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Calif. cops break up massive ‘sideshow’ involving over 200 cars

Gunfire was reported but no one was wounded

By Bob Egelko and Hamed Aleaziz
San Francisco Chronicle

OAKLAND, Calif. — California Highway Patrol officers said they broke up an illegal “sideshow” in which more than 200 cars blocked roads at the Port of Oakland, shielding drivers who sped and spun their vehicles.

Highway Patrol officers were in Oakland Wednesday night to assist police at downtown protests over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., when they learned of the unrelated sideshow at the port. Officer Daniel Hill said it took place mostly on Maritime Street between Seventh and West Grand avenues.

A CHP aircraft spotted the sideshow at around 10:30 p.m., the agency said. One of the vehicles lost control and almost struck crowd members. That vehicle was impounded and the driver was cited for participation, CHP said.

Officers blockaded the port entrance, impounded more than a dozen of vehicles, arrested and cited 23 people, and conducted more than 200 interviews, according to the CHP.

Gunfire was reported but no one was wounded, a CHP spokesman said. Officers located two firearms. A small group threw bottles and charged at officers surrounding the crowd, they said. A stolen vehicle, the CHP said, was lit on fire and destroyed.

The agency said it expects to make many more arrests after reviewing CHP aircraft videos, media coverage and field interviews. Participants will be charged with taking part in an illegal “exhibition of speed,” the law’s term for a sideshow, or aiding and abetting it by blocking the roadway, the officer said.

“Sideshow activity is extremely dangerous, what appears easy to accomplish by a professional on a racetrack on a television is in fact difficult to accomplish safely,” Hill said.

Copyright 2014 the San Francisco Chronicle