Wednesday, February 24, 2021
News + Politics Crashing the Super Bowl party

Crashing the Super Bowl party

The Super Bowl is for the very rich, but the people who struggle to live here on the streets every day made a strong statement for the national media


The national news media got a look at San Francisco beyond the (boring) glitz of Super Bowl City and stage-managed press conferences tonight as some 500 protesters showed up near the Ferry Building to send a message that the city’s homeless policy is cruel and unacceptable.

Much of the protest focused on the mayor's failed housing policies
Much of the protest focused on the mayor’s failed housing policies

The police were out in full force. Insanely full force.

The event was supposed to happen in the largely open plaza outside the closed Sinbad’s restaurant. But an hour before the start, Port of San Francisco workers were fencing off that area, making it a bit difficult for ferry commuters to catch their rides home.

The Port made everything much more difficult by fencing off what would have been the protest area
The Port made everything much more difficult by fencing off what would have been the protest area

In fact, the Port decision turned the protest into a much more disruptive event than anyone had intended – instead of a short-term tent city on a wide-open space that would have inconvenienced nobody, the idiots at the Port (and I say that with all sincerity, this was really stupid) decided to shut down public space and drive the event out onto the sidewalk in front. The space was crowded; the cops hemmed the protesters in and kept them off the (closed) street (again: why?) so people who just wanted to walk along the Embarcadero were squeezed into the protest.

So many cops, so little threat
So many cops, so little threat

I counted more than 150 cops on the scene, and I would guess at least half of them were on overtime. A lot of money to make sure that a peaceful group of protesters didn’t get too close to the tourists of Super Bowl City.

And nobody intended to go into the tourist trap. The idea was to set up some tents on the ground, to show that there are thousands of homeless people who aren’t getting the benefits of the corporate party and theme park, and that the $5 million that the city is spending to help the NFL make even more money for some of the richest people in the world could have provided housing for a lot of San Franciscans who now live on the streets.

Captain David Lazar tells Jennifer Friendbach of the Coalition on Homelessness that no tents would be allowed
Captain David Lazar tells Jennifer Friendbach of the Coalition on Homelessness that no tents would be allowed

Police Captain David Lazar was in command, and Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, tried to negotiate with him. He was adamant: there would be no entering Port (public) property, and no tents on the ground anywhere. He cited the city ordinance against camping on public property.

Friendebach told him, quite accurately, that the ordinance in question is only enforced sporadically, and that officers have allowed homeless tent cities to spring up all over town – just not anywhere that the rich tourists can see them

But no: Lazar said any tents would be confiscated. And that might lead to arrests.

So on the protest went, as more and more people showed up, and the activists did what they intended to do – they set up tents, with political messages painted on the sides.

No tents on the ground, so the activists had to pick them up
No tents on the ground, so the activists had to pick them up

There was a moment of tension, when Lazar got on the loudspeaker and announced that any tent on the ground would be removed. He had a huge phalanx of cops behind him.

So the activists did the only thing that made sense: The lifted the tents off the ground and held them in their arms. That gave Lazar no choice – he backed off.

And for more than 90 minutes, that’s where it stood, with protesters making speeches, denouncing Mayor Lee, in some cases denouncing the cops, and making it clear that things are just not okay in Super Bowl City.

There were moments of absurdity: At one point, the cops blocked the sidewalk to keep people coming from the south from joining the protest. Seriously: They blocked a public sidewalk to protesters. After a few pointless tense minutes, the officers backed off.

The whole evening was like that. Mass numbers of police in riot gear. I met one man who was some sort of law enforcement officer with a police dog, but he wouldn’t even tell me what agency he was from (homeland security?)

There were Coast Guard officers guarding the Port land – from what?

Former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano at one point addressed the crowd and asked, “What are we, ISIS? How many cops do we need? What am I going to do, hit them with my purse?”

"What am I going to do, hit them with my purse?"
“What am I going to do, hit them with my purse?”

Paul Boden, a longtime advocate for homeless people, said that “we are the best protected fuckers in the world” – there were so many police officers on hand to keep order, but when poor people try to sleep on the streets, they wind up getting citations. “It’s illegal to sit or lie on the streets,” he said. “What the fuck are we supposed to do?”

That’s the question I hope the news media walked away with (and so far, the Chron is making this sound like something that ought to be a funny story, which is really, really, wrong). The city is happy to host an event that caters to the very rich. The mayor has made every effort to keep out of sight anyone who might mar the image of a perfect, clean, San Francisco. For the rest of the week, the city has been turned over to the one percent; it’s a corporate playground, and the rest of us can just shut up and live with it.

But tonight, for a few hours, the rest of us made a statement. I hope the world is listening.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


  1. You haven’t disproven my point and so it stands. Tim claimed the SB was unpopular and yet it drew massive crowds in the Bay Area.

  2. I’ll leave the whining to you $am. You can direct it to those of us who don’t reflexively accept you every assertion of fact.

  3. The Superbowl Village was closed on Saturday night due to overcrowding. They were only letting people in as others left.

    My neighborhood was howling last night with the noise of superbowl parties and people having fun. You must hate that.

    Not popular, my ass.

    Anyway it’s over so what are you going to whine about this week? Basketball? Chess?

  4. What Tim said is irrelevant here. You asserted popular support by the voters for the police and the super bowl and you didn’t present evidence to support this claim.

  5. Again, Tim made the first claim that SB was unpopular. The crowds downtown and the media coverage indicate otherwise. Betting against sports and against America is a losing proposition.

  6. That does not support your comment. You said, “This event and our local peace officers have the overwhelming support of the local citizenry and voters.”

    This may be true, it may not be true. I am aware of no data that will support or disprove this assertion and I made no claim to the contrary. I merely said that you should not assert it as a fact unless you can prove it, which you have failed to do.

  7. Tim made the original claim and provided no supporting facts.

    Turn on any TV, watch all the positive, life-affirming commentary on SB50 and then tell me it’s not popular and exciting here

  8. And you admit that you had no hard data to support your claim. My point remains: the person who makes the claim should defend it. Failing to do so is intellectual sloth.

  9. Actually Tim made the original claim that SB-50 isn’t popular here and I countered that with my personal experience to the contrary. They are called opinions – there are no facts.

    But at least you now admit that you could not counter my claim.

  10. “This event and our local peace officers have the overwhelming support of the local citizenry and voters.” Comment above from $am.

    Poor $am. You surround yourself in a bubble of prejudices and biases made up of dubious facts and a warped view of the world. When someone challenges you about one of these alleged facts, you don’t defend it with solid information, you tell the challenger to prove you wrong and consider it a victory if the challenger refuses to go on a wild chase for facts that would do so.

    We’ve been down this same path many times $am, and the result is always the same. You make some sweeping generalization, I say prove it, and you say prove it’s wrong. That’s what I meant by your intellectual sloth: you say it’s not your job to support your assertions of fact, it’s someone else’s job to prove them wrong.

    Well $am, that’s not the way the world works. I don’t make assertions I don’t think I can back up with hard facts, or if I do, I admit it’s a hunch or an opinion. You, on the other hand, make up stuff all the time and expect people to believe you. Most of the people on this thread are too smart for that, so every time you do this your credibility takes a hit. That may be why you must keep changing your screen name.

    Final note, I did not counter your claim, I merely asked you to prove your claim and you could not.

  11. Ragazzu, that was not “Sam” – it was another Greg. The style and syntax is quite distinct. There are at least three Greg’s commenting here. It’s not confusing if you pay attention.

  12. You countered my claim simply because I made it and not because you have any evidence or logic to support it. I address the topic and you address me – that is your intellectual sloth and dishonesty.

  13. Spam tries SO hard to minimize any citizen’s expression–except his own. Don’t bother arguing with this bitch.

  14. I never supported any any particular view here $am. I was offended by your intellectual sloth in making a statement for which you have no objective evidence. You do this often, and it makes you a bad participant in this forum.

  15. You clearly supported a different view, which presupposes that you have reasons to support that view. Upon scrutiny, it was revealed that you had no rational basis for holding that position. You merely wished to gainsay a viewpoint that you are personally prejudiced against.

  16. I made no counter claim $am. I merely proved that you had no basis for your claim. That’s all I needed to do. As I said earlier, you are wasting our time here by making unsubstantiated statements.

  17. Ah, so you now finally admit that you feel no rational basis to substantiate any claim or counter claim that you make?

    Thank you.

  18. I’m not speculating $am, you are. You made a loose and unsubstantiated assertion, which is common for you, and I called you on it. You are trying to make it my job to counter your claim, but I don’t need to. You need to substantiate your claim, which you have not done.

    At this point, you are wasting my time and yours. Suggest you give it up and pay more attention to what claims you make in this forum.

  19. No $am, I am formally asserting that you have no real data to support your claim. As you learned in high school debate, the one who makes the claim has the duty to prove it, and you haven’t.

  20. I’m not drawing a conclusion about support for SF’s Super Bowl party either way $am. All I’m saying is that anytime you say “overwhelming support” (and this happens frequently) there is a very good chance that you have nothing solid to back it up. This instance — just like the time you claimed that Ed Lee has “overwhelming support” — is no different.

  21. And where is your “scientific rigor”, evidence, statistics and proof?

    Your argument seems to rest on the premise and perception that sports events are not popular. And that a few hundred people whining is more significant. Good luck with that.

  22. Meanwhile it is estimated that up to a million people are visiting and/or attending events to do with superbowl.

    Those estimates do not reflect reality. The attendance at the NFL Village has been in the *hundreds.*

  23. This event and our local peace officers have the overwhelming support of the local citizenry and voters.

    Actually, this event is overwhelmingly NOT supported by the population. Take the football out of your ears and pay attention. This event is causing massive disruption and is a pig in the poke that is being paid for by taxes.

    The “peace officers” as individuals, perhaps, but certainly not the police and sheriff’s departmental leadership.

  24. I suggest that you start by looking at the media coverage of this event, which is overwhelmingly positive. Then you look at the four hour wait to get into the Intel exhibit at the Superbowl village. Then visit a few sports bars on Sunday and see if they are deserted. Or just talk to anyone who doesn’t have a left-wing agenda – I seriously have not met a single person who is upset about the superbowl being here.

    While on the other hand we have 200-400 “protesters”, many of whom were the same usual suspects who show up for any demonstration. Come on, Hayes, it’s not even close in terms of numbers.

  25. Is that why there are packed sports bars all over the city? And why the 49’ers and the Giants play to packed crowds?

  26. What evidence do you have of this “overwhelming support” $am? This is a tactic you use frequently and without any documentary support. OK to say this if you can prove it. I don’t think you can.

  27. The Port fencing off open space was shrewd, not stupid, they are not the idiots. Obviously their goal was to keep any tents from hitting the ground, and they succeeded. Think of the TV visuals. Protesters being dragged out of tents and police tearing down tents. That would have been a PR disaster for SF. Instead we had a rag tag group of protesters carrying around tents which looks quite silly. Silly protesters in SF is a daily occurrence and not national news worthy. As far as protests go, this was a huge fail. But keep patting yourselves on the back.

  28. I keep hearing on KCBS that “the protesters shut down the Embarcadero” last night. Not so. It was the cops who occupied the northbound lanes. And it is SuperBowl Silly that has shut down all the rest of the streets in the neighborhood.

    What we really need to shut down is Silly Hall.

  29. By looking at the news reports live from the Super Bowl City, the attendance will be less than expected.

    And Sam, you are over-posting again.

  30. Tim said that many of the cops there were from other agencies e.g. coastguard and port police, neighboring counties, CHP, state and federal agencies.

    I would expect a major event and potential terrorist target to be aggressively policed, with a zero tolerance approach taken.

  31. Tim mentioned the figure of “one percent” implying that was such a small number that they should not get their way. And yet he thinks that 1/100 of that number has significance and indicates a growing momentum?

    Meanwhile it is estimated that up to a million people are visiting and/or attending events to do with superbowl.

    If numbers matters at least put them in perspective.

  32. Loved the lady on the front of the Examiner today! “GIVE US LAND” where do I sign up for some of that??? there’s free land??? AWESOME!!!

  33. “Overtime” is the Big Mantra for the City Family. They all get lots of it. It’s a nice perk added to their bloated pension packages.

  34. It was bigger, it went for hours with many folks coming and going. Easily 1,000 came through over the course of the event from 4:30 until like 8pm.

  35. Tonight was a spectacular display of creativity, compassion, community, and people power. Truly extraordinary and inspiring. Keep it up folks, the momentum is building!

  36. I’m not sure if the number matters but it wasn’t 500. Reuters said “as many as 200”, Time .com said “at least 100”. KQED said “several hundred”

  37. “Progressive” Goals on Tuesday:
    “And what’s going to happen tomorrow when a few thousand people show up
    in solidarity with the homeless population? At least then the people
    who come to Super Bowl City will get a taste of San Francisco.”

    “Progressive” Outcome on Wednesday:
    “…500 protesters showed up near the Ferry Building to send a message that
    the city’s homeless policy is cruel and unacceptable.”


  38. “they represented about 1/1000 of one percent of the Bay Area population”. And 8% of the SFPD force was there for them.

  39. “That is, 99.99% of people in the Bay area did not protest.”

    “This event and our local peace officers have the overwhelming support of the local citizenry and voters. ”


  40. 500 people is less than one tenth of one percent of the population of the city. In other words over 99.9% of city residents were not part of this protest. Given that many of those 500 were from elsewhere in the Bay Area, they represented about 1/1000 of one percent of the Bay Area population. That is, 99.99% of people in the Bay area did not protest.

    This event and our local peace officers have the overwhelming support of the local citizenry and voters. Why doesn’t that matter to you?

    Oh, and most football fans are not “rich”. They are ordinary working people.

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