Grievances Surface at Community Forum Addressing Recent Violence

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En Español.

Community members voiced a variety of concerns about long-term safety in the Mission District at a public meeting Monday night, four days after a shooting by a police officer catalyzed a string of violent protests in the neighborhood.

About 100 community members gathered at the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center and cited a host of grievances regarding police response to the weekend violence, ranging from insufficient police patrols in public spaces to a lack of youth outreach and support.

Violence erupted over the weekend after an unidentified officer shot 22-year Norteño gang member Oscar Barceñas, who police say brandished a semiautomatic handgun. At a town hall meeting earlier on Monday, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said that Barceñas may have been planning to retaliate for a fatal shooting on Sept. 16 near Garfield Square. Barceñas’ injuries were not life-threatening.

Mission Station Capt. Robert Moser said Monday evening that increased police presence — in the form of foot patrols, gang enforcement officers and plainclothes officers — is helping to mitigate violence in the area. Suhr added that the recent spurt of violence was gang-specific, not random, and that the Mission is a safe, vibrant place.

But some Mission residents said that the police department and City Hall can do more, and pushed to permanently increase patrols in public spaces like parks, where unsavory characters often linger.

“At Rolph Park, I have found needles,” said Mission resident and mother Ceci Gutierrez. “People are so drunk, they are urinating, and the kids are seeing that.”

One audience member — to the dismay of a majority of the crowd — claimed that the community is unsafe due to “lazy,” violence-prone street youth, who, he believes, should be denied housing rights in the district.

“Why can’t the rules be followed? Let’s get these people out,” he said. “Let’s kick them and their families out and put people who really need that housing.”

Ricardo Garcia-Acosta of Northwest Community Response Network asked the audience to consider the plight of kids who live in rough conditions before painting them as “monsters, villains or criminals.”

“We’re not talking about how kids are being disconnected from the school system and how third, fourth and fifth-graders are already identifying more with the streets than they identify with their classroom or teachers,” Garcia-Acosta said.

“It’s hard to have self-respect when you grow up in a broken home and you have limited resources in the community that’s rapidly changing. And all you have to grow up to is Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj as your heroes. It’s really sad.”

Community activist Susana Rojas echoed the sentiment, and added that residents should volunteer with community organizations that seek to engage youth productively.

“Please remember that our kids are suffering from PTSD because there’s a lot of violence,” Rojas said. “So don’t vilify them … some of them are making those choices, but not all of them.”

Mission resident Roberto Hernandez said he has attended 50 meetings about community deaths, and that the meetings often promote short-term solutions to long-term problems.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” he said. “We go into crisis mode, we get more cops, it goes away and business is back as usual. This community has struggled to make changes, but it hasn’t been enough … I’ve buried too many kids in this barrio … I’m hurt.”

The most tense moment occurred when an audience member claimed that the officer involved in Thursday’s shooting should be held accountable for “shooting our kids down,” and loudly exited the room.

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33 Comments

  1. Pamela

    The person who said that these people should be removed from the neighborhood is spot on. Clear out the Mission of these thugs & their families watch crime go down. Why should law abiding citizens of District 9 have to be daily subjected to trash, criminal behavior? As for the advocates, they are primarily poverty enablers. So a person is poor, that automatically makes it ok to be a gang banger or commit crimes or blight the neighborhood you live in?

    • randolph mortimer

      Yes, in San Francisco, being poor or homeless is a magical ticket to do whatever you want, especially commit quality of life crimes on a daily basis. It’s unclear what to do about it though, since citations seem to be pointless and the police and criminal justice system are tied up with the children shooting each other or mugging people for their smartphones (although they don’t seem to be doing very well with the latter these days).

    • suburbanite

      Coming back to my Tenderloin apartment (used to live in the Mission) from my first trip around NYC this weekend makes this just stand out as that much more true. NYC cracked down on quality of life crimes. Now I walk around SF, and really notice how much trash is on the streets, how much it smells like pee, how many crackheads you see (openly smoking) everywhere…

      • Jay

        I just got back from NYC last night and SF is MUCH cleaner. BUT, there is a much more serious homeless problem in SF. That I agree with…

    • lench

      So we should just send our problems to someone elses neighborhood or city? Get real yuppie

      • Soonerdiver

        No ‘lench’ you crack down on the idiots that are doing the crap! It worked in NYC and it damn sure worked in New Orleans. It used to be walking down Bourbon Street you could see and smell everything under the sun in doorways, alleys and in some case right on the streets and sidewalks.

        After the NOLA PD cracked down and cleaned up their city it was like night and day. But then they had replaced their Police Chief and got someone in who care about the city he swore to protect. If memory serves me the Chief is a native from NOLA! That makes a big difference it would seem.

        • Jay

          To be fair, that was a privatized sanitation, not police, that made that happen in NOLA. It was also post-Katrina, so they had other issues and couldn’t operate their own sanitation.

  2. randolph mortimer

    Campos’ expression in the first picture is priceless – he looks about as displeased with the meeting as many neighborhood residents are with his performance as supervisor.

  3. pete

    Time for Campos to go

  4. Again the community has spoken loud and clear.

    It’s the cops fault. It’s the gentrification. It’s the hipsters (white people). It’s the lack of programs. It’s the lack of money. It’s the lack of schools. It’s the lack of affordable housing. Everyone points their finger in another direction.

    We spend billions on the problem.

    And so it goes.

    These kids have guns. We don’t.

    And so it goes.

    -Disarm the Mission.

    • To all of you aliens in the Mission, are you part of the solution or part of the problem? Besides whining, about “your” new neighborhood, what are you doing about it?

      Obviously, you have overlooked the fact that we live in one of the most violent countries in the world. Have you asked yourselves, why it is that you could buy a gun on many street corners? Absolutely, DISARM THE USA, how about that one?

      Poverty, disenfranchisement, PTSD, violence are NATIONAL urban plagues. How are you and the aliens to our community being part of the solution? It is a complex set of urban ills, that have been part of the history of not just this neighborhood, but any urban city, USA.

      We, as community members, have been working on solutions here, all of our lives, and will continue to work on it. It is the sentiment of Pamela, and other aliens to our community that make us sick! When you move into a neighborhood like the Mission, you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and work with us or leave! You’re not in Kansas anymore, and this sure ain’t Noe Valley.

      We love the vibrancy and life of the MISSION, we have been here for generations, we are proud to say that we are not just the CITY, but especially from the MISSION. The grit is part of the charm. Should people piss on the streets, hell no. Wash the front of your property, or storefront. Should people smoke crack, hell no. People got to work on it.

      Either you help, or get out. Stop your fricken whining.

      • buzzgirl

        I agree, Dinorah. I have lived in the Mission since 1993, and frankly, until all the family displacement through the influx of those who think because they have money they are entitled (that being the key word) to push out long time residents, the violence problem was significantly less.

      • turnemout

        Wow. For working on ‘solutions’ all of your lives you sure don’t have much to show for it, do you? It might be time for a new approach, no?

      • randolph mortimer

        Instead of ‘aliens’ just say ‘white people’, we all know that’s what you mean.

      • Dave the neighbor

        Wow. Really? You know nothing about the people posting here – you just tell them they aren’t welcome in *your* neighborhood?
        We’re talking about a murder! A murder in broad daylight on a Sunday, next to a playground. And you call people who object to that whiners and tell them to get out of the Mission?!
        I really hope this isn’t the way you teach your students at Horace Mann. I have a daughter at Flynn (and she was born and raised in *your* neighborhood – I guess she doesn’t belong) – the teachers there teach inclusion, not your style of exclusion. You should try it.

        • Hey Dave,

          Jesus Solis was my 6th grade student,as had been his brother and sister. It broke my heart to go to his to his wake and to hug his mother and say, I am so sorry for your loss. Have you ever had to do that? I was accompanied by his pre-k, kinder, 1st grade teacher, do you know how it feels to go and see your student laying in a coffin?

          You obviously, don’t understand the root of poverty, or the reasons why young people turn to gangs, as an extension to families that might be in crisis. Or the way that PTSD, or the way gentrification pushed out lower and middles class working families out of homes they have lived in for generations. But that doesn’t matter I guess.

          If your daughter is born and raised in the Mission, then it would be her neighborhood, wouldn’t you think?

          What I say in a public forum, where everyone is entitled to our point of view, is just that. I am a professional, and I practice inclusion, patience, love, understanding and hours of unpaid work, to teach students like Jesus, and daughters like yours.

          • Blurpy

            It’s only “your” neighborhood if you own the property there. Sad, but that’s how the market works, those are the rules that we ALL have to follow. If you don’t keep up, you get pushed out.

            The Mission, or any other neighborhood for that matter, doesn’t really “belong” to anyone, you’re basically just borrowing it for as long as you can or want.

          • turnemout

            So you’re basically a Norteno apologist. Great. I’m sure your principal would love to read your ‘point of view’.

          • You practice inclusion when you call people ‘aliens’?

      • randolph mortimer

        I also find it ironic that you exhort the “aliens” to help with the neighborhood while simultaneously demonstrating some pretty deep seated hostile racism towards them.

      • BVHM Parent

        Personally I think we’re lucky to live in an economically diverse community. Too many places are purely plm (people like me) neighborhoods.

        Poor neighborhoods have little access to people with resources and opportunities. Rich neighborhoods have no understanding or need to understand the plight of the poor.

        I sent my child to BVHM so he could be part of a program committed to everyone succeeding together.

        I employ kids from neighborhood to provide opportunity and positive role models.

        You so called community leaders should look to the opportunities that “gentrification” can provide rather than just dismissing it as disenfranchisement.

        This is the second BVHM staff person I’ve heard take this tone and I’m seriously dismayed.

      • I am NOT an alien just because I look white. I never called anyone else here an alien. I speak Spanish, I lived in Mexico. My parents lived here, My grandparents lived here. My grandfather fought the fire here in 1906. I have lived here most of my life. So you really don’t know me.

        Just because I don’t want our neighbor kids to kill each other doesn’t make me some kind of white devil gentrifier.

        I hope you don’t teach your students to think like this because it is wrong.

  5. SafeStreets

    @Pamela — right on.

  6. ULA

    4:00@24th and mission UNITED PLAYAZ WILL BE STARTING AMARCH THAT WILL END AT TREAT ST. WHERE JESUS WAS SHOT. SILENCE THE VIOLENCE. COME OUT TOMORROW AND ALL WO HAVE A POST ON HERE PUT YOUR OPPIONS OUT WHERE U WILL TRULY BE HEARD

  7. Sam

    To the commenter who wrote that it is only your neighborhood if you own it. If I own it and dint live there is it really my neighborhood more than a renter who lives there?

  8. Francisco Mission

    Blurpy, your a god damn yuppie. The neighborhood is of those that live there and most property owners dont even live in the City.
    Turnerout, u said someone is a Norteno Apologist? R U kidding me? What does that even mean? U know a Norteno is an identity for Northern Californian Hispanic men right? and not necessarily a gang.
    Fred Sharples, I like what u said about the MIssion is in your heart and thats what counts Amen. but u cant disarm the Mission, u cant disarm the City, u cant disarm the state and u defiantly cant disarm America. Having guns is a fundamental right in this country and the Mission residents should be afforded that same right.
    Come on people, lets not ignore the elephant in the room here. The Hispanic Norteno-Sureno California civil war thats been raging for the last 50 in the prisons and on the streets of California.
    This war has taken thousands of victims and is the root cause of violence in the Mission and the state.
    U can have all the after school programs u want, u can hire all the cops u can afford, u can disarm the Mission(in theory) but that still wont stop the violence because there still us a CIVIL WAR going in that involves every single municipality and county in the state of California. The longer u ignore the worst its gonna get.

    • Blurpy

      Francisco, it’s “you’re,” as in “you are a yuppie.” And for the record, I’m not a yuppie, I’m just a realist. I don’t own property, I rent, and I don’t even rent in the “yuppie” part of the Mission, I live on the east side. And my building isn’t even a nice one!

      Here’s the deal. If someone owns the house you’re living in, they can tell you when you can stay and when you can go. If someone owns your neighbor’s house, the same applies to them, and the same applies to all the businesses that are owned by someone other than those that run said businesses.

      Tell me this, Francisco: Who has control over whether a “yuppie” moves into the Mission? It’s not really the yuppie, since that person needs to fill out a rental application and get approved, just like anyone else.

      It’s the property owner. And it doesn’t matter if they live here or not, they’re in charge. So if you are sick of seeing “goddamned yuppies,” don’t be mad at the yuppies, be mad at the folks that rented to them and sold property to them. It is a free country, after all.

      Basic, simple, economic fact: if you want to claim ownership, real ownership, you BUY YOUR HOME. If you own the property, you have a much stronger effect on what goes on around you.

Comments are closed.