Wednesday, November 7, 2007

San Francisco Crime Wave?

While (knock wood!) nothing's happened to me personally, anectodal reports and news stories seem to be saying crime in San Francisco is on the upswing, and perhaps more importantly, criminals are getting more brash and violent. A friend came up to the city from LA to see me DJ a few weeks ago, and went downtown Saturday afternoon. He parked his car on 5th St. near Minna by the Chronicle building around 2-ish, went and wandered around a bit, and when he came around 3pm, two guys were throwing a rock through the back window of his car. He yells "hey, get away from there," but instead of running off, one of them attacks him, throwing him up against a chain link fence while the other searches the car. Of course he has nothing of value. After they left it took two hours for the cops to arrive, then there was checking out the bruised rib at the hospital, the thousands of dollars in car repairs, and the shattered nerves. Granted, 5th Street isn't exactly the Marina, but 3 in the fucking afternoon?

Matier and Ross have a little story about crime affecting noted San Francisco officials, with quite a few eyebrow-raising stories, including the Police Commissioner getting whacked on the head for his iPhone, for instance. It also seems like the homeless population has gone up a whole level, and they seem to be more aggressively panhandling. I try to toss people change when I can -- no matter how shitty my life is, theirs are worse, even if it's all their own fault, and I'd hope somebody would give me 50 cents if I went crazy and started living on the street -- but it's honestly like walking through a war zone downtown. One unusually warm night last year I decided to walk home from my job in North Beach to my house in SOMA, about a half-hour jaunt across downtown, and as it was about 9pm, the homeless population had settled into doorways and benches. The sheer numbers were overwhelming to me -- I probably came across 100 homeless people just on my route home. It seems symbolic of the problem with San Francisco: supposed liberalism is corrupted by its monolithic hold on government power, and because there's no dynamic opposition forces, far fewer liberal goals are ever actually met, and what does happen is half-assed. Homelessness has been a huge issue for 20 years here, but a concerted effort (with money behind it, like, for better or worse, New York's effort to clean up their streets in the 80s and 90s) seems more impossible than ever. But with crime and homelessness seemingly reaching a critical point, one wonders how much the city can take, until even our safely-ensconced Democratic machine candidates get the message.

1 comment:

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