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Sideshow Takeovers of Intersections Must End, Fresno Leaders Say

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A sideshow takeover of a northeast Fresno intersection early Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (YouTube)
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Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama and other city officials say that participants in a rash of sideshow takeovers at Fresno intersections will be held accountable.

“The Fresno Police Department is aware of the sideshows occurring in our City over the weekend and we have opened investigations into them,” Balderrama told GV Wire in an email.

“The recklessness of these events endanger those who are participating, and also innocent persons who may be driving by. We are committed to identifying those who organize sideshow events as well as those who participate, and we will hold them accountable.”

City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who represents northeast Fresno, said that he expects arrests will be made for these sideshows.

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says that the participants in the sideshows held over the Thanksgiving weekend will be held accountable. (YouTube)

Bredefeld: ‘We Have to Get Rid of This Lawlessness’

“We’re not going to allow this to continue to occur,” Bredefeld said. “Not only is it dangerous, but we’ve got to get rid of this kind of lawlessness.”

Videos posted on YouTube show sideshow drivers and spectators commandeering intersections over Thanksgiving weekend, particularly in northeast Fresno. In these incidents, spectators blocked off intersections, allowing participating cars and trucks to burn their tires and drift in repeated circles.

“This is No. 6 (takeover),” a spectator tells a man videoing a sideshow at Bullard and Chestnut avenues posted to YouTube on Sunday.

A woman posting to Facebook at 12:46 a.m. on Sunday wrote:

“Praying no one is hurt, but cars racing up and down Willow. And I mean so loud, so many it’s unreal doing donuts and guns going off and police sirens going off. It’s crazy. It’s 12:41 in the morning. I know guys like to race but someone is going to be killed. Sirens still going off now helicopter going over. Absolutely Crazy. This is Fresno, CA, so sad.”

Watch: Fresno Sideshow Takeover

Another Sideshow Crackdown in the Works

In January, a sideshow near the intersection of East Pine and North Villa, south of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, injured several spectators. Brandon Hernandez, 19, of Visalia, was arrested on charges of reckless driving and hit and run with injuries.

Fresno Police Deputy Chief Mike Reid said that officers scoured social media and found posts indicating the collision was part of a sideshow.

A month later, Fresno police dodged bottles thrown at them from hundreds of racing spectators and participants in a Target parking lot.

Law enforcement responded with a multi-agency crackdown targeting illegal street racing and sideshows. Participating in the effort: Fresno police, the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Automotive Repair.

Councilman Mike Karbassi, whose northwest Fresno district has experienced sideshow intersection takeovers and street racing, said that another multi-agency effort to combat the illegal activities will be announced in the coming days.

The effort will involve increased police presence on the streets, as well as impounds and fines for illegally modified cars and trucks, Karbassi said.

On Dec. 26, 2020, four people were killed at the intersection of Palm and Bullard avenues in a collision that police attributed to a driver who had been racing on Blackstone. That driver, who ran a red light at high speed, was killed along with the three occupants of another vehicle.

Billboards on Blackstone Avenue warn of the dangers posed by street racing. (GV Wire File)

 

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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