The “NFL Experience By Huyndai” has put our Yerba Buena Neighborhood in a virtual SFPD military-style lockdown since last weekend. It will continue to Game Day this coming Sunday.

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This is the football fan show that the NFL sets up for each year’s Superbowl at a host city’s convention center. It’s $35 for adults and $25 for kids. We are used to comparable-scale events at Moscone Center, like the annual Auto Show over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the Oracle World and Dream Force mega-conventions that each close Howard Street for a week every Fall. And we go through several low-key security lockdowns of Howard Street every year when Obama comes to town for a fundraiser and stays at the Intercontinental Hotel.

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But this NFL Experience is nothing like those events (which, except for the president, reimburse the full costs of all the extra city police and traffic control officers they need, which the NFL is not doing). Instead it is totally over-the-top:

  • Three SFPD officers with automatic weapons slung across their shoulders are posted at the Third and Fourth Streets Howard Street intersections all day.
  • At least two-dozen more SFPD patrolmen are posted around the area all day.
  • SFPD motorcycles and police cars are parked as barriers at the Third and Fourth Street Howard Street entrances to the Expo.
  • SFPD observation posts are located on the roofs of adjacent buildings.
  • The SFPD Bomb Squad truck was parked on Folsom Street behind Moscone Center. So was the Communication Van. Bomb-sniffing dogs checked trucks going down the Moscone truck ramp.
  • A PG&E Incident Command Post trailer is parked on an alley off Folsom Street along with several PG&E emergency service trucks.
  • Dozens of private security people in yellow jackets make sure nobody can get into any off-limits zone without “credentials”.
  • FBI agents are reportedly in the area at least some of the time.
  • And unlike every other big Moscone Center event, the Howard Street sidewalks are totally closed to the public, forcing the hundreds of seniors living in four senior residences on the adjacent block between Fourth and Fifth Streets to detour around Mission Street to get to the Muni stops on Third Street going to Chinatown. And this during the weekend before Chinese New Year’s on Monday – the busiest shopping weekend of the year (like the days before Christmas for most of us)!

It certainly feels like Occupied San Francisco around here, but not the progressive kind.

This uber-security is being justified as necessary in case, “god forbid,” some crazed gunman or home-grown terrorist might want to dramatically attack the public and event-goers during Super Bowl week.

But that is plainly baloney. Such an attack could just as easily be launched at another high-profile location in the city, like Hallidie Plaza or Fishermen’s Wharf, which have few or no SFPD patrols right now since all SFPD person-power is focused on Moscone Center and the Super Bowl City at the foot of Market Street. That would be a just-as-spectacular national news story.

 

No, what this extreme Yerba Buena lockdown security is all about is instead protecting the NFL Brand, not the people of San Francisco.

And just who is the “NFL”? With the exceptions of the city-owned Green Bay Packers and one rich widow, it’s a Billionaires Boys Club, all 1 percenters. (Here’s how the owners of all 32 NFL teams made their money.)

Not content with extorting cities of $Billions to build rarely-used football stadiums and manipulating Congress to keep their anti-trust exemption and lucrative tax breaks, the NFL owners are determined that nothing will besmirch their club’s image. And so they project their own fears of a violent attack on America’s bloated 1 percent elite, including themselves, upon their private fan show at Moscone Center. Unlike the locally-sponsored Super Bowl City, the NFL Experience at Moscone is totally controlled by them. So the NFL dictated this bizarre security lockdown to City Hall, and they got it.

San Francisco has never seen anything like this. And that includes the 1984 Democratic National Convention at Moscone Center, when security in this neighborhood was certainly thorough and comprehensive but not so obviously paranoid.

 

This isn’t a one-off, folks. This is the future of America. Fear-driven militarization of civilian law enforcement everywhere (including always-shoot-to-kill training, as if every inner-city neighborhood is Baghdad), all in the name of “security” to protect us from “whatever might happen.” But actually to protect the elite and suppress the unwanted – whoever they may be.

FDR knew “We have nothing to fear – but fear itself!” But in America today, 15 years after our nation’s craven response to 9/11, fear is winning. Even right now in San Francisco, on Howard Street.

  • Bob

    I am not clear. Is it the NFL/City that is paranoid, or is it the author of this article. From the article, it appears to be the author.

    • Greg

      Yeah, agreed. The reality is that downtown has been safer, cleaner and more relaxed (at least for anyone not intending harm or crime) recently than I have ever known it.

      Times Square in NYC was never successfully cleaned up until a zero-tolerance “broken windows” approach to policing was taken,

      The real “danger” here is surely that hard-working, law-abiding, decent people will now expect this quality of life and safety all the time. And that really would be a wonderful legacy of SB50.

      • Greg

        You’re kidding, right? It feels like martial law has been declared.

        • Greg

          I do not feel threatened by an elevated LE presence. I feel safer and more comfortable.

          Then again, if I had something to hide or was intending harm or crime, I might feel differently.

          • Greg

            As Ben Franklin said, he who would sacrifice his freedom for security, deserves neither.

          • Greg

            Ben did say that. But then, as one of the founding fathers, he would also have approved of the people voting for more law enforcement if they so desired.

          • Ragazzu

            I don’t recall voting for a police state, Spam.

          • Greg

            Do you really think the US could have the most powerful military in the world and the most aggressive police force in the West if the voters did not want that?

          • Ragazzu

            Don’t be so blind, Spam. Police killings, police brutality, mass incarceration and the “war on drugs” are defining issues in the US right now. But that doesn’t count because you’re at the core contemptuous of real democracy. (And you’re scared shitless of average people.)

          • Greg

            I was starting to think it was our resident troll. I kind of gave him the benefit of the doubt at first, but it’s becoming pretty evident now. The law-and-order fetish coupled with facile canards like “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” and “the police state must be fine if people vote for it, and people must be voting for it if it’s there” -these are dead giveaways.

          • Greg

            So rather than address and refute my claims, you instead resort to a personal attack?

            The voters could easily change the US military or law enforcement policies if they wanted to. It would appear that they do not.

          • Ragazzu

            Sad that Spam can’t walk the confidently streets by himself without a Police State presence to hold his hand. I mean SAD.

      • fredfnord

        “Yeah, agreed. The reality is that downtown has been safer, cleaner and more relaxed (at least for anyone not intending harm or crime) recently than I have ever known it.”

        Translation: “I have been seeing fewer brown people, plus fewer people who make me feel bad by aggressively being unkempt in my range of vision.”

        “Times Square in NYC was never successfully cleaned up until a zero-tolerance “broken windows” approach to policing was taken,”

        Translation: My tax dollars, and those of the poor, are best spent harassing poor people, stopping and frisking thousands of innocent people a day, and generally being mean to people who I do not approve of.

        “The real “danger” here is surely that hard-working, law-abiding, decent people will now expect this quality of life and safety all the time. And that really would be a wonderful legacy of SB50.”

        Translation: Can we PLEASE just gentrify the rest of San Francisco so I can stop having to worry about running into someone who might make me feel uncomfortable? Like anyone who is in any way different from me?

        • Greg

          You imply that “brown” people are more criminal. I find such racist stereotypes to be grossly distasteful.

        • Justanothermonkeyman

          There is actually way more “brown people” downtown now that the SUPERBOWL is going on and yes it is safer. Maybe you can’t fathom that…? Stop trying to use PC to push your BS race/socio agenda.

  • Urban Planner

    Why are we doing this again? Because SF needs to raise its profile to get more people and businesses to come here? To build SF’s weak brand? What we ought to do is rotate the Super Bowl among Detroit, New Orleans & Buffalo… cities that could use the exposure and foot traffic.

  • Greg

    Well-written, sober article.

  • SF4SF

    We should be paranoid. Police militarization is just part of the preparation for a future of robotics/tech where most jobs for people are scarce or non-existent and wages are minimal for most of the growing population. To control the population in another generation or two “we need” to get the majority of people into dense cities without cars where “we” can control movement and communications, and have militarized police as backup for the civil disturbance that is inevitable.

    In preparation for this world of scarcity, we are starting to create false scarcity in order to get people used to waiting in line for state rationed everything. Have you not noticed that the long waits for city issued “BMR” housing (15 years?) and how were creating new layers of “BMR” housing that are now well into the current income levels of the shrinking middle class.

    The transition to this future works for both political spectrums, the party of the rich gets to concentrate wealth at the top during this transition and the party of the people gets to implement all the social programs we’ve ever wanted (eg subsidized housing etc.). But “resources” are limited so down the road all but the uber-rich will be waiting in ques for their rations.

    Hope I’m wrong but it is happening now. Look at the marketing of this transition – “this is what the new generation wants”, “were saving the planet”, “sustainable, walkable, bikeable”. We all want to live in mass housing – little spaces with shared outside “open space”. Today’s tenements for the rich in the future will just be tenements. But by then we will all be used to living in government controlled “units”

    • Pvt. Hudson

      So dig up those rifles and do something about it.

  • Justanothermonkeyman

    This article is exaggerating. I think you need to be a bit paranoid to even be worried about extra police. I have had to walk through “superbowl city” on market every day this week just to get to work and it is not that big of a deal. Sure its inconvenient, but I think the accusation of paranoia goes a bit far. You need to be prepared for the worst and if the City was not I’m sure this article would instead be ripping them for just that.

  • jhayes362

    The NFL has good reason to feel paranoid. Football-induced head trauma is getting more and more attention and the cases apparently have a long tail — showing up well after the players retire, creating a legal minefield. Also, with today’s discussion about wealth distribution and Washington elites from both sides of the political aisle, the NFL’s billionaire owners may not find such a welcoming environment after the next election.

    Beyond that, I found Redmond’s dystopian conclusion interesting. I hope I don’t look back several years from now and say, Wow, that guy was right.

    • Greg

      For once, we agree. I suspect that San Francisco in 2040 will look a lot like what we have seen in the last week. A heavier LE presence due to terror attacks and continuing crime rates, while the voters approve further erosion of civil rights in the interests of safety and security. Coupled with high-tech surveillance and CCTV everywhere. And federal agents with a “license to kill” mandate working under deep cover.

      I’d predict less inequality though, mostly because the poor will by then have almost all decanted to cheaper locales, and almost everyone currently getting a rent-controlled deal will have moved on. The city will be a cacoon for the affluent and tech high-achievers, protected by both aggressive policing and private security outfits.

      Whether that scares you or not probably depends on which side of the great divide you are on.

  • AlbertoRogers

    I hate the inconvenience of Pride Week, Fleet Week, Chinese New Year, Bay to Breakers and Critical mass. Shut them all down too. Nobody should ever be inconvenienced in this town ever again.

  • MKR

    So ISIS won’t invade San Francisco during the Super Bowl weekend. What a relief.
    Now if I were a really smart ISIS terrorist ( I am obviously neither) I would distract all these police and law enforcement officials and then terrorize some other city in California while the resources are distracted during the Big Game. You always have to think one step ahead of the terrorists.

    But SF should be flattered- think about it, 15 years ago no one would have even considered that San Francisco would ever be important enough to require such military and law enforcement presence. When the terrorists wanted to cripple the United States on September 2011 all the planes headed for the East Coast – New York City and Washington. Why would Osama Bin Laden even bother with SF or flying a plane into the Golden Gate Bridge? Now the center of the financial and economic epicenter of North America has moved West … a true sign of the times.