Crime - Sacto 911

Police disperse downtown Sacramento sideshow, apparent tribute to actor Paul Walker

A look at the past and present of illegal and disruptive car stunts called ‘sideshows’

The Sacramento region has seen an uptick in sideshows in recent years, with one California Highway Patrol spokesman saying the illegal driving demonstrations hit the streets in north Sacramento County nearly every weekend.
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The Sacramento region has seen an uptick in sideshows in recent years, with one California Highway Patrol spokesman saying the illegal driving demonstrations hit the streets in north Sacramento County nearly every weekend.

Police and California Highway Patrol officers responded to sideshow activity involving nearly 200 vehicles Thursday night, with large displays popping up in downtown Sacramento and the Natomas area, authorities said.

Sacramento Police were initially dispatched to the area of 18th and W streets about 8:30 p.m. for reports of “some sort of sideshow forming in the area,” department spokesman Officer Karl Chan said.

Officers then located a large group of vehicles, “maybe 100-plus,” in the area of 8th and W streets, Chan said. Police later said in a news release that about 200 vehicles were seen.

Sacramento police dispersed the downtown sideshow with the assistance of the CHP. No arrests or enforcement action were taken at that time, Chan said.

Police responded to another sideshow later in the night in the Natomas area, Chan said, where several enforcement stops were made and one driver was arrested for driving under the influence.

Sacramento police Capt. Norm Leong in a tweet about 9:40 p.m. Thursday said officers were “currently dealing with at least a hundred cars doing sideshows near W/8th Street.” In another tweet just before 10 p.m., Leong said most of the cars had left the area.

Sideshows are illegal displays in which drivers overrun intersections, city streets or stretches of freeway to do tricks with their cars, including burnouts and donuts, often accompanied by spectators who watch on foot from lanes of traffic.

“There were rumors floating around that there was some sort of social media post” organizing the sideshow event, Chan said.

An image circulating on social media earlier Thursday appears to indicate that the night’s sideshow was a planned tribute to late actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in the “Fast and the Furious” film franchise. Walker died in November 2013 in a high-speed vehicle collision in Santa Clarita. Walker would have turned 46 Thursday.

A poster appearing in several Facebook and Instagram posts included a photo of the actor, included the message “HBD (Happy Birthday) Paul Walker,” the address 1801 W St., Thursday’s date and a time of 8:30 p.m.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.
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