30 kids having fun (killing people)

I was more than a little disappointed in the New York Times when I read this story, a "Wheels" column over the weekend, treating street takeovers as if they were some sort of hobby, like a road rally – fun, almost wholesome, just a wee bit naughty.

A decade or so later, sideshows became the venue for the Bay Area’s hyphy movement, which was fueled by a combination of hip-hop music and frenetic dancing. After clubs let out, parking lots and intersections erupted into hip-hop raves. Oakland’s street fashion and trippy dance moves were on full display. Car stereos blasted dance anthems by budding local hip-hop legends like Mac Dre, E-40, Keak da Sneak and Richie Rich. Sideshow drivers and passengers would occasionally jump out of the car, dancing beside or on top of a slow-moving vehicle, in a move called “ghost riding the whip.” For a brief moment, Oakland was the national center of Black youth creativity.

By the 2010s, sideshows shifted again, with larger crowds commandeering busier intersections and screeching drift cars taking center stage. Now with the arrival of Instagram, spectators are snapping photos and sharing videos. The bravest try to capture the most dramatic footage by inching as close as possible to two-ton cars hurling across the pavement. There are no barriers to protect bystanders from getting sideswiped by moving vehicles. Spectator injuries and collisions between automobiles are regular occurrences, providing viral content on social media.

Oh, the fun.

They neglect to acknowledge the horrors that these mob scenes can bring about. Here in Portland, in one recent week, street takeovers produced a fatal shooting; the death of an innocent bystander mowed down while waiting for the bus; and a neighbor beaten unconscious because he dared to take out his phone and start making a video recording.

It's a real sin on the part of the Times to be normalizing, even glorifying, this. Even the cops are scared to go in and break these things up. We are very near the end of civilized society, but if there's a hip-hop soundtrack, I guess the Times is down with it.

Be that as it may, for Portlanders sick of the local police force's two-year-long unofficial strike, there's at least the consolation that we have company to the south:

The Oakland Police Department monitors sideshow activity but has nearly given up trying to prevent them from happening. Capt. James Beere believes sideshows are a threat to public safety. He said that the noise, smoke and violence reported on local television news make some residents afraid to leave their homes during a sideshow.

But traffic violations, no matter how potentially dangerous, are not the city’s highest law enforcement priority. “We’re so short-staffed right now,” Captain Beere said. Responding to sideshows requires pulling officers from other patrols, he said, and homicides are a more urgent focus. City officials instead try to address complaints by installing planters, speed bumps and other traffic-calming devices to prevent sideshows.

Your tax dollars, hardly working as usual. 


  1. Replies
    1. Not sure where you're going to go on the West Coast to get any better. Maybe it's time to head back east.

    2. Drain or Yoncalla. Your urban bias is showing.

  2. Well of course they aren’t going to be “the heavy” and come down on the scene in Oakland or other inner cities. To do so would be to risk being labeled as not being culturally sensitive. Or worse.

    We are all supposed to celebrate any and all sorts of degeneracy and dumbing down of our culture now. Even as we all swirl down the collective drain together.

  3. When was the last time the Toilet Paper of Record wrote an article that was not biased and factually full of holes? They did a great job with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    We used to cruise Broadway every weekend until they blocked off the roads, but we never started shooting at people and blocking the roads. Perhaps paint guns with really bright colors would be useful to "enhance" these knuckleheads' rides?


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