House bill calls for FBI intervention to crack down on dangerous sideshows

File photo of a sideshow in Oakland. Contra Costa County public works is rollowing out a new tactic for discouraging sideshow participants. 

A California congresswoman is behind a new push to create an FBI task force to crackdown on illegal sideshows and street racing that, for years, have been plaguing cities in the Bay Area and across the country. 

The "They’re Fast, We’re Furious Act of 2023" or House of Representatives Bill (H.R.) 6224, was introduced last month by Representatives Michelle Steel, a Republican from Orange County, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Colo.

"Illegal street racing, takeovers, and sideshows have become a serious safety concern for our local communities. These reckless activities harm innocent drivers, first responders, and local businesses the most and have become a major public safety issue," said Steel. 

The bipartisan bill would establish an FBI-led "Street Racing Prevention and Intervention Task Force," which would coordinate local, state, and federal responses to illegal street racing. The bill also sought to ensure that law enforcement and agencies across jurisdictions work together to obtain the best information and resources available to curb sideshows. 

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For years, cities across the Bay Area, along with their local law enforcement agencies, have been seeking ways to stop these street racing activities, which have led to injuries and even deaths.

Cities have implemented ordinances to make it illegal not only to participate in the stunts, but even promote, or be a spectator. 

Earlier this year, San Jose tried an innovative approach and adopted an initiative to ask social media companies to remove sideshow videos or limit their sharing, in an effort to curtail the promotion of these gatherings.

Despite such measures, these activities continue to pop up in many Bay Area cities, often on weekends, drawing large crowds and putting the community at risk. 

"It is unfortunate to see this behavior grow across our country," Steel said. "Beyond the dangerous nature of these activities, street racing and takeovers cause noise and safety disruptions, negatively impacting small neighborhoods and large cities alike as well as commuters and first responders."

Under the proposal, members of the task force would be appointed by the U.S. attorney general, secretary of transportation, and the FBI director. In addition to the FBI, task force members would come from the Department of Justice Criminal Division, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.