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Saturday Sideshow


During the 1980s and 1990s in the Bay Area of San Francisco, car sideshows became a popular impromptu form of local car show that stemmed from traditional cruising culture. Based primarily around Oakland car culture and skewing heavily African American, sideshows have often been the target of various law enforcement actions since their inception and are (mostly erroneously) associated with gang activity, mainly due to their influence and promotion in the hip-hop community. Some districts like San Jose City have even gone so far as to outlaw any large, unsanctioned car gatherings to try and curb street racing, violence, and dangerous stunt driving, such as doughnuts, ghost riding, and car surfing. Car enthusiasts and civil rights organizations typically oppose such regulations because of their heavily racial overtones. However, given the nature of a couple of sideshows in Sacramento on Saturday afternoon, which were blatantly illegal and endangered public safety, that defense has become a whole lot harder.

According to Sacramento’s KCRA News, at around 3:50 p.m. Saturday on I-5, more than 50 cars blocked off a large section of the interstate for about 15 minutes before being broken up by police. According to witnesses and several videos on social media, drivers were spinning doughnuts, burning out, and drag racing near National Drive and North Market Boulevard. Many spectators got out of their vehicles to observe the spectacle before police arrived to break up the scene. In a similar incident only a short while earlier at another nearby location, police took in seven individuals, impounded nine cars, and wrote 27 citations before traffic was able to return to normal, but no arrests have been made in the I-5 incident.

Regardless of how one feels about these types of events, closing down an entire section of a major interstate during the middle of the day is a pretty brazen, dangerous, and obviously illegal act, and if someone was having a medical emergency and needed to get to the hospital or fire and rescue needed to respond to a disaster, it would have been all but impossible to get through. But judging by the videos of participants trying to peel out and run from the cops, they were well aware of this and were intentionally flaunting in the face of law enforcement. And while I have definitely burned my fair share of tires and ripped more doughnuts than I care to admit, and while many of the cars were admittedly pretty awesome, I think I’ll just stick to my local, legally sanctioned Cars and Coffee meetups and then spend the remainder of my Saturday afternoon in the comfort of my living room rather than the cold interior of a county jail cell.

Here is a link to the original KCRA News article with video:

-Trey Fennell

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