The fallout is still coming down from Friday night's sideshows on the Embarcadero and on the Bay Bridge, as residents complain to local TV stations about a lack of any arrests or citations in these affairs.
Sideshows are a Bay Area thing going back a long, long time. But they haven't been happening on the SF side of the Bay for very long, having originated more in the East Bay — and newer residents of the city are baffled by this phenomenon, which appears to be very dangerous for all involved. And it is! But police often can't do too much about them before they disperse.
We reported earlier that there had been brazen sideshows on the Embarcadero and on the Bay Bridge late Friday night, and lasting until after 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Given the proximity of the locations, and that the roughly 15-minute sideshow at the Embarcadero was quickly followed up by a similar sideshow on the eastbound deck of the Bay Bridge, which seemed to have blocked traffic on purpose to facilitate the sideshow tomfoolery, it may be reasonable to assume that the sideshows were linked and largely attended by the same people.
And whether this was intentional or not, moving the sideshow to the Bay Bridge threw law enforcement for a loop when it came to breaking this up. The Embarcadero is under the jurisdiction of the SFPD, the Bay Bridge is under the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol. And that may be a factor in how no arrests were made nor citations issued, and KTVU reports Embarcadero residents are quite vocally unhappy about this.
The KTVU segment above has footage we have not seen before of Friday night’s Embarcadero component of the sideshow, and decries that these proceedings left “tire marks right in front of the iconic Ferry Building.” That video was provided to KTVU by neighborhood resident Prasanna Pilaka, who told KTVU, "It was very noisy," and that “I was worried because some cars were almost pushed into the crowd."
That same sideshow appears to have moved onto the Bay Bridge by around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, per KPIX. Being the Bay Bridge, that created additional complications with pedestrians running around on the bridge, and graffiti being generously applied to the bridge’s structures. "That is bold and I haven't really seen that before,” neighbor Scott Douglas told KPIX. “That is bold and that would be concerning."
With regards to the Embarcadero sideshow, KTVU says that “San Francisco police responded to the sideshow along the Embarcadero but at this time, have not announced any citations or arrests.” With regards to the Bay Bridge sideshow, the station says the California Highway Patrol is “speaking with witnesses but at this time have made no arrests.”
And the CHP had some trouble getting to the scene of the Bay Bridge sideshow. “Responding officers got stuck in the traffic caused by this sideshow, and the only option was to walk in on foot,” KTVU reports. “By the time officers arrived the group dispersed."
San Jose has been more aggressive at sideshow enforcement, making it a crime to attend or promote a sideshow on social media, and issuing citations to spectators by the hundreds thanks to a recent major police maneuver to box in all participants.
The Chronicle reports that now Oakland is mulling new ways to crack down on sideshows, and is “considering a new policy that would penalize organizers and bystanders who come within 200 feet of sideshows.” This law would, per the Chronicle, “target anyone who promotes or organizes a sideshow on social media, and anyone who is watching or participating in the event.”
The targeting of sideshow promoters is not new, but the potential citations or arrests of spectators would be a new rubicon to cross. But San Jose already has, Oakland is thinking about it, and we may see it proposed in San Francisco as well.
Image: itsthebay via Instagram