Laser Pointers Add Dangerous New Twist to Sideshows

A dangerous illegal sideshow in Oakland last weekend involved a serious side hazard when law enforcement responded to the scene: spectators directing laser pointers at vehicles and aircraft.

On Saturday night, a California Highway Patrol helicopter was assisting Oakland police at the scene of a sideshow involving multiple vehicles and dozens of spectators. Upon their arrival, the CHP air crew saw one of the spectators repeatedly shining a green laser pointer at the participating vehicles as well as their helicopter.

It's a new trend police now must contend with when responding to the already dangerous sideshows.

"A laser will cause partial blindness, can cause a vehicle to go out of control so the driver can’t see," the CHP said. "At the recent sideshow, there were more people who had them. It’s interfering with the aircraft. It’s actually a federal crime."

All of the activity was captured on the CHP's aerial video, and officials said the person with the laser pointer could face numerous state and federal charges for shining it at an aircraft.

Oakland police said Monday there were a total of five arrests, 11 tows and 39 citations at illegal sideshows in the city over the weekend.

It was not clear if the person with the laser pointer was among those arrested.

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