By Emilie St. John
COMPTON — City officials continue to express their frustrations over street takeovers — and a recent incident that evolved into looting — at the April 18 City Council meeting.
Mayor Emma Shariff read a statement at the top of the meeting providing an official statement on the matter.
“The city of Compton condemns the street takeovers that have plagued our community for far too long and in the past most of the participants have not been from our city but come here to take part in these takeovers and other senseless crimes,” Sharif said. “We are working closely with the Compton Sheriff’s Station to find the perpetrators.”
Shariff discussed installing more raised bumps at certain intersections, even though they have proven to be unsuccessful after the first round were installed.
“We remain committed to working with the Sheriff’s Department, local businesses and the community to deter acts like these,” Sharif added.
Capt. Terrance Bell, with the Compton Sheriff’s Station, appeared before the council to explain how deputies responded to the viral video of street takeovers and looting that occurred April 16.
“Compton deputies responded to numerous illegal takeovers the morning of April 16 and include hundreds of participants at the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue, Central Avenue and Alondra Boulevard, Central and Rosecrans avenues, and numerous others, and while responding to these incidents we also received calls for burglaries,” Bell said.
“The participants move from intersection to intersection and moved to a gas station that was looted,” he added.
Surveillance footage captured an Arco gas station near Alondra Boulevard and Central Avenue being looted of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise by a mob of people, all while the store clerk hid inside a bathroom, ABC7 reported.
“It’s unbelievable. Unreal. I’ve never seen anything like that happen here,” Greg Johnson, a Compton resident who frequents the Arco gas station, told the station.
“This intersection, this goes down two to three nights a week. We hear the motors roaring, if you’re close by you probably can’t breathe after they got going,” said Ricky Finley, a resident of Compton.
The sheriff’s department’s approach is to increase patrols throughout the area, particularly over the weekend.
“We are not going to tolerate any more street takeovers and not tolerate the looting,” Bell said.
One person was briefly detained over the weekend, but sheriff’s officials said no arrests have been made.
Compton City Councilman Jonathan Bowers told Channel 7 he believes people from outside of Compton were responsible for the crime wave, but he said the city needs to take action to prevent repeat offenses.
“I am totally disgusted,” Bowers told ABC7. “I’m just upside down behind this. These kids are coming in our city and just destroying it like this.
“In my opinion, the city has not done enough to quell this issue. There are other alternatives and ways to deal with this, and I feel like we put it on the back burner and we’re dragging our feet as this thing is getting worse.”
Councilman Andre Spicer asked if there is anything that citizens can do to help the Sheriff’s Department address the issue.
“Social media is where a lot of this is occurring and how these participants and spectators are gathering so please don’t hesitate to contact the department at (310) 605-6500 and explain there’s a street takeover occurring,” Bell said.
In the city of Inglewood, officials there work with the California Highway Patrol to address takeovers, which also includes citing spectators for their participation.
Sheriff Robert Luna has made no contact with Compton elected officials on the issue, according to a current Compton elected official who requested anonymity.
“Where is the leadership of Sheriff Luna in addressing the ongoing issues in Compton,” said the official. “He campaigned on a platform of transparency and having the experience to do the job which so far remains to be seen.”
Deputies at the Compton Sheriff’s Station attribute some of the issues with the street takeovers are due to being outnumbered due to the lack of staff.
“That’s our number one problem is not having the personnel, the units to respond to street takeovers,” Deputy Miguel Meza said. “If we have those personnel respond to just street takeovers there’s no one else left.
“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.”
Sheriff’s officials asked anyone with information to call the Compton station at 310-605-6500. Anonymous tips can be made through Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
City News Service contributed to this report.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.