While many Mission residents are calling for more police on the streets, some residents said Monday that such tactics will target youth and immigrants.

Anna Levitt, 25, and 28-year-old Pati Zapatita, who refused to give her real name, joined the newly formed 21st and Bryant Neighborhood Alliance at the Pirate Cat Café with their concerns.

“I’m not convinced that they’re interested in the equal safety of everyone in this neighborhood,” said Levitt, an energy engineer who recently moved from Bernal Heights.

As the meeting started inside, neighbors drank coffee and made themselves comfortable on the couch and around tables at the café on 21st and Bryant streets. Outside, the woman who called herself Zapatita handed out flyers that read “Stop the creation of a gentrifying ‘Neighborhood Watch Group’ and increased policing in the Mission.”

“I looked at the board of directors and there wasn’t a community organization,” Levitt said of the crime prevention organization, “it makes you wonder what they’re trying to make you safe from.”

The board includes Wells Fargo, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Walgreens.

David Mangot, who the neighborhood group chose a few weeks ago as its block captain, said that he wants to work with community organizations and that they should discuss this once the association got going. At his request,  Jon Shepherd, public safety coordinator for the nonprofit organization Safety Awareness For Everyone, attended Monday’s meeting to facilitate conversations among neighbors.

Zapatita had the strongest views on an increase in police. “I’m afraid that if there is more police there will be more police brutality like in Oakland and San Jose,” she told the group of some 20 residents.

San Jose had 10.7 complaints per 10,000 calls for service in 2006, compared to 11.2 per 10,000 calls for service in 2007, according to the office of the independent police auditor in San Jose.

The Office of Citizen complaints and the Department of Emergency Management in San Francisco reported 9.1 complaints per 10,000 calls in 2006 and seen complaints per 10,000 calls in 2007.

San Jose has dramatically fewer police per 1,000 residents than San Francisco—1.54 to 2.98 according to the most recent FBI report released in 2004. In 2007, there were 33 murders in San Jose and a ten-year high of 98 in San Francisco.

Shepherd acknowledged Zapatita’s concerns as well as arguments raised by other neighbors who want an increase in police. He suggested inviting the police captain to the following meeting.

“The first impulse is to call the police,” Zapatita said. She’d like to see that change, and see more funding go to education programs and community organizations such as HOMEY—Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth.

Some neighborhood associations, Shepherd said, work with community organizations.

“No one gets through life alone,” Shepherd said. The group needs to figure out what they want to do as an association, he added.

Mangot said the group will soon have a forum where everyone will be able to suggest what they want to do going forward. Shepherd will ask Captain Stephen Tacchini of the Mission police station to join the next meeting on Oct. 27.

Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor at Berkeley’s J-school until 2019. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. The Tribune...

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