Sideshow and street racing spectators in San Jose will soon face fines, jail time

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The City of San Jose and the San Jose Police department are cracking down on illegal sideshows, street races and event spectators.

On Tuesday night, city council members unanimously voted to make it illegal for attending a street show. SJPD has the green light to crack down on crowds that come with the crime.

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"Often times, these individuals are doing these sideshows exactly because people are watching," SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia told ABC7 News.

With ordinance approval, anyone there to watch could face a $1,000 fine, and up to six months in jail.

Chief Garcia emphasized the danger goes beyond the driver's seat. He explained to councilmembers, people usually gather by the hundreds-- spectators often use their cars to block traffic, and their bodies as human shields.

Innocent bystanders are also put in danger.

"It seems like a lot of fun, but it's not," San Jose resident Brian Darby told council. "Because actual people really get hurt, and people get killed."

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

A deadly San Jose street racing accident killed an innocent bystander in 2015. ABC7 News was there after an officer was injured in a sideshow in 2017. In October 2018, a driver in a suspected street race struck another vehicle and killed an innocent person.

"They're doing them right where people live, right where their kids are," Councilmember Maya Esparza said. "That's not what we want."

The ordinance looks for spectators within 200 feet of an illegal street show, or anywhere preparations are being made.

Some councilmembers pointed to some concerns, asking what would happen if someone was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with no plans to participate.

Chief Garcia explained that officers would need to use their own discretion in those cases.

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

City council and SJPD will regroup in six months to discuss data and trends with the ordinance in place.

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