Bay Area/ Oakland/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on August 13, 2023
Oakland in Disarray: Multiple Sideshows Reach Fever Pitch in City Streets YesterdayDominik Sostmann on Unsplash

Over the weekend, the Bay Area experienced a series of chaotic sideshows. These events, marked by reckless driving and dangerous stunts, have a long history in the area, particularly in East Oakland. The recent uptick in activity has left locals concerned, authorities scrambling, and onlookers gripping their smartphones to record the drama.



Three sideshows in the East Bay featured fireworks and burning cars. One of these events in Oakland's Redwood Road and Mountain Boulevard intersection had spinning vehicles dangerously close to spectators, while another at 7th and Grand Avenue saw a car erupting into flames.



Sideshows are part of East Oakland's culture, traced back to the 1980s when they were smaller events held in parking lots, involving young men showcasing their flashy cars while onlookers gathered to watch. However, by 2023, these sideshows have grown into large-scale events, with some engaging around 3,000 people at a time.



In an attempt to curb the rising problem, Oakland introduced a new measure in Spring 2023 that criminalizes organizing and facilitating sideshows. According to Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, violators can face fines or jail time, with fines potentially adding up to significant amounts.

So, why have sideshows become increasingly wild over the past decade? DJ Daryl told KRON4, who produced the 1990 record "Side Show," believes that the shift occurred when drug dealers initially involved in the events started going to prison. In their absence, people who took their place were more daring and chaotic. However, another East Bay resident Maximino offers another perspective to KRON4, crediting the prevalence of smartphones and social media, where wild tricks and dangerous actions can go viral, garnering millions of views, encouraging participants to push the limits for online fame.