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Nearly 170 Cited, 6 Vehicles Impounded In South San Jose Sideshow Crackdown

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Nearly 170 people were cited and several vehicles were impounded following a large sideshow in South San Jose over the weekend.

San Jose Police tweeted on Sunday that the sideshow took place in the intersection of San Ignacio Avenue and Great Oaks Boulevard.

"It's dangerous. We've had police officers assaulted in the past. We've had our patrol cars vandalized by these participants. So when we have enough resources, we're certainly going to get organized, coordinated and we're going to respond," Sgt. Christian Camarillo told KPIX 5 on Monday.

Along with citations for violating the city's sideshow spectator ordinance, police said six vehicles were impounded for 30 days.

On Monday morning, police posted pictures of the aftermath at the intersection, along with a picture purportedly of a spectator at the event firing an assault rifle into the air.

"This dangerous activity is not welcomed in San José, we will find you, cite you, and tow your car if possible," police said Sunday.

Under an ordinance passed in 2019, sideshow spectators can be fined up to $1,000 and face jail time of up to six months. In July, the city toughened its crackdown on sideshows, making the promotion of street racing or sideshows over social media, phone or word of mouth also subject to fines and jail time.

"There's a right place to do this -- in a controlled area. You're putting people's life at risk. And being reckless is definitely not something that I would recommend," said Alvaro Armendariz, who works in the area of Sunday's sideshow.

Even with the increased penalties, sideshows remain a problem in San Jose. On July 31, a spectator suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle.

"We understand the public is frustrated, but we really are doing the best we can," Camarillo told KPIX 5 following the sideshow last month, noting the department's ongoing short staffing issues limit its ability to respond to sideshows safely and with large numbers of officers.

"It's not the type of incident where we can send two, three or four patrol cars to," said Camarillo. "We need to have a really coordinated and organized response to deal with these effectively."

Two weeks ago, sideshows were reported in multiple areas across the city, including a sideshow near Penitencia Creek County Park where more than 200 vehicles fled the scene. At another event, several spectators were struck by a vehicle taking part.

During the crackdown two weeks ago, 20 people were cited for violating the spectator ordinance and four vehicles were towed. When officers stopped one vehicle, a so-called "ghost gun" was seized and two people were arrested.

"We're going to keep citing people, we're going to keep towing cars. The public is frustrated, they're certainly sharing that frustration with us," Camarillo said Monday. "We're going to respond."

Devin Fehely contributed to this report.

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