SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A large gathering of spectators for a sideshow in East San Jose this weekend has officials worried will lead revelers to defy stay-at-home orders during Tuesday’s Cinco de Mayo holiday.
“I would say there was about a thousand people here, easily,” said Carlos Diaz who was shopping Sunday along Story Road.
Diaz said he watched the parking lot fill up with cars doing stunts. What disturbed him the most were the people who gathered to watch without observing social distancing due to the coronavirus.
“This whole parking lot here, you couldn’t even see the cars because there were so many people standing around,” he said. “It was — shoulder to shoulder.”
Video from a spectator provided to KPIX5 showed cars spinning donuts in the middle of Story and King Roads. A crowd of young people was close behind the cars, following them back and forth in the intersection, recording the moment with their cell phones.
Diaz is a prominent DJ in San Jose. He said he would very much like to get back to working parties and even celebrating his culture as he has done many times in the past during this prominent Mexican holiday. But he said what he witnessed Sunday was too much.
“It’s incomprehensible in the midst of what we’re going through,” he said. “For hundreds and hundreds of people to gather … It’s beyond mind-boggling.”
On Monday, vendors sold Mexican flags and other souveniers in the parking lot.
Among them was Sylvia Morquecho who witnessed the crowd on Sunday and sympathized with the young people who she said seemed anxious to get out of the house on a beautiful spring day. She said many, including herself, do not believe Covid-19 is as dangerous to their lives as the quarantine is to their livelihoods.
“So many days you’ve been inside your home. What can you do? You can cross the street and a car hits you and you die right there,” Morquecho said.
San Jose Police said in an email the department is planning a Cinco de Mayo response that would increase special operations and patrol officers in key locations throughout the day.
A police source told KPIX5 the strategy will be to try and keep the crowd from gathering in the first place.
“The San Jose Police Department asks those who visit our City to celebrate Cinco de Mayo safely and responsibly,” the statement said. “Chief Garcia has made it clear that officers will not be going into crowds to issue citations to people violating the social distance health order. We hope everyone is responsible and comply with the health order, however, our number one priority is to ensure people are not causing a public safety concern.”