SF residents question police response times after weekend sideshows wreak havoc

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many say it was a weekend of chaos and mayhem in San Francisco after illegal sideshows attracted hundreds of spectators, creating a nightmare for neighbors. Now some are questioning the police response.

It was a scary, real-time wake-up call for neighbors early Sunday - a sideshow burning rubber across the intersection of Harrison and Main near the Bay Bridge.

"You could smell the rubber, brutal smell, fireworks going off, loud tires, a nightmare for everyone," said neighbor Will Decker.

Neighbors believe at least 300 showed up to watch, skid marks were left behind in the intersection.

WATCH: Video shows cars spinning during San Francisco sideshow, blocking entrance of Bay Bridge
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A sideshow temporarily blocked an entrance to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco Sunday night..



Witnesses say police arrived about 15 minutes after the sideshow began.

"I think the response should have been quicker, we have a police station at the bottom of the hill so I don't know what can be done," said neighbor Mike Frankfort.
The SFPD says officers responded to three sideshows across the city over the weekend. The department declined our request for an interview but in a statement said, "In each incident, the SFPD Stunt Driving Response Unit arrived on scene and is conducting investigations for each location. At this time no arrests have been made but our investigators are working to identify those involved."

VIDEO: Drivers spin donuts across I-880 during Oakland sideshow
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A sideshow took over the I-880 freeway in Oakland, California, late Sunday afternoon.



In 2020, San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safai helped create the police task force to crack down on dangerous sideshows, allowing police to impound cars used in the events for at least two weeks, he says the law is helping to reduce sideshows but because San Francisco is down about 500 police officers, it affects the enforcement.

"Being short on officers does play into the overall lawlessness in the city that does happen from time to time. We can balance being dedicated to justice reform but still holding people accountable when they do things which denigrate our city," said Safai.

"We're doing the best we can, do we need more help? Obviously. Do we need more bodies? Without a doubt," said Lt. Tracy McCray, acting president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

VIDEO: They're called 'Botts' Dots' and they could be the answer to deterring Oakland sideshows
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Oakland is implementing a new strategy to deter sideshows from happening in some of their busiest intersections.



Police officials say better intelligence is needed across social media to intercept sideshow events before they happen.

"That's another avenue we have to monitor and pick up the chatter to learn about these events," said McCray.

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