Homeland Security Now Combating Street Takeovers

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Homeland Security was reportedly involved in stopping a street takeover in Conroe, Texas, after a prior event became violent when the police arrived. The takeover occurred in the wake of the Lone Star Throwdown, a truck-focused automotive meetup, with organizers complaining about the trend in the aftermath.

According to The Drive, news about the takeover started circulating even before the Lone Star Throwdown had concluded. A subset of attendees were planning to block off a stretch of road as people were leaving on February 25th and the organizers were worried that it would reflect badly on them. There were rumors that the contract for next year's show was at risk of being canceled as a result of bad actors. Noticing vendors from the show were complaining via social media, the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management arranged a meeting with promoters for March 6th.

From The Drive:

In the meantime, support for the show poured in from everywhere. Vendors and longtime fans of LST petitioned law enforcement to allow the 2025 show to go on as planned, giving specific details of how the event isn't the problem—the people involved in the takeover are. A podcast interview with showrunners Lonnie Ford, Todd Hendrex, and Jarrod Dunahoo was posted live early this week, discussing the situation.
"Nothing happened at the event," Hendrex said on the C10 Talk Podcast. "The event went smoothly. To sit here and say we had almost 30,000 spectators, that is crazy.
"We grow with the show and make changes as we go along. Nothing happened at the event," Hendrex continued. "The things that are out of our control, that are having our contract pulled from us is the after-meet, the after-parties, the takeovers — whatever you want to call them. I'm not saying it's wrong to go meet in the parking lot; we've all done it our whole life. But the body cam footage I was able to see from some of these officers made me mad."
The footage Hendrex is talking about allegedly shows people stealing mobility karts from a local Kroger, putting their hands on officers, and serious property destruction. Burnouts carried on past the pavement and through the businesses' landscaping, obliterating more grass and greenery than black tire rubber. There were also people urinating on patrol units and attempting to free an individual who was in custody from the back of the cop car.

One could argue that street takeovers and illicit behavior have long been an essential part of automotive culture throughout history. Drifting never would have become popular had Japanese fans not bothered to block access to ensure drivers could make clean attempts on public roads. American drag racing was likewise limited to the streets until someone realized there was money to be made in building private strips. But modern street takeovers are typically defined by pure spectacle and unbridled stupidity.

They can go beyond your typical automotive hooliganism by blocking off busy intersections in the middle of cities so attendees can perform donuts and burnouts. These are hardly structured events and often devolve into large numbers of people showing while violent confrontations between commuters and individuals trying to block the road take place in the background. Stunts may also incorporate people riding atop moving vehicles or seeing how close they can get to the action to take video. But these aren’t structured events even in the most abstract sense, with there being a surplus of video evidence showcasing serious injuries and vehicle collisions.

Worse still, things can continue to decline when police arrive. Drivers often attempt to flee and crowds sometimes attack squad cars until officers decide to retreat. Both have resulted in large numbers of people being struck by vehicles, including police cars, sometimes fatally.

Despite originally being a counterterrorism agency formed in the panic following the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001, Homeland Security has become a catch-all federal policing agency. These days it’s stated purpose “covers everything from counterterrorism to the Nation's maritime and border security, from protection of our national leaders to coordinating the federal government's response to natural disasters.”

While it’s inarguable that there have been street takeovers so egregious that they likely necessitated aggressive policing, the general response from authorities has been to pursue a zero tolerance policy. Lesser events set further away from the public are being treated with the same level of scrutiny as the worst examples. Now we have federal agencies getting involved.

Lone Star Throwdown reported a productive meeting with local Homeland Security agents and said they were able to secure their contract for 2025. However, the agreement came with the caveat that there will be absolutely no tolerance for hooliganism or illegal activities. It’s assumed there will be a heavier than usual police presence to ensure that remains the case.

Frankly the LST takeover was a middling example based off the available video evidence. It's probably not something you'd want to see a lot of in your own neighborhood and there was some isolated violence. But the automotive carnage (mostly burnouts) was primarily limited to nearby parking lot and the situation never saw the kind of mass insanity that one normally thinks of when they hear the term "street takeover."

"I get that the outside community, when they look at it as a whole, [they believe] they're there because of us, which I get. But they're not," Hendrex said. "When I scoured through all of the videos, we only found three to four who had [event] registrations that were doing stupid stuff."

Navigating this aspect of car culture is going to be a difficult tightrope for everyone to walk. Event organizers and vendors need to look like they’re not throwing their customers under the bus while also appeasing local communities that are likely to look down on them. Meanwhile, the police need to find some way of preventing the worst kind of street takeovers without taking a scattershot approach that ropes in every person that squeals their tires. Automotive enthusiasts already have a contentious relationship with the police and the cops are going to need their help to discourage bad actors if there’s any chance of reducing the severity of takeover culture.

[Image: Eli Glover/YouTube]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 27 comments
  • Mike Bradley Mike Bradley on Mar 09, 2024

    The people living and working near a takeover don't have "fun." Frequent sale and installation of tires should be penalized by loss of license and registration. Some places buy and scrap old cars; police could store them instead to block the streets around a takeover. Rewards for photos of cars participating in takeovers. Drone photos of cars. SWAT teams seize cars, not regular police.

    • Jeff Jeff on Mar 10, 2024

      Agree people living and working near a takeover are not the ones having fun but they are the ones paying the taxes and having to put up with takeovers. Seems some on this site think this is acceptable but then they either don't live in an area that is being taken over or they are the ones doing the takeover. Probably the threat to take the cars involved and crush them would be enough to discourage many from participating especially after a few cars have been crushed. Maybe post a video of the vehicles confiscated and show them being crushed that would be a deterrent for many. Racing on an isolated road is one thing but taking over a main road and racing on a main road with traffic is another thing and should not be allowed. This is not Mad Max.

      If this is a peaceful blocking of a road for an event with permission of the local authorities and notifying those that live and work in the area then that is different. If that were the situation then local law enforcement should be present to make sure there is no threat or illegal activities. The alleged "take over" covered in this article appears to have started as a show with vendors with the intention of not breaking any laws but it got out of hand with theft and property damage. The only way I could see this event would be allowed to happen in the future would be to guarantee security to control those who get out of hand and break laws. Also rent some port o potties to make sure people don't do their business where they shouldn't.

  • MrIcky MrIcky on Mar 11, 2024

    The never ending cycle: Street Racing> Build or Open up a racetrack and invite people to do it legally> New Housing development says venue too loud and closes it> Street Racing.

    Just got my camping sorted for watching the Sun Valley Tour de Force. Rich people do it right. July 18-20, 2024

  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."
  • Jeff Does this really surprise anyone? How about the shoes and the clothes you wear. Anything you can think of that is either directly made in China or has components made in China likely has some slave labor involved. The very smart phone, tablet, and laptop you are using probably has some component in it that is either mined or made by slave labor. Not endorsing slave labor just trying to be real.
  • Jeff Self-driving is still a far ways from being perfected. I would say at the present time if my car took over if I had a bad day I would have a much worse day. Would be better to get an Uber
  • 2manyvettes Time for me to take my 79 Corvette coupe out of the garage and drive if to foil the forces of evil. As long as I can get the 8 track player working...