Monday, November 27, 2017

Sideshows Spin Donuts Around Police Over Thanksgiving Weekend in Oakland

More than 100 cars and hundreds of spectators took over major intersections in The Town.

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 10:28 AM


You probably heard it Saturday night? The Town was lit with multiple roving sideshows involving more than 100 cars and hundreds of spectators, some of them flashing green lasers, detonating fireworks, and spraying celebratory gunfire into the night sky.

For hours, the cars rumbled through East Oakland, taking over intersections like 35th Avenue at MacArthur Boulevard and 42nd Avenue at Coliseum Way. The spontaneously organized festivities went well past 4 a.m.

For the uninitiated, a sideshow is a mischievous ritual involving vehicular stunts and auto-matadors who walk into clouds of smoldering rubber smoke to palm-slap car fenders as they skid by like high speed metal bulls on a rampage.

It's like a drag race crossed with a bullfight surrounded by a street party.

niggas really had the town lit af last night 💯🔥🎥@510_carlos #sideshow #drift #burnout #donuts #oakland #tank2town

A post shared by 🎬⛽ Cali Car Meets & Shows 💨🚨 (@valleyswangs) on

The performative nature of a sideshow is paramount. No one just watches. Every other person is filming these brazen roadway takeovers. Some attendees have Instagram and Youtube accounts where they post curated images and videos of their exploits, often set to hyphy soundtracks. Others simply livestream the bacchanal to Facebook.

Oakland is the birthplace of the sideshows, which originated in the 1980s, and it's still the venue for the biggest gatherings. But these days, many attendees drive in from the Central Valley, and even as far away as Southern California. Like pilgrims to a sacred rite, they travel great distances seeking out these dangerous street ceremonies. The shows are organized informally over social media and by word of mouth. The faithful are many.

Of course the shows are also illegal. Oakland police and the California Highway Patrol have been trying to shut them down since they started.

Many Oakland residents also dislike the sideshows because of the noise and dangers they present.

Two years ago, when a similarly giant a swarm of sideshows converged in Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf held a press conference with OPD and CHP officials who vowed to crack down. Schaaf said sideshows present "unacceptable levels of destruction and harm" and would not be tolerated.

But judging by Saturday night's performance, the cops aren't winning this war. That's despite an anti-sideshow operation earlier this month that resulted in 13 tows, 12 citations, and two arrests, according to OPD. Police even made examples of people's confiscated whips on Twitter to discourage drivers from coming to Oakland.

But the deterrent doesn't appear to be working. The shows are going strong, and the police are outnumbered.

During the really big sideshows, like the mayhem this weekend, the cops have to contend with hundreds of participants who congregate simultaneously at multiple intersections along Foothill, Bancroft, International, and MacArthur. Spectators park in the middle of streets, blocks away from the action, creating impassable barriers that prevent police and tow trucks from getting close to the maelstrom of twirling Cameros and Mustangs. Far outnumbered, and also having to contend with Oakland's steady drip of assaults, robberies, shootings, and other emergencies, police often have to hang back and watch.

Over the weekend, OPD deployed "chemical munitions" to break up some of the gatherings, according to police radio communications. And when the shows mustered, OPD attempted several times to funnel the sideshows onto freeway onramps. From there, OPD wanted the CHP to block exit ramps ahead of these mobile swarms. This tactic is designed to funnel the revelers out of Oakland.

But that didn't work out so well on Saturday night.

Monday’s Briefing: At Least Seven Dead in East Bay Freeway Crashes; Number of Starving UC Berkeley Students Soars

Plus, Alameda finalizes new cannabis rules.

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Nov. 27, 2017:

1. At least seven people died in East Bay freeway crashes over the holiday weekend, including four people who were killed by a drunken driver on I-80 in San Pablo. The driver in that deadly crash, Fred Lowe, was arrested on suspicion of felony vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and felony DUI, reports Rick Hurd of the East Bay Times$. In addition, a 10-year-old girl was killed in a crash on I-80 in Emeryville; a 68-year-old man died when he drove his minivan into the Oakland-Alameda estuary; and a big rig driver died on I-80 in Berkeley.

2. The number of low-income UC Berkeley students who rely on free food supplies from Cal’s Food Pantry and from the state’s food stamp program, known as CalFresh, is soaring, reports Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “More than 500 UC Berkeley students have applied for food stamps since January, up from 111 in all of 2016, and just 41 the year before.” And records show that UC Berkeley students made 1,549 unique visits in September alone to the Food Pantry.

3. The Alameda City Council last week finalized its new cannabis rules and will allow the first two medical pot dispensaries to open on the Island in 2018, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. In addition, the council approved permitting one medical marijuana nursery, four pot manufacturing businesses, and two weed testing labs. However, the city has banned the sale of cannabis for adult recreational use.

4. California Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, announced this morning that he is resigning immediately following allegations from six women who accused him of unwanted sexual advances, reports Melanie Mason of the LA Times$.

5. And a media company backed by the conservative Koch brothers has purchased Time Inc., which publishes Time, Sports Illustrated, and People magazines.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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