People drink at the corner of 22nd and Bartlett every day, but last Friday at 7:50 p.m. the drinking ended with a 21-year-old man being stabbed in the back multiple times, police said.
The alcohol-fueled aggravated assault is one of many that occur every week in the Mission, a neighborhood popular for its bars and its tolerance for public drinking.
Even though these kinds of incidents are common, there’s little police can do to thwart them, said SFPD spokesman Albie Esparza.
“There are too many people drinking in the Mission for police to spend their time dealing with them,” Esparza said.
Esparza explained that police will arrest and ticket for drinking, but they often have to deal with more serious incidents, like robberies and assaults.
Police enter the scene when public drinking escalates into violence or when someone calls the police to make a complaint about noise or other unruly behavior.
This happens most often on Mission and 16th Street, Bartlett and 21st, and Shotwell.
Friday’s incident was a case in which people were drinking as they do on any other day, but then a fight began and quickly escalated. The victim had to be taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police arrested two suspects in the case.
In another recent incident, a man was attacked in his sleep in Lilac Alley off 24th Street. That assault happened on a corner known for public drinking.
The Mission’s drinking culture leaves police in a quandary because it is difficult to monitor and prevent public drinking when so much goes on. “These are adults drinking,” said Esparza. “In Dolores Park we would spend all our time giving citations.”
Besides, “people hide their alcohol when they see police,” he continued.
At places where large crowds gather on the weekends, police can’t ask everyone who is drinking to leave — only those who are obviously intoxicated or making excessive noise, Esparza said.
Errors were made in the editing of this piece. They they have been corrected.