No end in sight for illegal street takeovers in California

Tracy Carbone
Car spinning outPhoto byChris HearnonUnsplash

Note: This article is compiled from several online sources, and all attributions are linked within.

A search of “street car takeover” on Google first yields Street Car Takeover, a happy, prescheduled, safe event where cars drag race. They sell tickets, give prizes, coordinate events throughout the country, and require that all rules be followed.

Unfortunately, adding “California” to the search provides dozens of results of far less safe, and far more destructive, private takeovers. These takeovers, though not exclusive to California, are rising in frequency, violence, and criminal activity in the area.
two men smashing windows during a riotPhoto byAmber KipponUnsplash

Per bizpacreview, in Compton, April 17th, around 100 people "were involved in ransacking an Arco gas station near Alondra Boulevard and Central Avenue, according to ABC7. Video of the street takeover shows a large group of people blocking the four-way intersection with cars drifting in circles with tires screeching loudly.”
Car burning rubberPhoto byClint McKoyonUnsplash

Per the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) “there were at least five illegal street takeovers that took place” at roughly the same time. According to investigators, there were upwards of 500 people "involved in the illegal street races.” With such a large crowd the police were unable to act to “stop the incidents because they were outnumbered.”
police trying to keep control of a crowdPhoto byAndrew ValdiviaonUnsplash

The police endeavor to tamp down these huge and widespread events, and Los Angeles Police Department’s Street Racing Taskforce sometimes has success. On May 2, KTLA reported the taskforce arrested 21 people and impounded at least a dozen vehicles in a weekend crackdown. Though this helped to “eliminate dangerous and disruptive takeover activity,” the events continue.

MSN reported on May 16th that in the spring and summer the street takeovers increase. Though the police cannot always safely break up the street takeovers, they can leverage the public to help them identify and arrest participants after the fact partially because “This culture — they like to show it out in the open on social media," said Detective Juan Campos. The more people with their phones recording events, and in some cases livestreaming themselves, the easier criminals are to catch.
people filming an event with phonesPhoto bycamilo jimenezonUnsplash

In a sobering report which serves as a reminder that takeovers are far from over, NBC Los Angeles reported on a vigil held for Raymond Olivares, who was killed in Compton in February at a takeover. He was killed, and his fiancé, Maria Rivas Cruz injured, when they were innocently crossing the street to go home.

Olivares’ family held the vigil not only to honor his memory but to “demand action and fight for stricter laws.”
people attending a vigilPhoto byThays OrricoonUnsplash

Damian Kevitt, the executive director for Streets Are For Everyone stated, “’We have a public health crisis on the streets in this community across Southern California and we need to treat it as such.’ Kevitt has been pushing for AB 645 which is a bill that would authorize the use of speed cameras on high injury streets. ‘Sadly this could have been approved in previous years and could've prevented Raymond's death and so many other people.’"

Another person pushing for better enforcement is Compton City Councilmember Jonathan Bowers. "This murder, this egregious public safety problem and I'm going to do everything I can in my power to push forward legislation to combat this problem and implement some of the most severe penalties out there.” Until that happens, neighborhoods are terrorized, people get killed, and shops are looted and vandalized.

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I'm a California based writer, blogger, and painter who strives to post local and national articles to inspire and engage my readers.

Simi Valley, CA

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