After watching shit go down in the Mission last night, I gotta say shame on the SFPD.
Yes, things got wild last night at 16th/Valencia–but in a largely controlled way. How so? Well…some dude, who was totally amped and clearly looking for a fight (he was jumping up and down around the moving cars screaming to some other guy “you want some of this?!?!”)—well, he got his fight. After provoking the other dude, some punches were thrown, but the crowd separated the two and it was over.
While that was winding down, some other dude pulls out a knife and shows it to me and my buddy. I tell the guy, “Hey, you don’t really need that. How ‘bout you hand it over and I’ll get it to you another time”. He says back “Yeah, you’re right, it’s not worth it” and puts the knife back in his pocket.
Yeah, there was a fire in the middle of Valencia, but it was a cardboard fire that would burn itself out in 5 min (or could be put out with a fire extinguisher within 2 seconds).
Cars were parading up and down Valencia, but many of them had kids inside—those of us on foot were high-fiving the passengers. Some folks got on top of their cars, but no one got hurt.
Almost everyone was brown-bagging it, but people were keeping their shit together for the most part.
Some folks had firecrackers—but everyone had the sense to aim them upward and not at each other.
A newspaper dispenser got thrown in the street—in true SF style, some people started playing the drums on it and a drum circle was born.
The point is, people were out having a good time, maybe a little out of control, but not necessarily dangerously. Until SFPD showed up.
Cops in full riot gear assembled at the intersection of 17th and Valencia and formed a line stretching across Valencia. Without any warning, any announcements, nothing, these guys just charged at the crowd. In doing so, they nearly started a stampede—everyone (including myself) was trying to get the hell out of there ASAP. I saw one cop shove a woman down with his baton. WTF?
The cops pretty much cleared the area, with some people remaining in pockets east and west of Valencia on 16th. Then more and more riot-gear donning cops showed up. They marched in silently, made no announcements, and established a perimeter around the intersection of Valencia and 16th. They hung out for a while, then exited en masse—I estimate 100+ cops in total. From there, it was business as normal for the revelers.
I don’t understand the motivation behind the riot cops charging the crowd. It would have been much more effective for them to announce to everyone that they needed to disperse. Or for normal cops (i.e. not wearing riot gear) to have walked amongst the action. Their actions actually made the situation far more dangerous than had they not been there at all.