Sideshows, where large groups of people gather to watch and cheer on drivers participating in illegal performance driving maneuvers, remain a problem for many cities. Now, the city of New Orleans is seeing a rise in the practice, also called “pop up shows”, and it’s searching for solutions. New videos emerging from the city show some of the boldest behavior we’ve seen from crowds at these side shows.
On Monday, the New Orleans Police Department held a press conference condemning the practice. Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said that four different locations in the city had stunt shows take place on Sunday, June 5th. He noted that individuals were involved in bold and brazen behavior.
That included not only performance stunt driving, in this case almost exclusively doing donuts in the middle of intersections, but also the crowd’s illegal reaction to police presence. In a number of videos uploaded to the web, we see people jumping on police vehicles, kicking them, and slapping the windows.
As a result, Superintendent Ferguson says that the city will become more bold and brazen in its response. No longer will those involved be charged with reckless driving and sent on their way. Now, participants will be charged with aggravated obstruction of highway or commerce. If convicted, offenders could be sentenced to up to 15 years in jail.
Ferguson has said that he’s also advocating for harsh penalties for those in attendance at these events. If that sounds dramatic, the words of Councilman Oliver Thomas took things to another level. “This is not Gotham City,” he said. “The Joker and Penguin don’t run this city.”
Thankfully, another Councilman, Eugene Green, has recently demonstrated a more nuanced view that highlights how important it is to address stunts like this appropriately. “If the police flinched and ran after two or three motorcyclists and an accident happened what would be our response as a public and as the media,” Green asked according to Nola.com. “Why would they run after them for a non-violent offense like that?”
Green does, however, advocate for holding the spectators accountable, citing their attendance as a large reason that these stunt shows take place. What are your thoughts on stunt shows such as these? Does a 15-year jail sentence sound unreasonable for someone involved in one of these events? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.