Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The San Francisco Olympic Torch Fiasco



While riding a 47 bus South of Market Wednesday morning, we were at a stoplight by another Muni bus that was filled with uniformed police, and our driver yelled out at his colleague, "You better stop speeding! Otherwise, they're going to give you a ticket!" And then he cackled.



At about 1:30 PM, I walked towards the Giants baseball stadium to get a burrito at Victor's and ran into a mob scene waiting for the beginning of the Olympic torch relay to make its way from McCovey Cove to the Embarcadero.



Though it was claustrophobic the crowd was mellow and filled with amused expectation for some kind of public spectacle.



Meanwhile, San Francisco has a police department that can't even solve a murder when cadaver dogs point them to a body in a vehicle in front of the victim's house with the murder suspects standing and smiling at them. However, when it comes to overtime gravy trains for "special events," they are an overwhelming force to be contended with.



The torch went from the podium at McCovey Cove, into a warehouse, where a sleight of hand occurred, and the torch was driven across town to Van Ness and Pine Street, where the runners went through the Marina up to Doyle Drive. All the people who had come to be part of a public event along the Embarcadero were thereby completely shafted. While the symbolic torch was put back onto a bus to the airport, nobody official made an announcement to the thousands hanging out at Justin Herman Plaza, and the police just wandered away in a perfect "fuck you" gesture.




This was particularly insulting to the many thousands of local Chinese-Americans who were having a blast waving their bright red Chinese flags throughout the streets of San Francisco, something I've never seen before. Still, it wasn't all that surprising. Newsom and his Police Department's approach to the Halloween festivities in the Castro last year were similar. Let's just put up a police state and maybe nobody will notice that the public right to assemble has just been taken away, quite forcefully. It's creepy and essentially stupid.

10 comments:

greg said...

the communists in china found a way for socialism to make a buck, good for them!

it's only a matter of time before the "alliance" in Firefly becomes real

http://www.gregdewar.com/images/AlliedPlanetsFlag.jpg

the merging of China and the US!

chestery said...

I've enjoyed your site for a quite a while but only now finally delurking to say that I really appreciated this and the last post. Despite the massive amount of "official press" and internet coverage of these events, almost none of it exhibits the sort of even-handed sense of humanity you show in these last couple posts. Even my own, despite my sentiments.

In many different ways, it was an unfortunate day.

Matty Boy said...

Public rights! How 20th Century of you to bring them up.

Snarkiness aside, good post and scary stuff.

Henry Holland said...

Scrolling down, I saw the picture of the cop and I had a moment of cognitive dissonance because I thought "Why is there a picture of a dude from the Folsom Street Fair in a post about the Tibet protests".

D'oh.

Meanwhile, San Francisco has a police department that can't even solve a murder when cadaver dogs point them to a body in a vehicle in front of the victim's house with the murder suspects standing and smiling at them.

Um, what's that about? I live in Los Angeles, so I haven't heard about this and for once, The Great God Google was of no help. Any details would satisfy my morbid curiosity.

sfmike said...

Dear Henry: It's a tale of incompetence so amazing that it calls into question everything about the San Francisco Police Department. If you want to Google the SF Chronicle article, it's entitled "Couple arrested in S.F. bludgeoning death" and a tiny URL for the article is here:

http://tiny.cc/m703D

rootlesscosmo said...

That's a particularly outrageous example, but not an anomaly: a year or two ago the Chron compared the SFPD's homicide "closure" rate with other big-city departments and our boys came off looking really bad. Certainly there are honest, conscientious, intelligent people in the department, but they don't set the cultural tone, which is basically thuggish, lazy, inward-looking, and accountable to no one.

Henry Holland said...

Dear Henry: It's a tale of incompetence so amazing that it calls into question everything about the San Francisco Police Department.

[reads article] [jaw hits floor] [stares at computer for a few minutes pondering how totally fucking sad life can be]

That's.....that's.....words fail.

I'll say this about the LAPD, they're total arrogant assholes most of the time and they shoot and taser and don't bother with the whole "ask questions first" thing a lot of the time but damn! they're nowhere near as incompetent as that.

The police chief is going to be fired, right? Right?!?

sfmike said...

Dear Henry: Wrong. There's going to be an "internal investigation," whatever the heck that means.

Henry Holland said...

Oh for fuck's sake, the Internal Affairs whitewash. "Mistakes were made, procedures have been put in place to ensure that this never happens again" etc.

Yikes.

Matty Boy said...

In the 21st Century, a major city will have the Olympic torch running, but do a bait and switch to hide it from the public.

Sounds like I have something new for my semi-regular feature, They Wouldn't Believe Me.