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Flash Mobs leave residents, communities at painful loss


What’s behind the recent increase?

Recently, South Los Angeles has seen an increase in street activities that have caused businesses and people to suffer. There has been an influx of drag races, car sideshows, and flash mobs, which have equalled businesses getting ransacked, fatal traffic accidents, and the destruction of government and local property.

Flash Mobs have always been an activity for good or evil, and recently they’ve been organized to do more harm to the community and local businesses. Since the pandemic, South Los Angeles businesses have been the victim of flash mobs, all ending in businesses losing thousands of dollars of stolen goods and thousands in damaged property. Several businesses have experienced firsthand what a flash mob can do to convenience stores and gas stations being targeted the most by teenagers, with one occuring this past week on April 16 at a Compton Arco gas station.

The gas station, located near Alondra Boulevard and Central Avenue, was bum-rushed by a large group of people early Sunday morning who stole thousands of goods like drinks, snacks, alcohol, and even condoms. Gas station employees hid in the bathroom while the looting was happening, employees were reported to be safe after the looting transpired.

Compton residents living near that intersection have stated that the flash mob frequently happens and change is needed. Residents have also complained about the car “slide shows” (burnouts, doughnuts) at the same intersection. "This intersection goes down 2 to 3 nights a week. We hear the motors roaring, if you’re close by, you probably can’t breathe after they got going," said Compton resident Ricky Finley.

Car slideshows—while increasingly popular in South LA–have been viewed in a more negative light lately because of the damage it has caused. There have been several high-profile fatal car accidents over the years due to drag racing and people doing burnouts and other tricks with their cars. In 2021 two men and a 14-year-old boy were killed after a Toyota, driven by a 20-year-old at an unsafe speed going eastbound on Florence Avenue, lost control of his car and crashed into a jeep, which then hit the vehicle occupied by the deceased.

There were reports of two street takeovers that involved illegal street racing that included over 500 people. The takeovers took place on the intersections of Long Beach Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue, and both ended with break-ins and vandalism, including a break-in at a laundromat.

Also, on Thursday, April 27, a woman in Pomona was killed in a possible street racing crash that happened on Holt Avenue near Lorraine Avenue, where two cars were racing each other around 11:50 p.m. right before the crash. The woman who died was a passenger in one of the racing vehicles, police said, noting that that information had not been confirmed at the presstime.

Law enforcement is having trouble stopping or controlling street takeovers because of the sheer number of people involved and the lack of police officers to enforce any authority once at the scene.

"That’s our number one problem is not having the personnel, the units to respond to street takeovers. If we have those personnel respond to just street takeovers there’s no one else left," said Sheriff’s Deputy Miguel Meza.  "We’re going to partner with CHP and LAPD to help us conduct several operations in Compton and other areas to avoid these street takeovers from occurring.”