Frustrated neighbors concerned about safety and noise from Oakland sideshows

Neighbors living in one East Oakland community say something needs to be done, before people get hurt during illegal sideshows.

Over the weekend, there were reports of several large sideshows across Oakland. Residents are frustrated and worried.

Oakland police said they are deploying additional resources to stop illegal sideshows. But people who live near Mills College said there was a large sideshow on Sunday night around 9:30 p.m.  and there was no police presence until it was all over.

Residents said the sideshow drew hundreds of people.

"Two in the last two weeks right outside my door. I can hear them all around," said Sherry Meek, a neighbor. They said the sideshow lasted about an hour.

"It sounded like a long car crash, squealing tires engines revving," said Merced Gonzalez, a neighbor. 

"I'm scared. It's literally on my property. People with guns are walking across our yard. I watch them fire the guns," said Meek.

Neighbors said sideshow activity has increased in recent weeks and that they've called police and contacted city leaders repeatedly, but have seen no improvement. 

"I saw one guy acting like a toreador. He was holding a sign and getting in there and cars trying to hit him," said neighbor Lee Donehower. 

He said he did not see a police presence until the sideshow was over and that a police officer told him sideshow participants far outnumber police, and that officers are following orders to avoid confrontations.

"We have to be intelligent in how and when we deploy," said city council member Loren Taylor who represents this area.

He says he's working with Oakland police and others to fund and strategize sideshow enforcement.

"We need to get on social media. We need to look and see when these things are happening so officers can be there early and not responding after the fact and after a sideshow has already grown," said Taylor.

He said he is also working on resources to impound vehicles involved and install physical barriers such as roundabouts and lane dividers.

"I want them to do something before people get hurt," said Meek.

Oakland Police said officers are trained in de-escalation.

When they're outnumbered, they do not want it to lead to any confrontation or use of force.