Almost 600 people arrested for street takeovers in LA as residents protest ‘Fast & Furious’ filming

Almost 600 people have been arrested for street takeovers in Los Angeles so far this year, while residents protest the filming of the 10th Fast & Furious film as it faces allegations that it encourages street racing.

Police have recorded 667 street takeovers, issued over 2,000 citations and seized 439 vehicles in 2022, figures from the LAPD and California Highway Patrol reveal.

When the first film in the franchise was released more than two decades ago, the Angelino Heights neighbourhood of LA became a tourist spot. The films have made the area known for having Bob’s Market, which is owned by the family of the character Dominic Toretto, who also lives in the area. The character is portrayed by Vin Diesel.

The founder of the Streets Are for Everyone nonprofit, Damian Kevitt, told the LA Times that the area has “become a tourist destination for street racing”.

“The issue is the screeching, the smell of rubber, and the danger to the cars and the pedestrians in the area when street racers regularly come and do burnouts in the community,” he said.

Another nonprofit, FilmLA, is in charge of the film permits in the city. They sent a message to area residents that Fast X, the 10th film, will be filming in the neighbourhood between 9am on Friday and 2am on Saturday.

Residents reacted by collaborating with Streets Are for Everyone and Street Racing Kills, a road safety group, to orchestrate a protest for Friday between 10am and 12pm close to Bob’s Market where the filming is set to take place.

Mr Kevitt said that a media event will be held at 11am and the protest will restart at 5pm.

Data from the LAPD shows that deaths connected to street racing went up during the pandemic – about 300 people died in collisions last year, a 21 per cent increase compared to 2020. Around 1,500 faced severe injuries, which was an increase of 30 per cent compared to 2020.

Residents want the city and the state of California to put in place a zero-tolerance policy for street racing, and for NBCUniversal to take responsibility.

“We’re asking them to live up to their own social responsibility statements and stop doing things to glorify street racing and taking no responsibility,” Mr Kevitt told the LA Times. “If they want to make a profit off of it, then they need to invest money back into helping the communities that this is impacting.”

Street Racing Kills founder Lili Trujillo Puckett lost her daughter Valentina, 16, in 2013. She was sleeping in the back of a car when the person behind the wheel chose to take part in a street race with Valentina being the only one killed in the subsequent accident.

Ms Trujillo Puckett noted that a car crashed into a mural in honour of her daughter within two months of its creation.

“Instead of the problem getting smaller, I got bigger as an organisation by myself with no funding,” she told the LA Times. “The Fast & Furious franchise has so much power to help us save lives. We want to make sure that they at least take ownership and help us nonprofits that are out there.”

She called on NBCUniversal to “do something to help us save lives. That’s all we want”.

“Add some kind of messaging in the movie and make it in honor of my daughter, Valentina, and all the others who have passed away to street racing and to these takeovers,” she said.

The Independent has attempted to reach NBCUniversal and Universal Pictures for comment.

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