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Taking Back Their Streets; Makeshift Cleanup Crew Bags Up Oakland Sideshow Trash

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Crystal Lucero grew up in Oakland and was stunned by the piles of debris left behind by an illegal sideshow that reeled out of control over the weekend.

She felt she needed to take some kind of action. When a friend posted on social media that she wanted to clean up the mess, Lucero knew she had to be part of the effort.

"From what I saw Sunday night on social media I was disgusted that people would not only loot from a truck destroy property but to throw all that stuff everywhere," Lucero said. "To walk up and see what was being cleaned -- there was toilet paper and Styrofoam products everywhere and it was sad that people would disrespect our home."

Lucero, her friend Minnie, Yanira Cortez, Diana Garcia and Ginger Cuevas formed the makeshift cleanup crew.

"I always see people online post to complain about what's being done, but why not be part of the solution," she said. "I just hope that by doing this we inspired some to want to be more proactive and positive in the community rather then complain about things not being done."

The women gathered on the corner of 42nd Avenue and International Boulevard on Monday, armed with garbage bags. The night before several hundred bystanders had surrounded the intersection as cars spun donuts in the middle of the street. In the frenzy of the moment, emotions boiled over.

"Members of the sideshow crowd surrounded a commercial transport truck and an AC Transit bus," the police said in a release. "The driver of the commercial transport truck was removed at gunpoint and the truck was set on fire (he sustained no injuries)."

Then the crowd turned their attention to an AC Transit bus.

"The AC Transit bus's windows were broken out and the bus was set on fire (no injuries reported)," police said. "As officers attempted to clear the area, so that the Oakland Fire Department could extinguish the fire, gunshots were heard from inside the crowd, which delayed response."

Police were able to gain an upper hand and sideshow activity concluded by 10 p.m. But burned paper, cardboard and other trash was left behind.

"Sideshows are part of our culture," Minnie wrote on Instagram under her online social handle Hellacrafty. "But trashing our city isn't. We not finna sit right knowing it's happening."

The women arrived at the corner Monday morning and after several hours of work had collected the trash into bags as drivers drove by honking their horns in approval.

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