OAKLAND (KPIX) – Oakland Police were stepping up enforcement this holiday weekend to curb any more violent sideshow activity.
Last weekend, participants of a massive sideshow near 42nd Avenue and International Boulevard trashed the intersection and set fire to an AC Transit bus and a semi-truck.
One Oakland city council member says he’s tired of the destruction and is supporting a new bill that would increase penalties for people convicted of participating in sideshows.
“My streets are being destroyed, my vehicles are being destroyed, and the safety of my pedestrians and families and children are at risk,” said Oakland City Council member Noel Gallo.
Last weekend’s sideshow was in Gallo’s district. That’s why he is testifying next week at the state legislature in support of AB 410.
The bill was introduced by an assemblyman from Los Angeles, in February. If passed, the bill would legally define a sideshow and outline increased penalties for participants, including impounding a car used in a sideshow for 30 days for the first offense, and repeat offenders would face even stricter penalties.
“If I catch you doing it a second time, I get to keep your car,” says Gallo of the increased penalties.
Citing and towing cars is one way police have dealt with sideshows in the past, but last weekend’s sideshow grew to a crowd of more than a thousand people, which far outnumbered the police.
“There’s no way to possibly deal with that tremendous amount of gunfire rocks, bottles, fireworks being launched at officers, then trying to go in and control that scene, while you have a bus on fire and a semi-tractor trailer,” said Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.
He says this holiday weekend, extra deputies and additional officers from Oakland Police and the California Highway Patrol will take a no-tolerance approach to illegal driving.
“You have to hit it early on and then you have to keep them from congregating to a pack. You do that through enforcement and deterrence,” says Sgt. Kelly.
Councilmember Gallo will be in Sacramento on Tuesday to testify in support of the proposed law to increase penalties on sideshow participants.