A Los Angeles neighborhood featured in the “Fast and Furious” movies held protests against the filming of the franchise’s latest installment Friday, claiming the community has been blighted by a spate of illegal and dangerous street racing.
Residents voiced anger at this weekend’s planned taping of “Fast X” in Angelino Heights, a historic area near downtown Los Angeles which is home to Vin Diesel’s fictional character Dominic Toretto in the wildly popular, long-running film series.
The movies depict the underground world of street racing, helping to popularize practices such as “street takeovers” in which crowds gather — usually at night — to watch cars rev their engines and screech at high speeds around city streets.
Damian Kevitt, a local resident and founder of Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE), said the Hollywood film series “glorifies an illegal activity” and as a result Angelino Heights had become “a tourist destination for illegal street racing.”
“Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights, there’ll be three, four, five, six cars coming through here, doing burnouts, doing donuts,” said Kevitt.
“There was not street racing in this community before ‘Fast and Furious’ was filmed here,” he added.
Bella, another resident who declined to give her last name, said her children were traumatized from being constantly awoken by the sound of cars outside her home at night, and were now too scared to play outside the house.
“They’ve seen when the car spins out of control and practically hits the pedestrian that’s standing right on the corner,” she said.
Los Angeles has seen a 30 percent increase in fatalities and a 21 percent increase in serious injuries due to traffic violence over the last year, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bella called for Universal Pictures to move future filming elsewhere, while SAFE has asked the city to install speed humps and implement a zero-tolerance policy on street racing.
The group has also asked Universal to add a disclaimer to the “Fast and Furious” movies discouraging street racing.
The studio did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
The first installment, “The Fast and the Furious,” was released by Universal Pictures in 2001, and the franchise has become the eighth-highest grossing film series in history, taking over $6.6 billion worldwide across ten movies.
“Fast X” is due to be released next May. — Agence France-Presse