Illegal street takeovers have become commonplace in Los Angeles and authorities warn they can turn deadly.
Takeovers typically involve “flash mobs” of hundreds of onlookers and multiple cars arriving in a coordinated fashion at specific intersections, even highways, and blocking traffic to speed up and show off dangerous stunts like drifting.
As vehicles spin and creak through intersections, the rotation dangerously close to cheering crowdsthe stunts are often filmed by bystanders and posted on social media – which police say sparks even more interest in the illegal activity.
Illegal street racing has always been part of Los Angeles motoring culture, but police say the practice has changed over the years. KTLA spoke with the Los Angeles Police Department Traffic Group, Cmdr. Al Pasos about the issue.
“Meeting points” taken on social networks
Social media has helped large groups of people get to places faster, Pasos told KTLA.
“They use social media and cell phone technology to create meeting points,” Pasos said. “They use their network to identify the areas they are going to go to, which drives a mass of people to go there.”
The commander said the release of videos of the stunts can also fuel interest in the illicit activity.
“I also think the high-profile novelty of filming these things, whether it’s via a live stream, via someone’s web page or their post…as well as the coverage when the media picks it up, drives people out and get more involved in them,” he said.
Spectators block officers
The way participants in street takeovers react to the appearance of law enforcement has also changed, according to the commander.
Pasos said the attendees were now trying to “derail law enforcement.”
“When I was young, people were cooperative; they left the scene, they put their cars on trailers and they left. Now they’re having confrontations with officers and they’re using the causeway and all the onlookers to stop us from even having a way in and sorting it out,” Pasos said.
What can happen to those caught participating or watching?
Participants may face citations for violations and have their vehicles confiscated.
Meanwhile, bystanders may also face a misdemeanor citation and be given a court date to appear, authorities said.
Has the problem gotten worse?
Illegal street takeovers are common and seen across the country.
It has been reported that street racing leaps in the early months of the pandemic, when the streets were emptier, and continued to rise even after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
But Pasos said it’s difficult to identify the increase in illicit activity because not all takeovers go unreported and different law enforcement agencies respond based on location. where it happens.
Additionally, police believe there are bystanders who are beaten and injured during street grabs, but do not report the incidents to law enforcement for fear of further questioning, there There is therefore no precise count of the injuries sustained during these activities.
“When we have a massive group of people and they are on the pavement as they are, it is only a matter of time – as demonstrated this weekend – that we are going to see someone suffer a injury that is a victim,” Pasos said.
What happened in Compton?
On Sunday, an alleged street takeover in the area of North Wilmington Avenue and West Stockwell Street ended in two young women killed.
A witness said the women were in a sedan that drifted or swayed around the intersection during a street takeover. One of the women was apparently hanging from the window while the other was driving when the sedan collided with an SUV.
The LAPD commander said it was the first street takeover he had seen that resulted in deaths, particularly among participants.
“It’s another word of warning to the community that not only are they inherently dangerous to spectators, but now we see inherently dangerous to participants,” Pasos said.
What is LAPD doing to fix the problem?
“I can tell you that we have strategies and we have enforcement efforts and we have traffic control groups that are tackling the problem,” Pasos said. “I can’t really go beyond that because it might undermine what we’re trying to achieve.”
The commander’s message to the participants?
“I just want them to know that even if they believe they are just showing off their ability to maneuver a vehicle, this past tragedy should be a message to them that this is going to happen to one of them as well. than to any viewer, and that they could be criminally and civilly liable for all of these actions,” he said.