NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Times Square is supposed to be a safe place, but drivers have been turning the Crossroads of the World into their own personal racetrack, potentially putting other drivers and pedestrians in danger.
Video from over the weekend shows drivers revving their engines, as though on a starting line, at 46th Street and Seventh Avenue. A few seconds later, after several cars speed by, an NYPD van blocks the lanes. The driver of a black car is pulled out and handcuffed.
“I swear on my life it’s in the car… my license!” he can be heard shouting.
A man, who goes by the name Freesmoke 100, is part of the Vengeance Auto Club that organizes the meetups, called burnouts or smoke shows – named for burning out tires until they start to smoke.
“Usually the cops, they don’t bother us, they’ll just let us go. Or if they do, they’ll stop us and give us tickets,” he told CBS2’s Valerie Castro. “It gives us a sense of freedom to just be able to express ourselves in this way. It’s a form of expression.”
He said crowds like those in Times Square follow them on social media to see the shows.
“In Times Square, especially, we’re going straight, we’re not doing doughnuts in the middle of the street, we’re not doing it when someone’s crossing the street,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe it puts anyone in danger.
In January, two men from a Bronx car club were arrested after a stunt. An officer tried to pull over their black Mercedes for driving recklessly in Times Square. Instead, the car took off, hitting the officer.
Freesmoke 100 said those men were not affiliated with the Vengeance Auto Club and said his members take the tickets as part of the ride.
“We don’t condone what happened in January,” he said. “If they stop us or they come up to us, we’ll pull over, we’ll take our tickets and we’ll go.”
As for the man handcuffed in the video, CBS2 was told he was given a ticket for reckless driving and let go.
The NYPD said it is aware of the videos and looking into the matter.