OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Illegal sideshows, where cars do high-speed spins and slides just inches from hundreds of people, have got to stop, say Bay Area law enforcement.
“Most recently they’ve been shining lasers through the smoke for visual effects,” said California Highway Patrol Flight Officer Shaun Bouyea.
But it didn’t stop there. The crowd even turned the lasers on the CHP helicopter.
CHP Pilot Pete Gavitte said, “Once it hits the Plexiglas of the cockpit, it scatters just like shotgun pellets do, so it’s like a disco ball in the aircraft.”
Gavitte says the attack was blinding.
“I’m sure the people on the ground at the sideshow event, they’re doing it to try and distract or make the aircraft go away because they don’t want us to observe what they’re doing,” Gavitte said.
Officers say the sideshows are growing. More people, more cars, more often.
A sideshow in Oakland over Thanksgiving weekend drew 500 people and more than 150 cars. When officers tried to break it up, the crowd started throwing rocks and bottles at police.
That’s why three agencies, the Oakland police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Highway Patrol are teaming up to form a task force to crack down on the illegal car shows.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said, “If that means towing cars, if that means citations and arrests, then you do that type of enforcement to send a message of zero tolerance.”