SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez is calling on city leaders to repeal a decades-old ordinance prohibiting cruising.

The ordinance turned the slow driving and display of cars made famous by the Chicano civil rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s into a crime. In the early 1990s many cities, including San Jose, instituted local ordinances to prohibit cruising. The vehicles became a display of resistance against discrimination to preserve the culture, values, religion, and history of the Mexican-American culture in San Jose, and cruising became a part of this resistance.

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“Over the years, I was stopped several dozen times by police, and nearly every time I was made to sit on a curb while my car was searched and I was questioned about presumed gang involvement,” Councilmember Peralez said in a memo to the city council. “At the time, I was unaware of my right to refuse a search, thus I frustratingly sat through this every time.”

Last week, Peralez’s proposal was unanimously approved by the City Council Rules and Open Government Committee. Peralez introduced the proposal at a press conference in front of the recently unveiled “Leyendas de San Jose” mural, where he was joined by members of the United Lowrider Council of San José, Timeless Art Collective, and the East Side Riders, as well as neighborhood leaders and other community partners in support of safer streets and more equitable approaches to public safety.

San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez posing for a photo with his 1965 Impala Super Sport. Courtesy: Raul Peralez.

“The prohibition on cruising has served as a tool to perpetuate and give legal credibility to racial discrimination,” said Peralez, who recalled cruising the streets of San Jose in his 1965 Impala as a teenager in the 1990s. “Over the years, I was stopped several dozen times by police and made to sit on a curb while my car was searched and I was questioned about presumed gang involvement… It is time to repeal this discriminatory and antiquated policy.”

Peralez notes that as cruising has diminished over the following decades — crime and gang violence persisted and other more dangerous and significant traffic-related violations have risen. To date, there has been no recent record of the San Jos Police Department issuing warnings, citations, or fines under the cruising prohibition municipal code.

“San José is known for lowriding. Lowrider Magazine was born here, Streetlow Magazine, I could go down the list of photographers who have put San José on the map for lowriding,” said David Polanco, president of the United Lowrider Council of San José. “I want to be able to put my granddaughter, my mother in the back of my car and cruise and continue the culture without having to explain the No Cruising sign.”