Sunday, September 25, 2016

Saturday Civic Center Security Standoff

At the corner of McAllister and Van Ness on Saturday around noon, we noticed yellow caution tape across McAllister Street and scores of police, fire and other security vehicles. As we jumped onto a Muni bus to Russian Hill for lunch, I guessed it was one of those occasional bomb scares at City Hall which eventually turn out to be somebody's forgotten gym bag.

We walked back to Civic Center because traffic a couple of hours later on Van Ness was at a standstill, and the situation looked the same.

I asked a news cameraman (not pictured above) what was happening, and he replied, "There's supposedly a man with a gun in Civic Center park, but the police won't shoot him because he's white."

I wondered how the police had even noticed a man with a gun in Civic Center Plaza, since open drug injection, people threatening others with knives, and all manner of illegal mayhem are daily occurrences in and around the plaza, and the SFPD tends to ignore their behavior. The mystery was solved after reading an SF Gate story which reported that the man had phoned the police himself and was promising suicide and possible harm to others.

I returned to the neighborhood at 6:30 PM when the first security vehicles were beginning to depart and talked to another newsperson who had been camped out most of the day. "They talked him down, but it turns out the gun was a fake, plastic replica," he said.

At least it was a warm, lovely day for the SFPD, the Fire Department, the FBI, and who knows what other security agencies managed to involve themselves in the standoff. They seemed to be enjoying their time together, although people whose cars were trapped in the Civic Center area for close to seven hours were probably not as amused.

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