Police cracking down on Oakland sideshows this weekend

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Sideshows are under fire this weekend in Oakland. A multi-agency task force is on the lookout for them, and they're cracking down.

"We will be beefing up our personnel within the city and joining forces with the Oakland Police Department," said Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ray Kelly.

RELATED: Oakland City Council backs push to crack down on sideshows

The crackdown is on sideshows that have been plaguing East Oakland. Last Sunday, an AC Transit bus and a big rig were set on fire, and the truck driver was then carjacked.

"Our officers were dealing with gunshots, two vehicles set on fire and trying to navigate Oakland Fire Department in to deal with what was going on," Oakland Police Ofc. Johnna Watson said.

In other words, the police were understaffed and overwhelmed. This time, they promise things will be different.

RELATED: 'Complete lawlessness': Semi-truck looted, burned during Oakland sideshow

"If we find you and we catch you, we're taking you to jail," Sgt. Kelly said.

Cat Brooks is a community organizer. She worries what the crackdown will mean for minority youth. "If you do actually apprehend people involved in sideshows, what are the diversion programs? What are the alternatives to incarceration that we can provide our young people?" she asked.

Still, many agree, Oakland's sideshows are growing larger, more violent and are scaring people.

On Tuesday, the city council voted unanimously to back a state assembly bill that would heavily fine sideshow participants, impound their cars for a month and make driving in and even watching a sideshow a crime.

RELATED: 2 large sideshows in Oakland have some city leaders calling for crackdown

Councilman Noel Gallo co-sponsored the bill and wants police to do more. "I am paying their salaries and to protect my neighborhoods and they need to deliver," Gallo said.

Gallo will be testifying before an assembly subcommittee about the sideshows on Tuesday.
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