. And this is what happens when you do not have enough resources and you just have bulls in a ring," Robinson said. "I'm very disappointed. It's a shame we can't even get together as a community and enjoy each other, celebrate each other. Celebrate our ancestors without somebody being killed."

Police officers have fanned out to area hospitals to get a tally of how many victims self transported themselves for medical attention.  

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

Police said the investigation of Wednesday night's shooting is ongoing. Anyone with video or information about the shooting is asked to reach out to police. 


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