Oakland sideshow leads to bus explosion



By Jessica Forrester, CONTRIBUTOR

Think of the smell of burning rubber and you hear the sound of tires screeching. Follow the sounds and smells and you can see cars driving back and forth, and cars moving in a circular motion leaving donut-shaped tire tracks behind. The energy is high and the crowd is loud; you are at a sideshow.
The once beloved Oakland tradition of car sideshows lead to a violent and dangerous event recently which left a truck and AC transit bus completely destroyed in a bed of ashes.
Sideshow is the term used to describe an informal car show where people show off their cars to gain the attention of others around. Sideshows started in the 1980s, according to hip hop historian Sean Kennedy. The sideshows began soon after hip-hop emerged in the Bay Area.
In the beginning, it was viewed as more of a show-off event. There was a carnival near Foothill Square that prompted people to drive by and show off their cars. Foothill Square, on the border of San Leandro and Oakland, is where these sideshows took place historically, Kennedy said.
Over the years the meaning of sideshows has taken a turn. It became a place where the community would gather, a cultural marketplace. People began to represent their gangs, showed off their fashion lines, and some people passed their music around to get their voice heard.
Violence seemed to escalate with the popularity of this event. With more people showing up and wanting to see this historic event, people also wanted to participate. It is said to have taken a turn when people with cheaper cars started to do donuts to get attention.
Then, there was Yakpusua Zazaboi, who made a documentary that showed what sideshows were about but it also highlighted the violence and destruction that has emerged upon the sideshow scene. This later sparked the first lawful act to stop sideshows as a whole.
In 2005, then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown made a law that made it illegal for anyone to attend sideshows, and if you were caught you would be arrested.
On April 14, on 42nd Street and International Boulevard, a sideshow ended in the explosion of a semi truck and AC Transit bus.
The Oakland police still are trying to put pieces together but it seems to have been a sideshow in the middle of the intersection and a bus and truck were stuck.
There were approximately 1,000 people in the intersection and there was complete chaos, which then resulted in the fire starting, according to a witness at the scene.
Police officers issued over 200 citations during the sideshow. The event was said to start around 8:45 p.m. and ended with the help of police by 10 p.m.
Oakland police now plan to boost up law enforcement dedicated strictly to sideshows, including more helicopters.