“I don’t want this to be our city” | Residents, business owners demand change after weekend street racing

BATON ROUGE — From downtown to Mid City and several neighborhoods in between, groups gathering for burn outs continues to be a problem across Baton Rouge.

Over the Easter weekend, the problem appeared to have escalated with several instances reported across the city. EMS reports they received more than 50 calls for burnouts and street racing.

Business leaders and residents flooded the Unfiltered with Kiran tip line and inbox with complaints over the reckless drivers. Things got so bad that a Baton Rouge Police Department patrol car was damaged while responding to the wild night of racing.

A Baton Rouge EMS unit was even blocked from responding to an emergency call over the weekend, according to sources. In that instance, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies were reportedly called in to assist with the EMS unit while a second ambulance was dispatched to the original emergency call.

“We need to wage war back”

Video from over the weekend shows cars spinning out and blocking busy intersections with hundreds of bystanders watching.

UWK spoke with one resident who asked to remain anonymous. They have called BRPD dozens of times, fired off more than a dozen emails to city leaders and are now at a breaking point.

“These thugs know they can do whatever the hell they want because the police can’t do anything,” the resident said. “They’ll just tear up the police cars like they did this weekend.”

She says that Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul responded to one of her emails and police officers have come to her house, but she is now frustrated with the lack of solutions from not only police, but city leaders as well. She has sent dozens of emails to the mayor and city councilmembers over the street racing.

“I’m tired of the excuse that we don’t have enough manpower. If you don’t have enough, then you need to call in someone who can help us. If they’re going to wage war on Baton Rouge, then we need to wage war back.”

“There’s no penalty or consequences”

Last year the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council increased the penalties for street racing and stunts. Fines were increased to $1,000 with a 10 to 90 day jail sentence for each offense. The penalties also included suspended licenses and impounded vehicles.

But in the months since, many feel that it has done little to nothing to deter these drivers on the streets.

The resident we spoke with say that when the city started enacting the stricter fines and penalties, things quieted down for a few weeks. But in the last month, she feels it has intensified and reached a fever pitch over the weekend.

“There’s no penalty or consequences for any of this horrible behavior,” the resident said. “It’s happening right in front of BRPD headquarters and they can’t do anything to stop it.”

She says that Sunday, helicopters were flying over her neighborhood. She believes they were police helicopters trying to get a handle on the situation.

“We have all this technology and cameras that can watch everything going on in the city…do they have blinders on and can’t see them?”

“I’m so f-ing mad”

Jim Urdiales, the owner of Mestizo Louisiana Mexican Cuisine, posted a nearly two minute profanity-laced tirade on Facebook early Sunday morning.

“I’m f-ing pissed,” he said. “I’ve experienced this too many freaking times in Baton Rouge where these people come out and put their freaking cars and destroy our city. I’m so f-ing mad.”

Urdiales apologized several times for the language he was using in the video, but says that it’s time that Baton Rouge demands change.

“I hate that I had to call the mayor myself, but when are we going to start making a change and saying this is not acceptable? I’m tired of lose the city of Baton Rouge … I don’t want this to be our city anymore. Demand change in our freaking city.”

Besides owning Mestizo, Urdiales was born and raised in Baton Rouge.

Warning: Video contains profanity

What’s being done?

East Baton Rouge metro councilman Rowdy Gaudet (district 3) responded to an email from the resident who spoke with UWK about the weekend incidents.

He told her that he was working to connect with BRPD about what happened. He went on to say that there have been fewer instances since higher fines were implemented.

UWK reached out to Gaudet, but he was unable to do an interview.

EDITOR’S NOTE: BRPD does not work with UWK and does not respond to any emails or questions regarding cases. It’s why BRPD does not have a response in this report.

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