A Dolores Park visitor who took video of a confrontation between his friends and some parks enforcement officers who cited them for playing amplified music says he could have handled the situation better.
Matthew Card, who recorded an encounter with Recreation and Parks officer J. Chan after being cited for playing amplified music, said he and his friends are now thinking about ways they can help contribute to keeping the park clean, like organizing a cleanup crew. But they still have some reservations about the way the park rules were enforced.
“The more I think about it, the more I know and admit that I could have handled the situation better,” Card wrote. “I think we reacted the way we did because the officers came up to us out of nowhere and ticketed us right off the bat, but continued to exclaim they were there to clean up the trash.”
Card and his friends had brought a laptop and a mixer to the park and were playing music through a speaker. An argument then developed over whether or not the group could have a table in the park with them. Connie Chan, a spokesperson for Rec & Park, confirmed Card’s friend was cited for playing amplified music, and said that informing people about other rules they might be breaking is another part of a parks officer’s job.
“Our Park Patrol officers focus on outreach and education as well as issuing citations when people are warned and do not comply,” Chan wrote.
Rec & Park was unable to immediately arrange an interview with the parks officer in the video.
From Card’s perspective, enforcement still seems inconsistent.
“We weren’t doing anything anyone else wasn’t doing that day, so it was just really confusing,” Card wrote.
In fact, he took video that day of another group playing amplified music and recalled the parks officers talking with a different group of people selling hamburgers from a table. It’s not clear whether or not those vendors had a permit, though the park is known and, in many cases, sought out for its collection of unpermitted and sometimes illegally practicing vendors. They do sometimes get caught – among the 12 citations issued in Dolores Park that weekend, Chan wrote, some were for unauthorized vending.
Once the video was posted by KRON and SFIst, Card found himself inundated with criticism, and some sparse support, from media and readers who had watched his then public Facebook video of the incident. Some of it, he says, was unfounded.
“We’re not tech bros,” he wrote. “The group I was with represent a variety of backgrounds, some new to SF and some lifers, some gay and some straight and so on.”
For now, Card says he’s trying to put the whole incident behind him. The Facebook video has been removed, and he and his friends are thinking about ways to contribute to keeping the park in good shape, perhaps even finding a way to collect donations for Rec & Park.
“I care about SF and Dolores a lot, and it sucks that I went about this the wrong way,” he wrote. “So I guess moving forward, I’m going to approach this kind of thing differently and I’m just hoping the rangers do too.”