Sunday, March 13, 2016

God is watching: Dogs and ponies don’t make the cut in SF

For the past couple of weeks, Washington in its great wisdom sent a DOJ subsidiary which calls itself COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) to stage a series of three town halls designed to pour oil on San Francisco’s tense racial waters. By its own admission the COPS is a recommending body, a body without teeth. “Experts” all, it takes this body 18 months to cobble together their assessment at taxpayer expense. They make recommendations and release their findings 18 months later. I attended one of these sessions, last Monday, March 7, 2016.

Eighteen months is a long time. How many more black and brown people will be gunned down by the gangs of rogue cops on the blood stained streets of San Francisco in that time? At the present rate of blood sacrifice we can expect that up to 28 mothers may lose their sons.

The “town hall” strategy has been used by the SFPD over many years. As a general rule, such a panel or commission consists of white people pulling down middle class salaries. In my limited experience, the approach of these commissions or panels is utterly to ignore the high level of rage and mourning for loved ones present at any such hearing. Perhaps the rationale is that by ignoring such  feelings they will automatically dissipate. The reaction, however, is that far from dissipating them, it serves to intensify them, for two reasons: people feel their intelligence is being insulted, and people feel their grieving is being discounted.

Here’s what the 3/7/16 town hall was like: The spokesperson in charge mounted the Mission H.S. podium at 6:00 PM. Reading from a prepared script, making ample use of words like “partnership,” “ community policing,” “approved practices,” she spread great puddles of platitudes like warm mustard plaster over a thinly scattered audience while their eyes glazed, and restless stirrings were audible. The mic was turned over to another speaker who addressed more specific San Francisco-related issues, underscoring that “we are here to ‘listen.’ Taken in toto, these rhetorical exercises lasted 15 minutes of the allocated 2 hour time slot.

Next a huckster dripping sincerity and snake oil, took over. He asked the audience to yell out answers to specific questions: what was the issue people most wanted to talk about.

“Murder.” “Fire Chief Suhr.” “Justice for Mario Woods.” The roar reached such a pitch trying to isolate any of these shouts became impossible.

Another such exercise followed, with people all screaming at once to answers elicited from a set of questions illegible on the projected power point—even from the first row. It struck me these exercises had all the subtlety of tossing slabs of meat to safely caged lions. Indeed the COPS had come to listen, but listen to what? Was this a technique borrowed from group therapy sessions designed to encourage people to vent, and doing so, defuse the rage already evident in the room?

Next, speakers were enjoined to line up in both right and left aisles with mic stands provided for the purpose.  Each speaker was given a generous five minutes (as opposed to the last town hall which restricted people to three). Some 40 people spoke

“Who in DC  sent you here?” one speaker wanted to know. It was the only question pointed at this collection of carpet baggers, some of whom located themselves in distant areas of the auditorium. “Why are you here? Why are we talking to the B team when we need the A team to come out here?” And as might be expected, he received no straight answer. “We want Chief Suhr fired, we want rogue cops jailed for murder. We want Loretta Lynch out here to conduct an investigation.”

“Why is Chief Suhr here? He’s here at the behest of Mayor Lee to clear low-income neighborhoods for developers to come in and make this city unaffordable for anyone other than folks making 6 figures.”

I learned a lot from listening to the speaker array. Chief Suhr (pronounced sir, as in yessir!)has been charged for conspiring to obstruct an investigation into police violence in 2013; and demoted twice, once for mishandling a G-8 protest. and once for failing to file a report of an episode of domestic violence involving a friend.

The population of black people living in the city is down to 3% (from 10% in the days when the Fillmore had not yet undergone “urban renewal”) and that proportion of 3% makes up 40% of all of San Francisco arrests. Does that single statistic require a rocket scientist to parse??

I learned to what degree the SF Police has become a terrorist body, protecting their own, clouded in a code of silence, promoting the terrorist darlings of the chief, who himself climbed out of the recruitment ooze, appointed by terrorists before him. I learned about the pipeline from catholic school that guarantees 90K jobs to rookies fit for nothing but the football field, and the mean streets of SF. All these years, white people have been congratulating ourselves that we live in the most progressive area of the country, but the SFPD is so corrupt, it could do Mississippi proud.

Washington is scared. It knows the facts. And after the exoneration yesterday of the four rogue cops who drilled Alex Nieto’s body with 59 bullets, claiming he was threatening them with a taser, it should be scared. Because Alex Nieto’s wrist bone was found by the coroner to be IN HIS POCKET. Washington knows that people can be pushed only so far. And when they’re pushed to the brink, it becomes necessary to provide them with the illusion that the sensitively named COPS is there to listen.

And what will we do about it? Next time DC sends out their defusing team, several strategies involving changing the space are possible. 1) Take over the stage. En masse.  Encourage the shamsters to sit in the audience and listen. Then, moderate ourselves so as not all to talk at once. One of the ways to do that is to agree to structuring the meeting as a spokescouncil. 2) Walk out. DO NOT PARTICIPATE. Better theater is to be had out in the streets, away from dog and pony shows. In the streets, what you see is what you get.

Over late dinner last Monday night, through the plate glass windows giving on Valencia Street in the Mission District’s heart, I watched some 23 luxury, double decker buses roll by, their tinted windows glowing with eerie blue lights, ferrying the techies home to their luxury SF condos from Silicon Valley’s 12-hour days, safely insulated from having to see people being assassinated in San Francisco’s blood-stained streets, oblivious that the high rent they’re able to pay is driving out San Francisco’s working class.

Back in the East Bay, I hail a cab home. “Been to the theater?” my Somali cabbie asks me.  “Yes,” I tell him, “but not the usual kind.” I give him details. “Assassination,” he says. “Genocide. But God is watching,” he assures me.

In Somalia they still call a  spade a spade.

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