‘It’s A War Zone’: Liberal City’s Residents Slam Officials For ‘Doing Nothing’ About Dangerous Street Driving

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Erinn Broadus Investigative Reporter
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Residents of Oakland, California, are voicing their frustrations over reckless stunt driving performances on the city’s streets that they say city officials are failing to address.

Stunt driving performances, or “sideshows,” in Oakland have led to several high-profile incidents over the past several days, including the murder of an innocent woman when a man, fed up with the noise, started shooting at cars, as well the public beating of an innocent bystander that went viral on Twitter. Residents are fed up with city officials for so far failing to pass substantive reforms to address the dangerous behavior, according to local reports.

“It’s a war zone. It’s scary,” Ken Houston, former Oakland mayoral candidate, told CBS Bay Area.

Last month, over 100 cars were involved in one event, and the week prior to that, a dog walker was hit by one of the cars doing donuts in the street, according to Oakland North.

“The city council continues to dither,” Oakland resident Cheral Stewart, told Oakland North. “They say, ‘Oh, we want to do something.’ But by the time it gets through City Council, they’re doing almost nothing,” she said.

The city struck down a proposal by Noel Gallo to implement ordinances against street racing that would create penalties for those caught organizing or participating in December, according to Oakland North. Two weeks later, they rejected a revised version of the ordinance that would impose criminal action on those found organizing or participating in the sideshows.

Councilmember Carroll Fife was the main opponent of the ordinance, claiming that San Jose, which passed similar legislation, didn’t see results, despite a significant drop in sideshow events after its passing.

Gallo, whose ordinances were rejected in December, wants to set up a safe space for the car stunts to happen. “Right now, we’re trying to stop it from happening in our neighborhood streets,” he said.

During a dangerous street show over the weekend, an Oakland police officer was seen calmly strolling through the chaos, without bothering to intervene, according to CBS Bay Area.

“Because there is no fear for authority, not like when I grew up,” said Houston regarding the Oakland cop failing to stop the street show.

Even a big rig was caught doing donuts in an intersection in March, Oakland North reported. “We got to bring some fear and respect,” Houston said.


Mayor Sheng Thao issued a series of tweets May 2 addressing the matter.

“My office is currently working with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on a robust and comprehensive plan to implement sting operations so we can crack down on illegal sideshows that continue to put our residents in harm’s way,” she said

On May 1, a video of a man getting beaten at a sideshow went viral on Twitter. Also this month, a man frustrated by the street shows started firing weapon, killing a woman who was not participating in the racing, CBS Bay Area reported. (RELATED: Police Arrest Three Gang Members 13 Months After Toddler Was Killed In Freeway Shooting)

“OPD officers dedicated to Sideshow enforcement responded to multiple areas to address this illegal activity,” Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Candace Keas told the DCNF. “OPD gathers information to use and identify those involved in the illegal Sideshow activity for possible vehicle seizures at a later date,” she said.

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