OAKLAND -- At 7:30 p.m. Friday, hands shot up in the air and quiet replaced the din of First Friday around a stage on Telegraph Avenue near 25th Street.

It was one of two moments of silence held to commemorate the death of Kiante Campbell, an 18-year-old Oakland high school student shot and killed during the February First Fridays festival. Three others were wounded by gunfire that erupted near the heart of the street fest that until Friday stretched along Telegraph from the Fox Theater to 27th Street.

"If you love Oakland, throw your peace signs up," Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said from a stage Friday night.

She called First Fridays a resistance movement and said the shooting was tragic. "But tragic things are happening every day," she said. "We remember Kiante and everyone who has been lost."

The event will grow again, said Oaklander Charles Kelly. But sometimes, he said, "You need to hit the reset button."

That is what the organizers and the city of Oakland tried to do by having the street fest begin at West Grand Avenue and end at 27th Street, closer to the boundary that existed before the expansion about a year ago.

First Fridays regularly draws as many as 20,000 people from around the Bay Area who come for the eclectic atmosphere and crowd into bars, restaurants and galleries.


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The festival's numbers stretched the ability of the organizers, Oakland First Fridays, and the city to control the crowds.

Friday was supposed to be smaller, shorter and more subdued. Besides cutting the route in half, open bottle laws were supposed to be strictly enforced, and the event was pushed up an hour, to 9 p.m.

The open container crackdown did not prevent one man in a gallery from occasionally pulling out a pint from his back pocket for a swig of bourbon. And a circle of friends sipped from tall cans of Colt 45 and Pabst Blue Ribbon about 10 feet from where police stood blocking off a side street.

Jewelry vendor Heather Holton, 23, an Oakland resident who has been coming to First Fridays since its inception, said she felt the crowd was significantly smaller compared to last month.

"It was like a rock concert (last month), definitely reaching the boiling point of First Fridays," she said. "But this month everyone seems to really be taking time to appreciate the Art Murmer section."

Friday marked the first time the event has been so organized, said Mayor Jean Quan, standing at the corner of Telegraph and West Grand.

"It's so organized, we have a theme," she added, referring to the Respect our City slogan printed on the emerald green T-shirt she wore and repeated on fliers posted on storefront windows along Telegraph. "We want to make sure we have a safe First Friday," she said. "We're going to have a good time tonight."

A nearby resident stopped to say he was "delighted" to see Quan, adding that First Fridays had been getting "out of hand" for a while.

"I'm here every First Friday," Quan replied.

A combined force of 62 police officers patrolled Telegraph and blocked the entrances to streets for several blocks past West Grand. Another 32 private security guards also made themselves visible.

A crowd of about 20 marched down Telegraph shortly before 9 p.m. chanting obscenities aimed at police. However, they seemed to blend into the crowds of revelers who danced to drummers and DJs dispersed along the route.

"The spirit's still here," Karl Stanley said. "It's not the number of people. It's the quality. "There's no way they're going to stop First Friday."

San Francisco resident Aaron Kelly, 29, was a first-time visitor to First Fridays. He heard about last month's shooting but wasn't deterred from coming out Friday night.

"I'm not gonna let that stop me," he said, "because people could die by getting hit by a car crossing the street."

Staff writer Serena Valdez contributed to this story.