When Do We Call a Celebration a Riot? The SF Giants Win the World Series

When the final pitch was thrown and a strike out ensued, resulting in the San Francisco Giants once again becoming World Series champs, I was tempted to hop in my car and cross the bridge like I did 2 years ago to celebrate with the tens of thousands who were already out and about at local bars or at the Civic Center watching the game on a Jumbotron.

Everyone likes a winner and even more people like the celebrations and festivities that come along with winning. Everyone was upbeat last night and San Francisco was on Fire… It was on fire emotionally speaking, but within an hour of the Giants winning SF literally was on fire.. All over the city bonfires were being lit.. One was downtown on Market street. Another was on 19th and Mission. Another on 23rd and Mission.. Still another was near the police station on 16th and Valencia which was the scene of raucous Occupy protest a few weeks ago.. With each bonfire came people by the hundreds and wasn’t long before folks were tossing in everything they could get their hands on, couches, card board paint cans and other flammable which caused loud bomb-like explosions. Eventually a bus was lit on fire around 3rd and Market in the heart of downtown. We also saw a security truck flipped over with the driver in it..he got out unharmed.

This is the SF Chronicle headline..to describe last night’s vandalism

As each fire was lit and reported on by local newscasts, I couldn’t help but note the tone and wording used to describe the scene. We didn’t hear words like anarchist, outside agitators or thugs to describe those committing wanton acts of vandalism. Instead what we heard was local news outlets like NBC described what was happening as ‘instant street parties’. Others like ABC talked about how exuberant fans and overly joyous fans were celebrating in front of bonfires.

Reporters would utter the word vandalism in the most casual tone and downplay the smashing of bank and storefront windows, crowds chanting ‘F– Tha Police and cars being burned or flipped. The main focus by these local news outlets was about highlighting the excitement around this world series win.

It was hard not to contrast the sanitizing words used to described the destruction happening all over the city of San Francisco with how many of those same news outlets described Occupy, Oscar Grant and anti-war protests where far less damage and mayhem was caused. It was hard not to contrast the way many of those media outlets described spirited celebrations in neighboring Oakland ten years ago (2003) after the Raiders won the AFC Championship.

At that time, one car was flipped over on International Blvd and burned and the entire city was described as one that was in turmoil ‘out of control ‘and the scene of a riot. If you don’t believe me take a look at the picture that ran in the same SF Chronicle where the headline this morning reads ‘SF Giant fans Delirious With Joy‘. Again this is in spite of the fact that celebrating fans burned a city bus in the middle of downtown on top of flipping a car.. As you can see the SF Chronicle headline described the much smaller Oakland celebrations in much more stark ominous tones..using words like ‘Raider Rage‘ and ‘Street Mayhem‘.

This was the scene last night on Market street.. At the time this security truck was flipped over local news outlets described it as ‘over joyous fans celebrating and getting a little out of hand’.

We could spend more time making similar comparisons to the words used to describe more recent events especially since both Occupy Oakland and Occupy SF had one year anniversaries. If you look at the coverage of given to occupy you heard news casters talk about the menacing Black Bloc and how everyone should board up their windows and be prepared. As one Facebook poster jokingly noted on my page last night, its funny that media didn’t warn businesses to watch out for the marauding bands of Orange and Black bloc folks

Even the police when interviewed held measured tones. On ABC news, one of the SF Police captains talked about how his officers were doing all they could to keep everyone safe and the celebration going. In fact at one point, officers on motorcycles came to 19th and Mission while the bonfire was going and gently moved the crowd back vs outright dispersing them.

On one of the live streams monitoring the stuff on Market street, you saw Giant fans getting all up in the face of SFPD talking smack. The police exercised lots of patience not arresting folks or anything like that..Eventually they gave dispersal orders, but the demeanor and overall tone taken was way different from when people were out marching against banks and foreclosures or when folks were protesting the shooting deaths of Kenneth Harding or Charles Hill. The tone taken by SFPD was much harsher as protestors were demonized before they even started. The police message was one of immediate containment, shut down and dispersal. If folks recall we saw over 120 people arrested during an Oscar Grant protest where no bonfires or windows were broken.. We saw over 400 people arrested during an Occupy protest here in the Bay w/ no bon fires. Last night we saw SFPD literally make a walk way to one of the bon fires people lit in celebration of the Giants winning. Throughout most of the evening hardly anyone was arrested, before the night was over close to 40 people were arrested by SFPD.

Imagine if this was an Occupy protest.. would the news outlets reporting this use such sanitizing words?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not pointing all this out because I want to see a police state nor am I condoning vandalism.. I’m also not naive, I realize that after most sports wins there are crazy celebrations that take place all over the world.

It was just last year we had folks going nuts in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup was won. I attended UC Berkeley and recall after damn near every Big Game between Cal and Stanford folks went nuts busting windows and setting fires.Heck I recall how folks flipped car and set fires after Penn Sate coach Joe Paterno was fired..

What I do want people to note is how and when media outlets and the police themselves turn up the ‘fear and danger’ ratchets and when they don’t . I want people to ask themselves and the people doing the reporting why they take particular tones. Last night I tweeted several requests to Bay Area ABC News publicly asking them what do they consider the difference between a riot and a celebration? I never got a response. What I concluded is they and other news outlets are quite deliberate in the tone that they set . More often than not that tone is attached to a political and economic agenda.

This is a scene from an Occupy Oakland demonstration. here the words anarchist, black bloc and outside agitators were used to describe the scene before police moved in in full riot gear w/ weapons drawn.

San Francisco is a tourist city and image is everything if it expects to attract visitors and businesses. The result of this is all hands are on deck to keep a smiling face on what many would consider unacceptable and outrageously dangerous conditions. Hence a riot in San Francisco when done by a whiter and more affluent crowd is just a few ‘delirious with joy fans celebrating a bit too hard‘. The police are restrained and they go all out to ‘protect and serve..

When its a protest challenging the police, unfair economic conditions or a mostly Black and Brown fan base in a city like Oakland ‘expressing their joy, than ‘celebrations‘ turn in ‘street mayhem over run by thugs‘.. Protestors are tarred as out of control anarchists etc. Police are no longer restrained but instead use the large crowds as an excuse to test out new weaponry and crowd control maneuvers. Its social engineering at its best..

Something to think about as we gear up for a big parade to celebrate the San Francisco Giants being World Series champs once again…

written by Davey D

The scene on 19th and Mission Last night after the Giants won and people began ‘celebrating photo: Jill Filipovic

OccupySF Raided by Brutal Police-Connecting the Dots Between Occupy & Fly Benzo

Last night hundreds of San Francisco police showed up at Justin Herman Plaza in riot gear to forcibly remove a hundred or so people at the encampment of OccupySF… Occupiers described it as a sneak attack as police swarmed in from all directions including cops on motorbikes.. 70 people were arrested as police stood guard while sanitation workers trashed tents and threw away full backpacks containing everything from homeless people’s life possessions to laptop computers.

During the raid there were a number of cops who could be seen sneering and laughing at the protestors who yelled at them to stop. As cops made arrest of those refusing to disperse, folks yelled out badge numbers so those watching on live Ustreams could bear witness and better identify offending officers.

As folks watched the officers go to town on SF Occupiers one could not help but note how important it was that they connect the dots and be reminded about the brutality SFPD routinely unleashes on citizens in SF’s Bayview district.

Fly Benzo

One individual in particular, Fly Benzo is a frequent target by police because he’s so outspoken on their brutality. He has been a leading dissenting voice after SF police shot to death 19-year-old Kenneth Harding this summer. Harding was accused of not paying a two dollar bus fare and fleeing from police when confronted… Benzo during a press conference angered police by pointing out how what they did in killing Harding was not unusual. He also noted the irony of the police not being able to solve any of the murders in their community, but somehow seem to be able to ‘find’ everyone who doesn’t have proper permits for amplified sound, expired car tags or drinking in public.. For speaking out Fly Benzo found himself being arrested and hemmed up by police on at least two occasions…

Today when OccupySF regroup at the Ferry Building at noon, we hope those who were brutalized by police last night keep in mind the plight of folks like Fly Benzo and find ways to break bread, share resources and fight back the police together… Here’s a recent video from Fly


We also wanted to share with you some of the day to day work Occupy SF was and continues to do… below is some of our coverage from a march they did over the weekend about foreclosures….


SF Bayview Townhall Erupts SFPD Chief Greg Suhr Shouted Down By Angry Crowd

Here’s some additional coverage of the SFPD and protests on July 19, 2011 in downtown SF on Powell St. Hundreds of people came to the famous cable car turnaround to protests the recent SFPD shootings that resulted in deaths. Shout out to Rome Diggs and the crew from OLM News… We are also including another video from last night’s townhall meeting where SFPD Police Chief Suhr was shouted down and wound up leaving his own townhall after an hour and a half…

Folks in the Bayview are adamant about two things.. 1-19 year old Kenneth Harding did not shoot at police.. and 2-the cops after shooting him, stood around and let him bleed to death..The area that all this took place is packed with little children who play in a park about 10-15ft from the shooting.. There are lots of elders who frequent the plaza which was across the street about 20 ft away.. All of them saw police point guns at community members preventing them from helping Harding as he lay bleeding… Kids, elders and everyone saw this young man die and the cops point guns at the community..



Police Chief Greg Suhr was shouted down at last nights' townhall meeting in the Bayview

Can We Trust SFPD on the Shooting of 19 year old Kenneth Harding?

Here’s a few stories and updates on the recent tragic shooting of 19 year old Kenneth Harding this past Saturday in the SF Bayview district… First we have our Hard Knock Radio coverage where we spoke to several witnesses to the shooting along with community activists. Folks we talk to in the Bayview vehemently refute the accounts given by the police who claim Harding shot at them. Witnesses we spoke to in the Bayview say that’s not true.

Others also want to know why we have not seen the multiple witnesses the police have laid claim to.. Why have they not step forth to speak? Why haven’t other news agencies discovered these witnesses and brought them forth for us to hear and see?

SFPD also claims to have found gun residue on the hands of Kenneth Harding. My question is what news outlets have independently verified this?

SFPD has recently been rocked by one of the largest scandals in its history

Some may ask why be so distrustful of SF Finest? Well as SF Film maker and Bayview resident Kevin Epps pointed out SFPD has already lost credibility with the public. Many have forgotten it was just 3 months ago SFPD was rocked with a scandal that involved dozens of felony cases being dropped because cops were shown on video behaving in unethical manners ranging from falsifying reports, illegally searching suspects, stealing from victims etc. What was shown was believed to be the tip of the iceberg and as results a federal investigation was launched.

If that wasn’t enough the scandal which was the largest in recent history of SFPD wasn’t discovered and ‘policed’ by the department itself. It was Jeff Adachi, the city’s public defender, and private defense lawyers who did the heavy lifting. Much of the scandal took place during the tenure of former police chief George Gascon who now serves as district attorney-Talk about conflict of interest. At last count a whooping 57 felony cases were dropped.

With all that in mind, there’s no way the citizens of SF, especially those in the Bayview can confidently trust the police are gonna be forthright in their findings especially if something egregious took place.

19 year old Kenneth Harding shot

It’s interesting to note that many who staunchly support the police while overlooking these recent scandals are hell bent on suggesting that because Harding had a criminal past he deserved to be shot. That’s wrong on all angles. As community advocate and SF City Commissioner La Mesha Irizarry pointed out, it doesn’t matter if Harding was the poster child for a chain saw massacre, he gets to have his day in court like anyone else. Police are not judge , jury and executioner no matter what. Even if he shot at them as alleged by the police, once he was taken down, medical aid was to be immediately administered. Police are trained to be first responders.. The graphic video along with witness statements shows the police didn’t aid Harding, they let him die.

Anyway you can peep the coverage we did the other day in the Bayview by accessing the following links


The archive will be available up till August 1 2011..

You can also peep the archive on Swift FM


Below are a couple of stories we encourage folks to peep including this one from Tiny Gray-Garcia of POOR Magazine titled
Killed for riding while Poor

We sat together: elders, youth, workers, students, and folks. We were on our way to a low-paid job, an overpriced university, a pre-gentrified home and a public school. There was laughter and shouts, murmurs and silence. Then suddenly, there were nine heavily armed police officers and fare inspectors walking through the crowded 14 Mission Muni line. One stopped in front of me and my son.

“I don’t have a transfer, I lost it,” I tentatively answered a cop who asked to see my paperwork as I clutched my son’s stroller and tried to see how close I was to the back door of the bus.

“We will have to write you a citation and you will have to step off the bus — now.” He was yelling at me and was flanked by another officer. I knew I couldn’t make a run for it, but I almost tried.

I thought of this moment when I heard about the 19-year-old man shot by the SFPD while running away from a Muni bus because he didn’t have a transfer in the Bayview July 16.

Shot and killed for not having $2 bus fare.

At a press conference held July 18 at the scene of the shooting, Joanne Abernathy from People Organized to Win Employment Rights made the point: “No one should be shot for not having enough money to ride the bus.”

You can continue reading the article at SF Bay Guardian.

You can also check out footage of the protest in SF tonite where 35 were arrested


Over 35 people were arrested for protesting the shooting of 19 year old Kenneth Harding