Stop dangerous street racing and intersection takeovers in Los Angeles
Stop dangerous street racing and intersection takeovers in Los Angeles
Why this petition matters
Mayor Eric Garetti, the Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, LAPD, LASD, CHP, and Neighborhood Councils:
Super Bowl LVI is coming up on Sunday, February 13, 2022, and—win or lose—street racers will take to the street all over Los Angeles, creating dangerous traffic conditions for all citizens and impeding traffic with mob-like intersection takeovers. We are calling on the government of the city of Los Angeles and the law enforcement agencies to come up with a plan to deal with the impending lawlessness.
Street racing and street/intersection takeovers have become pervasive throughout Los Angeles, occurring weekly at some locations, yet the response from local legislators and law enforcement has been lacking. Calls and emails to local police stations and legislators have elicited little to no response, or, at best, the creation of limited task forces. It appears that Los Angeles elected officials and authorities do not take this problem seriously. Law-abiding citizens of Los Angeles are fed up with these street racing activities and the lack of response.
Nothing will change until laws, strategies, and consequences are amended to deal effectively with this problem!
We, the undersigned citizens of greater Los Angeles, demand that the LAPD institute a wide net of sobriety checkpoints at known takeover intersections throughout Los Angeles before, during, and after the Super Bowl event in order to stop the predictable aftermath.
We demand that our city and law enforcement leadership formulate and implement a plan for the LONG-TERM response to intersection takeovers and street racing by the 2023 financial year, in order to ensure the safety of its citizens in our homes and on our streets!
Organized street racing and the associated car events known as “sideshows” or “intersection takeovers” have become an increasing, and increasingly unwelcome, part of the Los Angeles experience. An unresponsive local legislature, lack of significant consequences, un-empowered neighborhood councils, and policing agencies that come up with short-term solutions have contributed to the problem.
The upsurge of intersection takeovers is particularly disturbing. These events go beyond simple car tricks like doing donuts in empty parking lots. They are coordinated on social media and take place regularly at known locations throughout the city. A large mob descends upon a chosen intersection. They use their vehicles and their bodies to block all traffic, while cars and trucks perform stunts within the intersection. These events are extremely loud, obnoxious, and dangerous, and can last for hours. The vehicles that “perform” and attend are often modified to emit very loud noises, including exhaust pipe explosions. Fireworks are often used during the stunts. These events are visually and aurally disturbing, with participants hanging out of vehicle windows or crowding around the vehicles, trying to get as close as possible without being run over, while the cars screech in circles and rev their engines.
Intersection takeovers trap innocent people in deadlock positions at the intersections, block emergency vehicles, and create large clouds of toxic smoke that drift into nearby neighborhoods week after week. Vulnerable members of our community are especially affected by these events: the elderly, infants and young children, animals both wild and domesticated, people suffering from illness, and just regular people trying to go to sleep to get ready for their next day of work. Individuals suffering from dementia, depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness are particularly hard-hit. These events are also a form of vandalism because the intersections at which they regularly take place become marked with black tire marks that completely obscure any traffic markings. Many disturbing videos have documented these events on social media, including platforms like Facebook, Citizen, and Nextdoor.
Given the dangerous and public nature of these events, it is unconscionable how poor of a police response citizens can expect when reporting them. Officers often arrive in a single patrol car, scattering participants. This is unbelievably dangerous for the responding officers. Yet, little else is done. In fact, the participants look forward to this part of the event. They desire to be chased by police. This response also sends caravans of speeding cars down side streets at high speeds. Sometimes, helicopters are used to track the progress of these caravans of cars through the city, which only makes it more exciting for participants. In effect, there are simply no consequences for the organization of or participation in these events, and many thrills.
The groups that organize these events are also involved with street racing, and with long motorcades of reckless cars that travel up and down the main streets of Los Angeles. Street racing is an act of violence that frequently takes lives of innocent citizens going about their day. How many people have to be killed before an effective policy is implemented to extend the consequences of street racing and crack down on known locations? How long will these anti-social drivers get away with dramatic, public mayhem?
While many of the participants for given intersection take over are local, these events also draw participants from the surrounding areas, including San Bernardino, Riverside, Bakersfield, and Orange County. We can expect this to happen on Superbowl Sunday.
An effective response to the escalating street vehicular violence that Los Angeles is experiencing will include:
- increased legal consequences for participants
- effective police response in force resulting in the arrest of those conducting the stunts and citation of participants who are standing in the intersection blocking traffic
Consequences should include:
- the long-term revocation of driving privileges for the participants who are performing and organizing the stunts
- permanent loss of any vehicle used in stunts, or that has been improperly modified to perform stunts or create loud noises
- stiff fines and the short-term loss of driving privileges for bystanders
The physical architecture of the Los Angeles city streets where these events take place are also part of the problem. Long-term solutions that should also be considered include:
- using sobriety checkpoints, traffic cones, and or concrete barriers to impede traffic through regularly affected intersections after 10 pm
- modification of popular takeover intersections to make these events difficult or impossible including:
- creating physical barriers at known takeover locations and on known racing streets with concrete barriers
- the placement of a central sign or barrier within the intersection or conversion to roundabout
- the placement of low speed bumps with in the intersection, or ceramic dots that would also make these tricks impossible
- turning popular intersections into roundabouts
- Installation of gates and barriers around business parking lots and gas stations where people park to get out and block the intersections
- the establishment of legal venues for racing and car tricks
Traditional policing tactics such as arrests, tasers, and physical restraint will not curb these event, so long-term solutions will have to be creative. Temporary task forces work temporarily. Other possible responses include:
- the use of drones to obtain photographic images of the participants without endangering officer safety
- the use of moles within the crowds for the same purpose
- the use of a non-toxic, non-irritant, semi-permanent and extremely smelly ink or dye that can be sprayed on participants, delivered by drone, allowing them to be identified and cited later at checkpoints strategically placed throughout the city
- the use of a non-toxic, non-irritant, semi-permanent and extremely smelly ink or dye to mark cars that are participating in these events, delivered by drone, allowing them to be identified and impounded later at checkpoints strategically placed throughout the city
Whatever the response, it is clear that creativity and consistent enforcement will be needed to curb street racing and its associated behavior to bring peace back to the city of Los Angeles.