SFPD stations will hang Black Lives Matter posters
Protesters gather at Mission Station on Saturday, 5-30-20. Photo by Julian Mark

Mission Captain Gavin McEachern has requested permanent fortifications of the Valencia Street station — an upgrade from the metal barricades that have stood on the sidewalk for the past two years, and a nightmare for public space and disability advocates. 

For a department dedicated to community policing, barricades send a pointed us-versus-them message.

“Why do they feel that creating a barricade between themselves and the community members, who they claim to serve and protect, why [do] they feel like that’s necessary?” asked Luke Bornheimer, an organizer with Community Spaces SF. 

This week, Bornheimer asked the station captain when the barricades would be removed and, to his surprise, he was told that the police don’t intend for the gates to be temporary. 

“I can tell you that we have asked for a more permanent and atheistically [sic] pleasing replacement for these barricades, but as of yet our requests to the City have been ignored,” wrote McEachern in an email response to Bornheimer. 

As protests erupted worldwide in the days after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police in May, 2020, San Francisco police gated off the tiny amount of public, walkable space available in front of its station, ostensibly to protect Mission Station from the public. 

Some of the Mission District protests in 2020 got “volatile,” McEachern told Mission Local. “No other stations are the focus of anti-police type groups.” 

However, in covering the protests against police violence, there have been no reports of any injuries of SFPD officers in front of the station. The last protest at Mission Station was in 2021.  

In February, Bornhiemer, who lives in the neighborhood and said he walks along 17th Street and Valencia Street regularly, first asked 311 to remove the barricades. He was told in a relayed message from a police officer that the fencing was still “there for the ongoing protests.” 

In a conversation with Mission Local, McEachern said he put the station under lockdown two or three times this year, including during the peaceful Trans March last month. “You never know what’s going to happen on any given day,” he said, so he wasn’t sure whether removing and reassembling the gates as needed was a good idea. 

He said the barriers still serve a purpose in “protecting the officers,” even though they weren’t originally envisioned as a permanent addition to the station. He believes there are cost limitations to putting up the more artistic, permanent barriers that he wanted.

Talika Fletcher, Roger Allen’s younger sister, speaks to police through a bullhorn. Photo by Julian Mark.

Meanwhile, residents like Bornheimer say any barrier at all diminishes and restricts public space. Not to mention, it illustrates the police department’s apparent lack of trust in the community.

In the first iteration of the barrier, pedestrians were shunted into the street, forced to walk alongside cars and bikes, or cross to the other side. Eventually, the barriers were moved to allow sidewalk access. But even today, pedestrians are trapped on the block until they have passed the station entirely. 

Barriers such as the ones around Mission Station aren’t new; McEachern said they’ve surrounded City Hall and the Hall of Justice. And just last week, Supervisor Hillary Ronen had fences put up to block vendor access to the 24th Street BART plazas. 

McEachern said that Bornheimer’s request earlier this week was the first complaint he’d received about the barricades since he took over as station captain late last year. Though he had asked about making the barriers permanent, he said that he is currently deciding what to do with them next. 

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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17 Comments

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  1. Just move the station off Valencia where it interrupts an otherwise continuous flow of shops and restaurants.

  2. If society allows riots in cities that ups the us vs them tenor and thus the police feel under siege. I don’t like riots and gangsters with lots of guns roaming around our cities or coming in to cause problems. We citizens need to lower acceptability of protestors to use violence.

  3. I’m sure SFFD will rush to support the cops on this, even though at other locations residents/businesses are not allowed to wall of the sidewalk from the street because of the need for emergency access.

    Though there are still quite a number of “shared” spaces structures that are not in compliance, the regulations are really clear:

    3-foot emergency access gap
    For safety, you must have a minimum 3-foot emergency access gap for every 20 feet. The gap must be open to the sky.

    The barricades “protecting” SFPD from the people they serve and who pay their salary not only don’t have the access gap. They are also zip tied together, so you can’t just move them to gain access.

    There is a fire hydrant toward the southern end of that Trumpish wall of safety that is blocked by the connected barricades. If a cop has a heart attack at the station or it bursts in to flames, it seems to me the cops won’t want anyone to show up and help.

    1. the cops could even put up permanent fencing (not that they should) that does have such gaps, making it much easier for them to secure themselves by blocking the gaps if violent rioters show up

  4. I thought it was the SFPD’s job to serve and protect the residents of this city not to shut the public out in order to be protected from them. That barricade acts as a dividing wall and creates an us VS. them situation that this city should not be accepting of.

  5. Mission Station is the only police station in the city that draws protests. Even if they have nothing to do with the topic of the protests. Imagine going to work everyday not knowing if the building that you work in will be under seige. Let the captain of Mission Station decide how he should protect it. Oh yeah, the fence at 24th and Mission BART station was put up by a directive from Supervisor Hillary Ronen. It has nothing to do with the police. Don’t get it twisted folks.

  6. Here’s a challenge, Captain,

    Get the Mayor to put a toilet station there or in front of Thrift store across street for Tourists visiting Clarion Gallery Alley.
    I’ve gone through several hundred pounds of Kitty litter sanitizing the roadway there which I consider the floor of a gallery.

    That Alley should be cobblestoned as should the alleys off Mission and 24th where they are erecting fencing instead.

    Crazy world.

    Go McKinley Goldbugs for my 60th graduation Party !!!

    h.

  7. We should knock down the Mission cop shop and replace it with the Pepsi distribution facility that was there before.

  8. With this and the 24th St. Station, the cops want to intentionally stop the people from using public space.

    Yeah… the cops totally have the people’s best interests at heart.🙄

  9. We hear constantly from London Breed that the city will “meet people where they are.” Barricades signal that the police station is an armed camp. It is time to get serious about the quality of life crimes in the Mission – the drug dealing, the gangs, the fencing, the chronic tent encampments that house chop shops and aggressive chronically homeless people.

  10. The Barricades at 24th street Mission have made the situation worse, the vendors haven’t left and are now encroaching further on sidewalk, making it more difficult to walk in that area, it would be a nightmare to leave them up permanently.
    I know this is a difficult situation, but so far passing new ordinances and building barricades are not working, couldn’t a couple of beat cops patrol the place every couple of hours? The vendors are not dangerous people, how hard is it to police the area properly, barricades and regulations will not be effective and will punish the residents who are using the area as it was intended.

    1. I agree, it seems they only check vendors legal right to sell there a couple times a week. What a stupid way to deal with a problem that is not that hard if you do it right.

  11. I believe we should let the SFPD decide the issue, in the interests of their safety. While there have not been any reported instances of police being injured in front of the station, I would trust their judgment more than the socialist progressives who want them taken down. After all, these same “do gooders” want to defund the police anyway .

  12. “But even today, pedestrians are trapped on the block until they have passed the station entirely.”

    Uh….well, given that there are no crosswalks or parking on that stretch of Valencia, and J-walking is illegal, there is no reason that the barricade would “trap” anyone.

    1. Dr Logic here to say that, jaywalking is “illegal” in the same way that the barricades “trap” pedestrians.