UPDATE, 12:09 p.m. Oct. 16: The Recreation and Parks Department has confirmed that, effective immediately, no adult permits will be issued for use of the soccer field at Mission Playground, though youth league permits will still be available until 7:00 p.m. every day.
Rec and Park general manager Phil Ginsburg said he would make the soccer field at Mission Playground unavailable for reservations, according to Oscar Grande, the vice president of political affairs for the Latino Democratic Club.
Grande’s announcement on Wednesday night was enough for a victory celebration among those attending the club’s meeting at 518 Valencia Street. Ginsburg could not be reached for comment and Grande’s assertion could not be independently confirmed.
The alleged victory came after a video recorded Dropbox employees clashing with a youth team at the Mission Playground’s soccer field. The Dropbox team had purchased a permit to play on the field for $27 an hour and the youth team had been accustomed to playing under a free rotation system that allowed everyone a chance on the field.
The standoff – it ended peacefully – was recorded by one of the youth team’s members and came after weeks of frustration about being asked to leave the field.
One of the youths who refused to leave the field told Wednesday night’s meeting that he had been kicked in the back by one of the permitted players after the two groups decided to each take a half of the field. The man allegedly said he had intended to kick a soccer ball next to the youth, but missed.
Those attending the meeting expressed outrage and after several members of the club encouraged him to do so, the youth said he is now considering pressing charges. Either way, he intends to continue to be part of the protests against the park policy.
“I’m not going down without a fight,” he said.
Grande, Edwin Lindo, vice president of external affairs for the Latino Democratic Club and others at Wednesday’s meeting said the viral video that sparked the controversy served to draw attention to an ongoing clash between locals who feel they are being ousted by newcomers who are able to pay for resources that used to be free.
“Tomorrow is systemic,” Lindo said in reference to Thursday’s planned protest at City Hall.
The protest will focus on the citywide reservation policy, make an explicit call for ending permitting at Mission Playground, which Lindo again confirmed this morning that Ginsburg had made. He added, however, that the other demands had not been agreed on.
Those include the following, which were issued in a press release:
– Create Park & Rec community council based on city districts that determine the programming and staffing regarding parks in the district. This council must implement a community process that will allow for community feedback. Rec & Park Dept. shall not interfere with the final decision of the councils; they can however, provide guidance of capacity and rules.
– Better park patrol response to parks and recreation centers to address safety Concerns. There are large concerns of unsafe playing conditions both on the field pertaining to maintenance and off the field pertaining to public safety.
– Ensure equity among neighborhood parks. Disclosure of financial investments made in each park and recreation center throughout the city.
– Identify each violation of the San Francisco Language Access Ordinance and within 6 months, ensure that San Francisco Rec & Park Dept. is no longer in violation.
– A follow up meeting with the youth and the community regarding the above.
Dropbox, implicit in the controversy because several members of the permitted team depicted in the video were wearing Dropbox T-shirts, issued an apology along with one of its employees. The youths, addressing the Latino Democratic club, said that wasn’t enough.
“I want an apology to my face,” said one.
From the community, the youth said, they just want support going forward with their activism: “Just help us lead.”