Amid surge in gun violence, Oakland police deploy Sideshow Enforcement unit

Without a doubt, sideshows are an integral part of Oakland's culture. But recently, the illegal gatherings have become more dangerous, resulting in serious injuries and shootings. 

On Sunday April 11, a sideshow in Oakland involved a hundred cars and gun shots. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first incident of it's kind this year. 

"The City has been hit pretty hard recently," said Lt. Casey Johnson, Oakland Police Department. 

In March, there were two shootings at another sideshow that was heavily attended. 

All of this amid a surge in gun violence throughout the city. They city's had 49 homicides this year. Around this time last year there were 22. 

Now, the Oakland Police Department is also battling an influx in sideshows that have become increasingly dangerous. 

"You get individuals that live out here in these communities that are affected by these sideshows and the participants, and the violence that sometimes associates itself with the sideshows," Lt. Johnson told KTVU while conducting a ride along.

Earlier this month, the Oakland city council voted to resume funding of the police department's sideshow unit. OPD is stationing cruisers and plain-clothes officers at sideshow hot spots. 

"The main goal is to keep everyone safe," Lt. Johnson said. "Now that we have these extra officers out we can respond much quicker."

On Saturday, the sideshow unit tracked down a sideshow that was about to start. The crowd dispersed as the unit arrived. 

Lt. Johnson says many of the drivers involved in these sideshows are not even from Oakland.  

Dedicated to stopping illegal gatherings, street racing, and the violence that now comes with it, Oakland Police said they have this warning for sideshow drivers: They may not catch you on the day they see you, but they'll catch up with you later! 

"We will write follow up search warrants and we will go and tow those, seizure warrants, and we will take those vehicles at a later date, even if they are outside the city of Oakland," said Lt. Johnson

With partial funding in place, the department plans to do these weekend patrols for the remainder of the year. 

This weekend, the department says officers will be writing citations, making arrests, and towing vehicles of those caught engaging in the activity. 

Both drivers and spectators are subject to ticketing.