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Despite Shooting, Second Saturdays will Continue

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, September 13, 2010

This past Second Saturday was a pivotal one.  Residents and business owners were already raising concerns that the crowds of 15,000 or more were getting too big and unruly.  Here's Matt Piner with the Midtown Neighborhood Association:

Piner: "Late night when people are going back to their cars, there's a lot of sloppy activity - public urination, vomiting, property damage, trees getting snapped off."

Those concerns led the art walk's organizer, the Midtown Business Association, to pay for five extra police officers Saturday night.  And Mayor Kevin Johnson says until the shooting, the adjustment was working.

Johnson: "Before 8 or 9 o'clock on this past Saturday, it was one of the best Second Saturdays that we had.  We probably had more people out, we had a fewer number of incidents taking place."

Then, just after midnight, everything changed.  Gunshots rang out on J Street between 18th and 19th.  Around 200 people were packed in that popular block.  And even though three police officers heard those shots, they couldn't see the shooter, who snuck away through the crowd.  Worse, the shooter was a gang member - but, says Sacramento Police Captain Dana Matthes:

Matthes: "The deceased was not involved with gangs, nor were two of the other victims.  One of the victims that was shot was actually a validated gang member."

In all, one person died; three were wounded.

In the late 90's, the city canceled the popular Thursday Night Markets on K Street downtown after large crowds got unruly.  But Monday, Mayor Johnson and others made it clear: Second Saturday is not going away.

Johnson: "It's essential to the economic vitality of our community - and not to mention the vibe that we get when we participate in Second Saturday.  So we cannot afford to dismantle this event that is enjoyed by thousands of law-abiding citizens."

Instead, at a meeting Monday afternoon, city officials and organizers decided to form a task force, hold community forums and ramp up the police presence even more.  They plan to study what went wrong with the Thursday Night Markets … and what other cities with similar events are doing right.  Matt Piner with the Midtown Neighborhood Association was at the meeting.  He liked what he heard.

Piner: "Some people might feel it's necessary to do a moratorium.  I personally don't."

Officials plan to figure out what adjustments to make - and implement them - before the next Second Saturday, October 9th.

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