Send in the clowns: Calling the San Francisco police
The news out of San Francisco after the Giants’ 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in the seventh game of the 2014 World Series illustrates how quickly the city can devolve into mob violence.
The “expected” havoc was characterized by two shootings, two stabbings, drunken bedlam, bottle throwing, spinning cars, excessive vandalism, and bonfires burning out of control in the Mission. The mayhem compelled San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr to shake his head and ironically intone, “It makes us look bad and it’s a shame.”
Other pundits followed up his remark with the gratuitous claim that “at least” the damage would cost San Franciscans much less that the epic aftermaths of the 2010 and 2012 Giants’ wins, a shady justification that left many equally cold. Most were as helpless to describe the city’s lapse into anarchy as A-1 rapper, Adam Traore, who tried.
His two-act video, Doing the Most/Carry the Ghost, filmed against the stark violence of the October 29 post game melee is a disturbing testament to the split personality that divides the city. It is a frightening reminder of the disconnect between celebration and violence that occurs in San Francisco regularly. Critics might have described the artist’s work as futuristic and surreal had the footage not been shot live.
Are taxpayers really so lucky to be stuck only with a $140k bill for damage to 28 Muni buses this time? Are residents so fortunate that this year’s felony riots were more cost efficient, compared to the million dollar tabs past rioters have submitted to the hostage city government?
Surely those who swept up glass shards or removed graffiti tags were unimpressed with the standard admonishment delivered by police Chief Greg Suhr who predictably recited, “To the clowns that came to San Francisco to act out, I guess you just don’t know what it’s like to have a good time without being a jerk — and we had a lot of them.”
“Clowns” and “jerks”? Those who “came to San Francisco to act out”? Are you kidding?
Even as photo and video evidence of the chaos was flashed from virtually every major news source in the world, including Newsweek — with clear pictures of many offenders that simply beggared arrests — the highest paid police chief in America stood up to castigate the lawbreakers. He called them “clowns” and “jerks.” Wow, take that!
The so-called “clowns” were not out to protest any cause and had been guided by no higher purpose other than committing property damage for fun. Because they could. With impunity. Of the 30 to 40 token arrests made, 29 were for public intoxication. And what about the people jumping up and down on a Muni bus? Or parked cars? Or the shooting victim who had to make it to the hospital by himself?
The violence is not about the fans who could not control themselves. It is about the San Francisco police who could not — or would not — control the fans.
Even if Greg Suhr’s ridiculous estimate that “only 100” of the revelers were “disgraceful” (the rest having been “spectacular” in his estimation) why were so few arrests made that night? And why on earth are offenders in San Francisco always from out of town as “half” supposedly were, according to him?
The SFPD’s go-to excuse that felons are always from out of town is what is disgraceful! It mirrors exactly the same kind of comments I read about my son Dylan Yount’s 2010 death in San Francisco on Mardi Gras Tuesday when “tourists” were blamed for provoking the suicide baiting that claimed his young life at the Forever 21 building in Hallidie Plaza.
The SFPD had no interest — or ability — in dispersing that crowd or arresting any of those “revelers” that day either. They outlined the jump zone for my confused and ambivalent son and joined the barbarity, never lifting an official finger to stop the violence. Ultimately, it took 24 SFPD officers that day to regain control over the suicide baiting crowd they had allowed to devolve into a mob. Of the 237 witnesses I have so far identified from February 16, 2010 (no thanks to the SFPD) only five have been from “out of town.”
The truth is the SFPD is routinely happy to toady up to any San Francisco crowd if it means less work for them. They are content in their roles as observers on the fringe of any mob violence, unwilling to risk their ultimate pie in the sky — their future lucrative retirement pensions. Officers show up to blend in until their work shifts time out.
The SFPD is an affront to good police everywhere. Many SFPD officers are cowards, solidly backed by city insurance guarantors with deep pockets. The SFPD regularly hides behind a cadre of city lawyers paid expressly to defend them unequivocally. The SFPD seldom has to defend its actions, almost never in court. I have tried to hold them accountable for almost five years with no luck so far.
How it could possibly be cost effective to pay for riot damages — or police misconduct settlements — over demanding accountability and better training for city police in crowd control management and de-escalation techniques is beyond the understanding of most of us. The late October “festivities” left many reeling in disbelief.
Jumping through bonfires to chants of “burn it” (this time for couches and mattresses) is more Lord of the Flies than pranking with toilet paper. What is a shame is that San Francisco keeps ignoring the signal fires its citizens are sending. These fires are not just backdrops for hundreds of selfies taken in post game frenzy. The fires signal the empty rule of order in the city, the steady decent into disrespect and anarchy the SFPD has allowed.
After the final pop-fly, the only clowns out on the streets of San Francisco were the police, either unable or unwilling to keep even 12 of their own police cars from being vandalized. After the Special Investigations Division put out a plea for anonymous tips, the SFPD will count on no one calling in. That is how they plan to cruise through their next shifts.