After watching Dale Earnhardt Jr. win the NASCAR race this afternoon, I decided to watch Dateline to see a story about street racing activity in Oakland CA. The Dateline show was about what are called Side Shows which feature drivers doing donuts and other loud smoky maneuvers on city streets. Basically a crowd of people late at night will essentially take over an intersection and perform the automotive equivalent of break-dancing.
Naturally, the Oakland authorities are up in arms about this. Having only 29 officers to cover all of Oakland, they are severely outmanned. But what really bothered me was the fact that the government authorities (mostly white) completely dismissed the notion that one of the reasons that the young and mostly black crowds were doing the side shows was because there was nothing else to do at night in East Oakland. Their only solution to the problem was more cops, fines, and jail time for drivers and spectators. With all of the closed shops in Oakland would it be so hard to actually provide a safe venue for events like side shows to take place? Young people everwhere need something fun to do. Either our society will take steps to provide for this, or the young people will make their own fun without the benefit of mature guidance. The police already have enough excuses to arrest young black and latino people, do we need to give them any more?