by Davey D
The city of San Francisco, once a home to counterculture and folks who were free spirited, has changed for the worse over the past five to 10 years. Borrowing a page from New York’s Michael Bloomberg, the city by the Bay has modeled itself after New York by trying to become a playground for the über rich. Poor folks, mostly Black and Brown, have been gentrified out of the city as the average rent has skyrocketed to $3,500 for a one bedroom.
Over the past 10 years there’s been an explosion of ugly lime green (luxury green) highrises with a starting price of a million dollars. According to Tim Redmond of the Bay Guardian in a recent radio interview on KPFA, the target market for these new buildings are world travelers who seek to have homes in a variety of cities, San Francisco being one of them. His remarks underscored the landmark issue the BG called “Soul of the city” that focused on all those being forced to move out of SF.
As San Francisco has attempted to luxurize itself, one of the other tactics they attempted to borrow from New York City was stop and frisk. Mayor Ed Lee said he thought it would be a good idea, even though SF is not known for being a violent city with an out-of-control crime problem.
Many suspected that Lee would be concentrating stop and frisk efforts on folks living in the Tenderloin, which has a large homeless population and is an area where the mayor would like to see more high-tech companies relocate. Twitter is already located in the Tenderloin, not paying any taxes.
The other areas where many suspected stop and frisk would be used was in Bayview Hunters Point, the City’s last Black neighborhood. Over the past 10 years Blacks have been pushed out of SF – the population, once a healthy 15 percent, now less than 5 percent.
The other place where police repression was likely to be applied is in the historic Mission district, which is home to a very large Latino population. For folks who’ve never been there, the Mission has a similar vibe to The Village in New York, with a lot of foot traffic, international flare, Victorian houses which remind folks of brownstones and tons of eateries. Many rich folks from out of town have been moving there, causing rents to rise and displacing longtime residents.
The Board of Supervisors voted to overrule the mayor and turned down stop and frisk as levelheaded San Francisco residents made a huge stink. However, the mayor, undaunted along with his police, has turned to another tactic: hunting or wolf packing. This is how a former San Francisco resident forced to relocate to Oakland described the tactic when she sent me this video of what she noted is this growing trend.
In the video below, you will see an example of this, as a young Black man, described as 18-19 years old and only 5 feet 2 inches tall, is nearly run over by a cop on the sidewalk. According to witnesses, he got into an argument with another cat his own age when police arrived upon the scene and immediately used their bikes to run him off the sidewalk.
He’s then slammed to the ground and his face mushed into a sewer grate in the gutter for several minutes. The suspect, who is small, is not resisting as more than 15 officers show up to arrest him. The show of force is deliberate and a way of trying to intimidate residents.
The Board of Supervisors voted to overrule the mayor and turned down stop and frisk as levelheaded San Francisco residents made a huge stink. However, the mayor, undaunted along with his police, has turned to another tactic: hunting or wolf packing.
It’s a damn shame to see this sort of abuse of power, especially when you consider Mayor Lee, who was largely applauded for being the City’s first Asian-American mayor, was a long-time civil rights attorney. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as many traditional civil rights organizations and leaders have turned the concept upside down.
This is a city whose police department in the past year had to toss over 50 cases of trumped up felonies, thanks to corruption. This is also a police department that shot a man, Kenneth Harding, 19, and let him lie dying in the street for all to see when he couldn’t produce proof of a $2 fare.
This video below from SF Hip Hop artist Dregs One breaks down the gentrification drama in the city by the Bay.
Listen to Davey D on Hard Knock Radio Monday-Friday at 4 p.m. and his Morning Mix show every Tuesday at 8 a.m. on KPFA 94.1 FM or kpfa.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website, daveyd.com, and his blog, Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner, where this story first appeared.