Police allow the illegal Sunday night event to continue because the crowd was so large.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN/MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND - Sunday night street racing in Northeast Portland.A street racing event blocked the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Columbia boulevards in Northeast Portland for three hours late Sunday, Aug. 1.

Video from freelance photojournalist Mathieu Lewis-Rolland showed drivers spinning in the middle of the intersection, and the Portland Police Bureau said it received reports of fireworks being discharged.

Police said the illegal gathering started shortly after 9 p.m. The street races shut off access to motorists, businesses and apartments in the area until about midnight.

Police did not respond but said they were prepared to go in if there were specific threats to life. The crowd was so large, police said, that officers and medical personnel did not enter the area. Officers prioritized life-threatening calls, the bureau said.

Police have been facing this problem for years and there have been several traffic deaths and fatal shootings connected to these illegal street races.

"It can be very frustrating and overwhelming. It evolves very quickly," said Portland police Sgt. John Holbrook. "When you pull up on a scene and there are several hundred people and you are the only ones there? That can be a scary situation."

There was one reported collision during the Sunday gathering but no reported injuries.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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