FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 15, 2021
Oakland, California - On Monday, Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao (D4) and Councilmember Treva Reid (D7) denounced the illegal sideshows taking place across Oakland.
“The rise in sideshow activity we’re seeing is dangerous for Oakland families including those individuals participating in the activity. Sideshows are now a weekly occurrence all over Oakland. The danger is more than illegal street maneuvers putting Oaklanders at risk; we’re hearing gunshots coming from these sideshows now, a new and dangerous facet, all happening in front of residential neighborhoods. The City needs to step up to put a stop to this activity. We must invest in programming for our young people, enforce our laws, and implement environmental designs that make it more difficult for dangerous sideshows to take place. We also need to monitor social media and other sources to anticipate sideshows and prevent them from happening in the first place.”
Sideshow activity has increased in the last six months, even as nonviolent crime in parts of Oakland has dropped. Council President Pro Tempore Thao has heard from numerous constituents, as well as from her own residence, gunfire accompanying the recent sideshows. Videos posted to YouTube claiming to represent the recent sideshows shows individuals firing guns into the air, sometimes as a way to disperse a crowd.
President Pro Tempore Thao also called on the Mayor and her colleagues on the City Council to allocate more resources toward sideshow prevention and enforcement.
“The City needs to respond to this immediately. Sideshows put our entire community at risk. They block major intersections and therefore vital corridors for emergency responders. The gunfire puts our entire community at risk. And the sideshows are dangerous for those involved, not to mention the risk to our transportation infrastructure. The City must make preventing and enforcing illegal sideshow activity a priority.”
Councilmember Treva Reid states, “The cry from our community is clear from East Oakland and throughout the City, we need to restore funding for the Oakland Police Department’s Sideshow Enforcement Unit to ensure public safety and peace for all of our residents. As the Council is currently deliberating this fiscal year’s budget, I ask my Council colleagues and the Administration to join us and make this restoration a top budget priority."
In December, the City Administrator reduced the budget of the Police Department’s Sideshow Enforcement unit, even as sideshows were on the rise. This action was communicated to the City Council only after it was taken.
With the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act in Congress, the City of Oakland expects to receive over $100 million. President Pro Tempore Thao is urging the Mayor and the City Council to allocate some of that funding to restore OPD’s Sideshow Enforcement capacity. Restoring OPD’s Sideshow Enforcement capacity will allow the City to monitor social media and other sources to anticipate and prevent sideshows from occuring by blocking freeway exits and intersections where sideshow activity is planned.
“It is unacceptable for the City to allow anyone to take over an intersection and fire a gun in the air. It puts everyone at risk, and it tells the community that anything goes in Oakland. We need a swift response to sideshows to keep Oaklanders safe, and reset the thinking around what’s okay to do in Oakland.” said Councilmemebr Thao.