PHOENIX — It's a risk some are willing to take. 'Street Takeovers' have become a phenomenon across the Valley. Hundreds of spectators gather to watch drivers drift and perform dangerous maneuvers.
Now, the tricks are escalating.
One Instagram page posted videos of spectators shooting fireworks off, as drivers burn out on 27th Avenue and Indian School Road, just before the new year. Another video shows a fire burning near spectators, and another shows street racers on I-17, lighting off fireworks as they sped down the freeway.
“It’s all consensual... everyone knows the risks," one anonymous spectator told ABC15. "Police have been cracking down more and more... but they’re not that harmful. Sure, we stop traffic but that’s really it. There are people out there shooting each other, doing drug deals and stuff like that and we’re just here spinning around in an intersection.”
Phoenix Police have not elaborated on how they're working to keep up with these meet-ups, only telling ABC15 they're conducting "enforcement."
Several social media videos show officers detaining dozens of people on a sidewalk, while others show officers trying to break up drifters with patrol cars, and helicopters flying overhead.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association spoke out against the department's efforts to combat these groups Thursday on Facebook:
One organizer told ABC15 these "takeovers" used to happen solely in parking lots of warehouses, but after police issued several trespassing tickets, they chose to move the operation onto public roads.
“I know it’s dangerous, but it’s just a lifestyle. It’s what we love to do," said the organizer, who runs the Instagram account AZSundayFunday. "Every time we get to a location, we always make sure to tell everybody to pay attention and keep their eyes on the cars, because anything could happen.”
The organizers say several people have been hurt at meet-ups, and say some victims have chosen to press charges against drivers.
“If you don’t want to have the risk of being hit by a car you don’t walk up into the front or into the center," added a spectator. "If you don’t want to fall out of the bed you simply don’t get in, if you don’t want to ruin your car or anything like that, you don’t drift.”