OAKLAND (KPIX) – With a sunny weekend on tap in the Bay Area, officers of the Oakland Police Department were gearing up for possible sideshows.
“Congregation of people in cars – if it looks like a group of people are going to be taking over an intersection – typically that takes some time to form up, show up, get their parked cars double parked – you can see it evolving,” said Lt. Rob Rosin during a ride-along with KPIX 5.
OPD says there are at least 10 spots that are popular for sideshow activity. One known as “The Pit” is especially popular. It’s at 42nd Avenue and Interstate 880.
“People will leave their cars in the street and walk up to the area,” said Lt. Rosin. “It’s right underneath 880. The lay of the land here makes it an ideal place for people to prevent the police from getting down here by blocking the roadways.”
Trying to stop sideshows is often like playing “Whack-A-Mole.” When one is shutdown, another pops right up.
“With social media, if flares up extremely fast,” Oakland Police Captain Randy Wingate told KPIX 5.
He says the days of sideshows being harmless fun have passed.
“People complained about noise – these events are like stolen cars,” he says. “Cars spinning donuts at a high rate of speed, crowds getting plowed into – pedestrians getting ran over, people hanging out of cars shooting gunshots, people in the crowd shooting gunshots.”
Lt. Rosin says officers have faced danger trying to break them up.
“Some of our officers have had glass bottles thrown through their patrol car windshields and back windows,” he says.
For Capt. Wingate the bottom line is that sideshows pull resources from pressing emergencies,
“When we’re not available to go to those calls because we’re consumed with a sideshow and the gunshots and handling that danger – that increases our response time to true emergencies, where people need our help and we’re not getting to those people. It’s a very selfish thing to participate in a sideshow.”