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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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News + Politicsletters we answerLetters: Criminalizing SF youth, selling out cab drivers ....

Letters: Criminalizing SF youth, selling out cab drivers ….

... and the sad end to Anchor Steam. Our readers respond.


An encore to Anchor Steam

I’m gonna do two things tonight: 1. Drink an Anchor Steam beer and say a toast to the company, to the brilliant Fritz Maytag and to all the awesome people who worked at the brewery and and made such fine stuff.
2. Swear an oath to never, ever, ever drink anything made by Sapporo.

Victoria Weste

Protests over the treatment of youth at the Dolores Street skateboard bomb.

Even the cops should lay down their arms

I have lived in San Francisco since I disembarked at 11:05pm on December 31, 1997, from a plane traveling from Minnesota. I was 21 with dreams of queer freedom and liberation. I arrived at the place I was staying in the Outer Mission, and outside a gun fight erupted. I stayed in that New Year’s Eve cause it seemed the wisest (and safest) thing to do in an unfamiliar city.

Gun violence is a constant in my 27 years in this place I love and call home. It’s never gone away. Two summers ago, there was a drive-by shooting across the street from my house. This past June there were at least two shootings in the Mission, my neighborhood. I do not remember a year in San Francisco where guns haven’t been fired and someone has either been injured or killed. Again, that’s 27 years out of 27 years.

I include in this accounting of gun violence the 58 neighbors who have been shot and killed by San Francisco Police, including Idriss Stelley, Jessica Williams, Sean Moore, Mario Woods, Luis Gongora Pat, Alex Nieto, Asa Sullivan, O’Shaine Evans, Keita O’Neil, Michael MacFhionghain, and Rafael Mendoza. It also includes the two officers who’ve been killed by gunfire.

Over these 27 years, I have seen over and again that guns simply increase violence. They do not solve it. They do not interrupt it. They do not contain it. They do not minimize harm or increase a sense of safety. Guns perpetuate insecurity, hostility, and aggression. Every. Single. Time.

That’s why scenes of San Francisco Police with their batons and guns raised (even if they contain “less lethal rounds”) on my neighbors, young and old, on July 4 and at the Dolores St. Hill Bomb on July 8, 2023, are completely dystopian, authoritarian, and downright disgraceful. The police arrived ready to enforce, ready to fire, and ready to exert their will on the people of San Francisco. They did not come ready to aid or to keep safe or to even contain, though they did kettle teens.

It really seems to me San Francisco Police are at war with San Franciscans. There is no good faith effort on SFPD’s part to truly engage with or even try out its Community Policing Strategic Plan. Objective 3.2, specifically states, “Collaboratively identify and develop responses to local issues and concerns with individuals, community-based organizations, and city services.” SFPD has known this Hill Bomb has been happening for more than five years. In no way does showing up with more than 100 officers (all with guns and some with them readied to fire) demonstrate a culturally appropriate, community-informed response to a known community (even if unsanctioned) event. In fact, SFPD’s plan states, “problem-solving should be decided alongside community members to make sure efforts are focused on areas of shared concern.” As a known event, SFPD should have been doing police work aimed at problem-solving alongside trusted community organizations and businesses over the last five years to come up with more innovative ways to ensure public safety of skaters, neighbors, and pedestrians. Guns, batons, and riot gear are not the solution.

Additionally, the kettling of teens by SFPD seems to be in direct violation of DGO 7.01, which governs how SFPD is supposed to interact with juveniles. Kettling began a little before 8:30 pm. Teens weren’t brought back to Mission Station until 12:30 am or later. According to DGO 7.01 Item II.B.7, in both secure and non-secure detention SFPD has a responsibility to provide “access to basic amenities,” including “reasonable access to toilets and washing facilities,” and “a snack if the juvenile has not eaten within 4 hours.” Item II.B.8 states, “Members are responsible for the security, safety, and well-being of detained juveniles.” According to Mission Local reporting, teens didn’t have access to a bathroom. Nor were they provided a snack or water. Furthermore, the restraining, not just kettling, of teens for hours seems to be in direct violation of being responsible for the teens well-being.
Direct General Order 5.06, states, “This order mandates the policies for issuing citations to persons arrested for misdemeanor and infraction violations, establishes procedures for citing AT THE SCENE, and specifies when an incident report is required.” It seems to me to imply that for minor infractions, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time, one (no matter the age) should be cited and released from the scene of the infraction. This then suggests that SFPD acted in violation of DGO 5.06 as well.

How are we, the community of San Francisco, supposed to take SFPD at their word when they continually violate their own Strategic Plans and  General Orders? How are we supposed to trust that “The SFPD is committed to creating a safe, healthy, and vibrant community?” Or that their “role as protectors is rooted in empathy, understanding, and mutual respect?” Their actions again and again demonstrate otherwise.

I have no answers to these questions. I really wish I did. What I do know is that someone has to lay down their arms if we as a community of San Franciscans want to actually heal from the harms and traumas of gun violence. And I think it’s the responsibility of the one with the bigger guns and the bigger budget to put them down first.

Jason Wyman

 Criminalizing SF youth

Thanks for the story about the hill bomb. I can’t help but see it in a larger context of a push to criminalize SF’s youth. SFUSD has pushed a narrative of absenteeism this past year, but myself and other parents have noted that often times our kids’ marked absences are incorrect, which means those absence numbers are inflated. This absenteeism narrative is used to push for punitive measures like suspensions or pushout to the alternative high schools (which will improve data at the other schools).

On top of this, the district cuts funding for SEL and after-school programming, and understaffs to a dangerous level leaving kids unsupervised. So we get stories of youth violence and the cries become to jail them kids! Even members of the Youth Commission have backed suggestions that the district should put SROs [police officers] back in schools, though notably those commissioners are private school students.

And of course, juvenile hall remains open. So now SFPD and Jenkins, in one night, have drastically escalated their juvenile arrest numbers for the year. They, and Dr. Wayne, are likely to use this in the fall to 1) close “troubled” schools and 2) return SROs to middle and high schools.

All to the cheers of Moritz and SF Parents.

Allyson Eddy Bravmann

Unlawful activity

I wonder why Tim Redmond did not include in his article the fact that some of the teenagers in his piece were engaged in unlawful activity. I saw some spitting on cops and others throwing filled water bottles at the cops. He makes it seem that all these kids were doing is skate boarding and onlooking. That is not what was happening. But us readers have grown accustomed to Mr. Redmond’s political bias when he reports on events in the City. Any fact that may counter his politics gets ignored. I continue to read “48 Hills” because I want to expose myself to all political perspectives, but this Redmond piece points to a lack journalist integrity that Mr. Redmond has engaged in for a while now.

Richard Parina

Tim Redmond responds: Thanks for reading 48hills. My point in the article was not that every person at the event was entirely law-abiding, but that the appearance of so many heavily armed cops, and the mass arrests, was far out of proportion to any alleged offenses—and that the cops were dealing here with kids. I have never hidden my political bias, but I seek to be fair and get the facts right. Sorry I am not living up to your standards.

Ed Lee sold out the cab drivers

Great article! I started driving a taxi in1978, age 22, and got my Prop. K medallion 1999, at age 41. In 2021, at age 60, I said goodbye. My income was half of what was 20 years ago, and I’m a damn good cab driver. I’m at driver school making double what I would make as a cab driver. Ed Lee and the taxi companies sold us and the public out. Not to mention the drivers who purchased medallions whose lives and their families have been devastated!

Keith Raskin

 Some communities want more election info

Hi, this isn’t a correction so much as an addition. Regarding your July 9 piece, thanks for mentioning the pending Board legislation to opt out of AB 1416’s listing supporters and opponents on the ballot for local measures. It’s too bad this hasn’t had more discussion. I mainly wanted to point you to this Mercury News article from April.
The article points out that Santa Clara County, Los Angeles County, and Orange County are all staying opted in to AB 1416, so it’s interesting that San Francisco is opting out. I also pointed this out in my memo to the SF Elections Commission at the commission’s June meeting.

Chris Jerdonek

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
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.


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