Community Meeting: Engagement is the Key

A few Mission Mission readers, as well as Mission Mission itself, attended the meeting. Reader dogfella weighed in first:

Overall somewhat disorganized and not really sure what the goal of the meeting was other than a soapbox.

Various community-based organizations used the soapbox to preach one thing: Instead of spending more and more money on more and more cops, put at least some small part of it toward more outreach programs. People are upset that patrols focus on Medjool and the Valencia corridor instead of the more residential parts of the neighborhood, where schoolchildren are getting stabbed up on a regular basis. Instead of SWAT teams and K-9 units, they want rec centers to be open later.

Reader dogfella also calls attention to the poor turnout:

Considering that 7 people were killed in the last week, turnout of about 110 people (incl. city officials, non-profits) seems pretty dismal.

To put that in perspective:
*SFGate reports that Glen Park’s community meeting in response to a stabbing / store robbery had 300 attendees.

*Last year when SF was going to increase street cleaning in the Mission to 2x’s a week per side, over 100 people stormed city hall and Tom Ammiano’s office to protest that the city was adding street cleaning to increase ticket revenues (never mind the crazy amounts of garbage on the streets).

So where was everybody? John offers this theory, which I hope is erroneous: “the mission has been taken over by hipsters. That’s why nobody went to that meeting, hipsters dream about ‘change,’ they preach about it, but they always expect others to deliver those changes.”

Next up, reader zinzin offers another, possibly related possibility:

the meeting was primarily for the Brown people that live in the hood, have lived here since the 50’s – the Latino community from whom the artists / punks / hipsters / yuppies stole the neighborhood – because it’s them that are having their kids killing one another.

for the most part (i’m sure there are exceptions)…no one from any of these newer groups can really understand what it must be like to have your kids in the life, blamming away at one another with guns. kids!

Blam! Is this why turnout was poor? The punks and yuppies don’t get it? Too surreal, all these grisly murders? Do we need a concerted effort to get everyone in the neighborhood more engaged with everybody else? Maybe so.

At the meeting, I met an older dude named Mike who’s been a Mission resident for decades. He said he’d seen it all before — the violence, the efforts to curb it. So I asked if any particular elements of past efforts had seemed valuable at all, and without batting an eye, he said yep. There once was a lady cop who rode her bike around the neighborhood, meeting people and making friends and generally getting engaged with the community. She made neighbors feel at ease, everyone felt good about everything, and then they shipped her off to another precinct.

In any case, Mike sees this kind of police presence as supremely valuable, and one can see why. An engaged police officer is a better police officer, and an engaged neighbor is a better neighbor. Better cops, better neighbors — better neighborhood.

Update: Photos by dogfella.

20 Responses to “Community Meeting: Engagement is the Key”

  1. güero says:

    Nobody showed up because they know nothing is going to come out of it. The hipsters? Why should they care? They are only going to stay here until some other place becomes more desirable to live. And if one or two or three or even seven hipsters get killed, they will all leave faster than you can open up a sushi bar on 24th Street.
    And then you have to sit there and hear activists whine how we need more money so the kids have something to do….We don’t need police…blah..blah..blah”
    Having a rec center is peachy but we all know we need more cops…it’s sorry to say but we need the 1950′s style-cracking-heads-taking names type of cops. A DA that actually prosecutes gangbangers would probably help out as well.
    Rec centers? Puh-leaze…so how are rec centers in the Mission going to discourage drug dealers, commuting on Bart from Richmond, from selling drugs here? Or stopping hit men from Oakland from blowing holes in the people who live here?
    Nothing will get done because no one is honest enough to say or do what it really takes. We all just have to live with it.

  2. Here’s my progressive take on stopping the violence:

    Mayor Newsom has sole authority over the police. He’s been a miserable failure, and I wish we could recall his ass already. It took the Board of Supervisors to get the SFPD to walk foot patrols, and they had to override the Mayor’s veto to do it. Back in June 06, progressive ran a campaign for a violence prevention fund to fund after school programs, job training, etc. Gavin opposed it and it barely lost.

    I agree with the Old Dude Mike’s perspective that you need cops that are engaged with the community. Cops cracking heads and an ass kicking DA can’t do shit by themselves, because they won’t win the trust of the community that you need to get witnesses to stand up and testify against the thugs. That’s why the criminals are so fearless–they know no one will testify against them.

    Which leads me back to one last progressive idea: the school board is working on an alternative program to replace JROTC, possibly a police cadet program. That sounds like a great idea to me. We need more young, native cops who know the neighborhoods.

    Finally, about the East Bay commuter dealers, as far as I know, that’s in the Tenderloin. Most of the Mission violence is from natives. I think Gavin is bringing that up to try to distract from the fact that he has no clue what’s going on.

  3. elly says:

    it’s sad that in searching for reasons for the poor turnout, the age old ‘the hipsters don’t care’ argument was brought up. yawn. can we stop falling back on complaining about “hipsters” (what does that even mean?) at every possible turn?

    my guess is that there was poor turnout because the meeting wasn’t well publicized. i live only a few blocks away and have been VERY concerned and would have gone, but i just didn’t hear about it until late today after i got home.

  4. Plug1 says:

    its going to get worse before it gets better. let a white woman, a tourist, or some baby get got by one of those gangsters and you’ll catch The Mayors ear.

    and WTF is going on on Valencia? i visited The Dirty 30 for the first time in almost a year last week and peeked inside of some new resto named Fritz. jesus christ, i almost lost it. the fabric of The Mission has been irreversibly destroyed. many of the people/places that used to make it one of my favorite neighborhoods a long, long time ago…have all but disappeared.

  5. ChrisH says:

    I call bullshit on the commenters in this thread and the commenters from the meeting. Firstly, no one stole the Mission from anyone. It doesn’t belong to Latinos any more than it did to the Irish who they replaced. Secondly, the notion that it’s outsiders causing the problems is ludicrous. It is in fact locals. The whole idea of the other, the neighboring clan, the immigrant, the foreigner causing the problems is a ridicules conceit to make someone feel better that it’s not us but them. Thirdly, the solution is more cops and more effective cops. Last Wednesday I walked around at night, on Treat, on 24, on 23 and saw no police. Sure occasionally they’ll race up Folsom at high speed but they don’t stop. And finally, where are the parents? There is a complete failure in parenting that allows children to grow into these roles of corner thug.

  6. katie says:

    I want to point out that Glen Park didn’t meet just because of the beating and stabbing of a store owner. Glen Park, which is very small, equivalent to maybe a block or two of the Mission, has had regular targeted muggings, rapes, and burgularies. Nothing as brutal as the recent violence in the Mission of course.

  7. MrPoopyCaca says:

    Despite being a hipster, I didn’t attend because I didn’t even know about the meeting and I live a half block away from the Mission rec center. Holding meetings with little notice is an example of the lazy engagement with the community that has persisted in city government and on the police force. Had i known about the meeting and gotten off work early, i would have attended.

  8. zinzin says:

    Hey ChrisH…when i said “stole the neighborhood”, i was being flip. the current cultural creative crowd (first it was punks, then artists, then hipsters, then yuppies) stole it from the Latinos, who stole it from the Italians & Irish, who stole it from the landed gentry, who I guess stole it from the Native Americans.

    i was (poorly) making a point that the Latino community has been in the Mission for over 50 years, and has been largely ignored by the city.

    i think the killings are pretty clearly centered in that community – i feel bad for the families – and it’s interesting that that’s pretty much who came to the meeting: Latino activists, other PROGRESSIVES that want to help that community, etc. Pretty much no one else…not in any numbers.

    anyways, i think all these comments & thoughts & considerations are great. it’s really a pleasure to see so much passion for our hood.

    i’ll say this again & again: if you care about the Mission….and it sounds like you do…


  9. zinzin says:

    Oh, one more point for Pissed Off…the drug trade – at least at the street level – at Mission & 16th looks to me to be either folks living in the SROs of folks commuting from somewhere.

    At the risk of sounding like a racist (I’m not, i just walk through there every day and the shit is up in my face every day)….it’s a primarily African American crowd over there, and as we all know, the hood has no significant Black community.

    i have no idea if the Mission gangs are the suppliers, but the street action looks imported to me.

  10. Allan Hough says:

    elly and MrPoopyCaca, looks like you guys need to start reading Mission Mission more often.

  11. Allan Hough says:

    zinzin, I talked to Captain Tacchini for a bit. He acknowledged that SROs are a big part of the problem on that block, but was mum about any plans to change things.

  12. meave says:

    I’m a white girl hipster, and if I weren’t out of town I would’ve been at this meeting with my partner. We want to settle down here long-term, we both love the neighborhood, and I resent feeling unsafe in my home.

    Check out the Mission Community Council if you want to stay more informed about the neighborhood and how you can be involved in improvement &c. And voting is so easy, if you’re really lazy just register permanent absentee and your ballot will always come to you.

  13. zinzin says:

    hey thanks Allan.

    Tacchini from what i understand is a bit…uh…politically disadvantaged, career-wise.

    also, per other posts, the SROs are a MASIVELY political issue…all tied up in the bullshit “progressive” machine (ie Chris Daly et al)…

    so changing them will be hard.

    i’m not a violent guy (anymore), and i admit i have really vivid fantasies involving those SROs ans some high powered explosives.

    we’d empty them out first, of course.

  14. liz says:

    I fall in to the category of young-white-gentrifying-person, but I would have really liked to be at the meeting. Unfortunately, I had to work until 5:30. I’m not the first or last to say this, but violence isn’t good for anyone in the city, no matter which demographic we fit. So without discussion of whether it’s the hipsters or the undocumented or the East Bay thugs who are screwing up the neighborhood, what else can I actually do as a resident (Spanish-speaking even), to be actively involved in changing things? Suggestions would be most welcome.

  15. Allan Hough says:

    liz, get out there and meet your neighbors. Being bilingual, you’re in a unique position to meet a lot of people.

  16. raimondo says:

    another meeting about rampant violence that DA Harris avoided attending? guess she’s not really running for mayor anymore.

    and please please please stop with the ‘white hipster gentrification’ party line – it’s starting to sound like the mission antidisplacement coaltion nuts who shoot themselves in the foot everytime there’s a decent proposal for mixed-use low income housing in the neighborhood (remember the armory proposal?) it’s so retro “third world” politics. the mission, BTW was an irish, Norwegian, German, and Italian neighborhood before the Latinos moved in. So who exactly has been displaced?

  17. ct says:

    Hipsterism is a red herring — the problem with hipsters is not that they’re hipsters, but they they are young and move around a lot. They come to the city, stay a couple years, and go somewhere else. In this respect they’re just like most other, less hip, college graduates.

    But if you consider yourself a temporary resident, you tend not to put as much effort into plugging into your neighborhood — getting to know the neighbors, the people who run the local businesses, etc.

    The last one of these flare-ups was 4 or 5 years ago, and this won’t be the last either. It trivializes the problems to say that they can all be solved by talking to your neighbors — but talking to your neighbors does help other things, including getting the word out about problems in the community.

  18. zinzin says:

    i think those are all strong points.

    for me, the only real reason to maybe bash the stereotype of a “hipster” more than any other – ironic plaid pants notwithstanding…and the handlebar mustaches wtf? – is the apathy issue. the whole “lazy self-satisfied baby” thing.

    hipsters tend to have strong opinions but little follow-through.

    any my fear is, via that laziness, they’ll buy into the guilty liberal thing and vote for who the SFBG tells them to. or Pirate Cat Radio, for god sakes. or, even worse i guess, not vote at all.

    but i agree with ct, it’s the nature of the transient. some will stay, and some will achieve their generally-main-stream goals and move on up to whiteyville. most do.

    anyways, please, hipsters, truly i love you. transient or not, handlebar moustache or not. i am among your numbers. you are the reason i’ve lived in the hood since 1991… because with you comes good coffee and fun bars. if i harsh on you it’s because there is so much potential for the “hipster” community to improve our hood…and so little activity or involvement.

    please, if you live in the Mission in November….please, GET SMART AND VOTE!

  19. ct says:

    Yeah, I hear what you’re saying. To clarify a little, I also feel like it’s a waste of time to try to blame hipsters, since you’ll never find anyone in the city who will cop to actually being one: there are no guilty men in Shawshank, and no hipsters in the Mission. So blame, in this case, just results in everyone assuming it’s somebody else’s problem. Better to focus on what can be done.

  20. zinzin says:

    ct totally agree…

    that being said…Ha. I’m a hipster. An aging hipster (oxymoron?).

    Me & all my friends qualify.