Jacksonville mayor addresses auto club rallies in the city

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – The mayor of Jacksonville speaks out for the first time on groups of cars and motorcyclists invading city streets and intersections.

It comes after the I-TEAM showed you video of a large group of drivers taking over one of Jacksonville’s busiest intersections this weekend – San Jose Boulevard and Baymeadows Road. News4JAX also received a report of a large group of drivers collapsing in the Ikea parking lot on the south side and causing extensive damage. When our cameras stopped on Monday afternoon, we noticed crews repainting the parking strips that had been damaged.

“No, we don’t agree to live with it. What we need people to do is we need people to report it so we can get the police out there and prevent this from happening,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said.

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AFTER: Florida lawmakers crack down on parking lot takeovers and street racing | I-TEAM: Instagram video shows ambulance making donuts in parking lot | Legit and Legal Auto Clubs Call Out Illegal Racing and Donuts | Video shows meeting with car club in same area where 17-year-old was shot dead | 2 street racing accidents in 2 weeks | Residents of Empire Point, Englewood and St. Nicholas said their area turns into a running track over the weekend

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After News4JAX I-TEAM obtained video of what happened in San Jose and Baymeadows, we received many complaints from drivers in the city. A chilling email was sent to the I-TEAM reading — I was stuck in this traffic last night/this morning. It was truly terrifying. I called JSO because for a while I was scared for my life. Tons of cars pull up and block the roads, people drag out of cars while others drive, more people come out with ski masks on and then you hear what sounds like gunfire. You couldn’t turn around to leave, you couldn’t move anywhere. You are trapped. Something has to be done about this. Imagine being a woman alone in her car at night trying to get home and you can’t. Afraid to call the cops because these kids are so crazy about wearing masks and you don’t want to get hurt. I dimmed all my cars inside lights and my phone to call the cops. I was so afraid someone would see it. There were easily 30-40 people running down the street hitting the cars.

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This is all happening just months after the state legislature passed HB 399 which would increase penalties for people who participate in this activity. It has yet to be signed by the Governor, but if so, it would come into effect at the end of this year. It would also increase penalties for passengers in these cars, including a suspension of driving privileges. The legislation also targets people who videotape these activities for the purpose of posting them on social media.

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Sara H. Byrd