Phil Bronstein tries to scare us straight

[pic from @PhilBronstein]

The former Chronicle editor paints a dark picture of The Mission in his new column on SFGate, saying about violence allegedly perpetrated by local MS-13 members, “If they don’t shoot straight, though, the next news story might be about you.” He goes through the current MS-13 trial, commenting on their Disney-esque nicknames, Tweety, Spooky, Goofy and Droopy, while just two months ago he patrolled our streets on a serious mission with Guardian Angels like Scorpion, Puma, Robo Cop and Maverick.

We all know there is a violence problem in our neighborhood. A lot of us just live with it, hoping we don’t get caught in the above mentioned crossfire. But like I said before, it’s our neighborhood, we do have a responsibility to look out for each other. I can appreciate that Mr. Bronstein wants us to understand the gravity of the situation, but I feel like the harshness of the language (like the title, right out the gate, The murderous gangs that stalk the Mission) creates a sense of a divide, when in fact we’re all living with it, those of us that live here. The divide is real, I don’t pretend to think that MS-13 members meet up in Bar Bambino or stop by Self Edge for some new jeans. I guess I just tend to think that it’s more helpful when speaking to a broad audience to speak in a way that seems to head towards a better understanding, rather than fear.

I agree that people who perpetuate violence aren’t “charming and colorful piece[s] of the neighborhood tapestry, like the murals on Balmy Alley”, but separating them from the rest of the people who live here, and preventing more people from turning to violence, isn’t as easy as any of us would like to think. No matter where we want to draw the divide, the fact is that we all influence each other, and solving these problems is an ongoing process.

16 Responses to “Phil Bronstein tries to scare us straight”

  1. Well said. The big problem with Bronstein’s piece is that he has nothing to offer except ‘look out for the bad guys’, when what we need more of is what you suggest: “look out for each other”. Fear vs. care.

    • Brock Keeling says:

      His job isn’t to tell others how to FEEL about their fellow man or grave situations. His job is to report. Whatever feelings arise from his words are beyond his control… at least in this case, anyway.

      • Obviously, I don’t agree. One reason is, Bronstein’s columns appear on the “Opinion” page of The Chronicle. He’s not an ordinary reporter, and he does enjoy the opportunity to tell other people how to feel on a regular basis. And, in this particular case, I think he was telling people how to feel. Here’s an example:

        “The original 29 – others have pleaded guilty – use nicknames like Tweety, Spooky, Goofy and Droopy. While they may sound like the dark side of Disneyland, they represent something much more sinister. “Capone” and “Psycho” tell the story better.”

        Really? OK, I guess if I wasn’t scared before, I’m pretty goddam scared now. Thanks, Phil! Any idea what I should do? No? Demand that the city fund a Guardian Angel program for problem street corners, maybe?

        Look, Brock, I can understand how you, as someone in a semi-comparable position at SFist to that held by Bronstein at The Chronicle, might feel uncomfortable about OP/ED writers being held accountable for their agendas, but I don’t think that’s a legitimate reason to jump in here.

        • Brock Keeling says:

          Ha! I didn’t catch that it was under op/ed. Er…my apologies. (In the end, though, it’s a good piece, I think.)

  2. Tuffy says:

    Sorry, I’m not taking a bullet for you.

  3. SCUM says:

    I wish a group of rouge cops would just wipe these pieces of shit off the face of the earth.

    • Think_for_me says:

      Fuck tha poleez…citizens should arm themselves. Why place your trust your safety to another?

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      I choose to believe that “rouge cops” are police officers wearing way, way too much make-up.

  4. phil bronstein says:

    I agree with Ariel Dovas’ view that “solving these problems is an ongoing process,” though I also believe that process ought to involve not just Mission residents. In the meantime, the problem itself should be defined for those not familiar with it.

    Even people supporting the defendants in the MS-13 case acknowledge the brutality of what gang members call their “work.”

    The trial certainly is peeling back layers of that work and that life. But even if the government proves a criminal conspiracy, the underlying issues remain.

    I covered the Salvadoran civil war and understand these kids are the descendants of that bloody upheaval — lots of lethal skills with nowhere to use them.

    If I’d had a brilliant solution, I would have offered it.

    But I still believe the situation itself is worth noting. And in language that fits the crime scene photos.

    • “In the meantime, the problem itself should be defined for those not familiar with it.”

      I think you did alright for half of the problem (the half that FOX NEWS usually covers anyway), and Ariel covered the other half, which doesn’t get covered much at all. But that’s just my cranky old liberal take on things.

      Still waiting for the news coverage of the “crime scene photos” to catch up with the language of your editorials.

      Not waiting at all for solutions, — duh! — suggestions that don’t involve former jailbird militia would be just fine.

      I really don’t see what purpose the constant media fear-mongering is serving, aside from the sale of more newspapers and the eye-scans of more web ads.

    • Ariel Dovas says:

      Thanks for responding. I think that the gruesome nature of these crimes is the easiest part of the situation for people to understand, and may well be as far as most get in to it. That allows for a lot of jumping to conclusions that is frightening. I don’t know much about the trials, I haven’t followed them very closely. I’m just writing as a resident who is concerned about not just the violence, but the reactions of other residents, and the broader community.

      I’m glad that people are willing to deal with the criminal behavior, but I personally tend to focus more on addressing the root causes. It just seems like people could react to this behavior with more attention to intervening with susceptible populations before they become involved, and that’s not something that we can or should frighten them into.

  5. marcos says:

    The only interest the SF Chronicle has in our neighborhood is to encourage the tsunami of luxury condos.

    • Ben says:

      is this for real or just riffing on what the politically left equivalent of a tea party member would sound like

    • Stephen says:

      We will all be crushed by this onslaught of luxury condos!

  6. Nipsaaaay Rustle says:

    Guardian Angels have always been MAD bogus, from Sliwa on down the liiii-ine (sung to G & R Mr. Brownstone). Ya feel me.