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.
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.
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.