Let the lowriders cruise: San Jose lifts 30-year ban

San Jose’s City Council voted to remove a ban on cruising that had been in place for 30 years. Supporters of getting rid of the ban say it was used to discriminate against their Mexican culture and heritage. 

Cities across the state have recently lifted bans on cruising, saying the bans lead to racial profiling and criminalization. Now the City of San Jose has overturned its own ban. 

"Over the years, I was stopped dozens of times by the police and nearly every time, I was made to sit on a curb while I and my car were searched. I was questioned about presumed gang involvement," said Raul Peralez, San Jose City Council member for Dist. 3. 

Last month, San Jose City Council member Raul Peralez talked about his own experiences driving his Lowrider and the consequences he faced. On Tuesday, city council members lifted the ban that had been in place since 1992. 

"The NO CRUISING signs are really an archaic form of profiling us as Lowriders, as a community, and it was time for them to come down." said Ricardo Cortez, who owns a Lowrider car. 

San Jose police said the ban hadn’t been enforced in years, but they still supported keeping the ban in place, calling it a tool to ensure public safety and deter crime. While cruising won’t be the focus, police will still enforce any other laws broken. Cortez says an entire group shouldn’t be penalized for individual behavior. 

"In any industry, in any ecosystem, in any community, there’s going to be some negative influence, but that does not define the community," Cortez said. 

Cortez says now he’s focused on the future. In January, he started 408 Art with a grant he received from the San Jose Creative Ambassador Program. The series of summer workshops will teach the next generation about Lowrider culture through history, art and technology. 

"What we’re doing is, we’re building these sound reactive lights that are a very popular accessory for lowriders called color bars and they react to music. In this workshop, we’re building the circuits, we’re showing them how every piece works with each other to create these sound reactive lights that tie them back to lowrider history," Cortez said.  

Cortez says lifting the ban gives the lowrider community a sense of security that they aren’t doing anything wrong when they cruise. Now they’re just looking forward to continuing the tradition and honoring their culture.