“Art has the power to change minds” Amidst an Increase in Violence, Oakland Artists Beautify International Boulevard to Promote Peace

PRESS RELEASE Contacts: Cathy DeForest [email protected] & 541-690-6976  https://www.visionquilt.org Tanya Dennis: [email protected] & 323-490-6127 https://www.peaceinthestreets.net

Violence is on the rise in Oakland. From January to April of 2020 there were 14 homicides in Oakland. In 2021, there were 47 homicides in the same time period.

To address this dramatic increase in violence, artists and activists will unveil a public art installation along International Boulevard (formerly East 14th Street). Starting June 26th, the Peace In The Streets Neighborhood Beautification Project will install 52 street pole banners featuring 100 unique images dedicated to beautifying East Oakland and uplifting the voices of community members impacted by gun violence.

“Art has the power to change minds, and reprogramming our minds with positive and loving messaging is vitally needed in our community,” explains Tanya Dennis, one of the project’s core organizers, and Board Chair for Adamika Village’s #StopKillingOurKids movement.

Running through neighborhoods hard hit by the increase in violence, the banners will be displayed on International Boulevard from 73rd Avenue to 86th Avenue in East Oakland. Each five foot banner features art created by OUSD students, survivors of violence, artists, and others promoting community building, violence prevention, and peace.

To coincide with the project’s unveiling, there will be two community events the weekend of June 26th:

  1. A ribbon cutting ceremony/press conference on Saturday, June 26 at 1:00 pm in front of East Oakland Youth Development Center (8200 International Blvd).

  2. A Community Event on Sunday, June 27 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm co-hosted by the Black Cultural Zone in Liberation Park located at 73rd Ave. and Foothill Blvd. The event will feature interactive community resources and family friendly art activities. Masks are required.

On Sunday, the Community Event will feature youth speakers, community resources, and an array of Oakland-based violence prevention organizations including the Oakland Frontline Healers, Adamika Village, Vision Quilt, the Black Cultural Zone and Oakland’s Violence Prevention Coalition.

“A lot of the art included in the banner project was created by Oakland’s youth as Vision Quilt panels, and we’re expecting a lot of families this weekend,” explains Cathy DeForest, Executive Director of the arts-based violence prevention program, Vision Quilt. “Oakland’s youth are dedicated to bringing peace to the city, but we need the adults to listen and support their efforts.”

At a time when Oakland’s city officials are taking innovative approaches to reduce violence, Oakland City Councilmembers, Loren Taylor and Treva Reid, have enthusiastically endorsed the Peace in the Streets Neighborhood Banners for Peace Project. “Beautification of International Blvd is long overdue and well deserved and it will send a message that we care about this community,” says Councilmember Taylor. 

Initial funding for the Neighborhood Beautification project was provided by a mini-grant from Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. Additional funding came from the Black Cultural Zone and by generous Vision Quilt donors.

The Peace in the Streets Neighborhood Beautification art installation begins June 26th, along International Boulevard from 73rd Avenue to 86th Avenue in Oakland. The ribbon ceremony/press conference is on June 26 at 1:00 pm at East Oakland Youth Development Center: 8200 International Blvd. The open air interactive Peace In The Streets Community Event is on June 27th, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm at Liberation Park, 73rd Ave. and Foothill Blvd.

This is how International Boulevard/East 14th St. in East Oakland will look on June 26th!

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