Abortion rights Park ranger Bike mechanic
Park Ranger James Horn takes issue with Tune-Ups for a Cause on Oct. 23

A strange confrontation broke out and, abruptly, ended Sunday, involving a San Francisco park ranger and a group of bike mechanics doing free work on JFK Drive and donating all tips to abortion-rights charities. 

Members of the group Tune-Ups For a Cause tell Mission Local that San Francisco park rangers told them that, if their colleague Roger Horn showed up, they should expect extreme scrutiny. And that happened.

Both the bike mechanics and passers-by took issue with Horn’s demeanor; eyewitness Olivia Ware said his behavior was “super gnarly, not professional and the worst stereotype of a cop.” 

She said she heard him clearly speak into his communication device that he had called the police department to put the man he identified as “the leader” of the bike mechanics “into a mental institution or jail.” 

At issue was that one mechanic, Joey Shemuel, declined to give Horn an ID when asked for it — and that his group did not have the necessary permitting. It’s not clear if Horn approached Shemuel because of his group’s focus on bikes or abortion rights, but Shemuel says he did not notice other vendors being approached by rangers for IDs or permits. 

Shemuel and others on-site say that Horn indicated to them that this refusal to produce an ID was what led to him moving to write them a citation. 

If so, that would be odd: Rangers are code-enforcement officers, so they can ask members of the public for an ID. But they are not law-enforcement officers, meaning that members of the public are not required to provide that ID. 

“You can’t impose your will on people,” confirmed former ranger Mike Horan. “People don’t have to give their identification to a sworn officer on the streets unless they can show probable cause. And that’s law enforcement. Rangers are not law enforcement.” 

Shemuel admitted to Mission Local that his group does not have a permit. But he provided an email chain indicating efforts to obtain one, and said that the Recreation and Parks Department permitting office has failed to return his inquiries since August. 

“The permitting office could’ve responded, and I could’ve been expected to follow whatever procedures they set, “Shemuel said. “Or, in the absence of a response, my good-faith effort should’ve been taken into account.”

Video captures Horn lecturing Shemuel on the necessity of providing an ID and getting permits as Shemuel packs up his equipment in preparation to leave. 

As the confrontation was ongoing, Mission Local called Recreation and Parks spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton for comment. Aparton then called Chief Park Ranger David Murphy. 

Murphy today confirmed that he phoned Horn on the scene on Sunday and “de-escalated” it: “Everything is back to quasi-normal. As normal as Golden Gate Park can be.” 

The Chief Ranger said he asked his deputy, “‘Do we really want to move forward with this?’ We came to the conclusion that these guys are breaking down their bike stands and packing up their stuff. They’re complying. We don’t need to push this any further.” 

Murphy told Mission Local that he is happy to provide what assistance he can in getting the bike mechanics their proper permits and situating them in a more appropriate location, and urged them to contact him. Shemuel said he appreciated the gesture and will take Murphy up on the offer.   

“Hindsight being 20/20, we probably should’ve just offered to work with them on this on Monday and getting them the permits they need,” Murphy said. “Did we handle this perfectly? No. Can we use this as a learning tool? Absolutely.” 

Murphy said he has not yet fully reviewed Horn’s bodycam footage and cannot speak to the appropriateness of his behavior. 

Shemuel said he’ll renew his quest for permitting today. “My guess is, because of the calls that were made, maybe this will sort of percolate down into the permitting office,” he said. “We weren’t blocking traffic. We didn’t have amplified sound. We’re just raising money for charity.”


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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. These Rangers don’t know what’s going on. They think they can do what ever they want. Theyist he stopped at all in costs.

  2. Well, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department park rangers are not law enforcement so they are Not allowed to use any force. They can ask for identification and/or information all they want, but they can not force anyone to actually give them any identification and/or information. In other words, they must have voluntary compliance to get identification/information. They must need identification documents and/or personal information to issue the citation for the alleged park code violation. If there is no citation, there is absolutely no need to identify except to compile personal information for unknown uses. Such an intolerable practice by these uniformed employees. People should realize not to voluntarily provide identification/personal information when asked. Their uniforms are meant to intimate people into compliance and do as they say. Just because they have on an uniform does not mean they will act on your best interest. Many times than not, it is the opposite. Theoretically, it is why there is the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments that must be adhered by all government employees.

  3. These San Francisco Park Rangers frequently acted outside their course of duties and their scope of code enforcement. They tried to “confiscate” people’s properties and holding it hostage until receipt of fine payment for allegedly violating a trivial SF Park Code. A few times already, SF Park Rangers were speeding through City streets violating multiple traffic laws (California Vehicle Code). The people demand that the uniforms, duty-belt equipment, and vehicles driven by these unsworn park rangers need to be significantly modified to appear less like actual law enforcement and be more community-friendly. Otherwise, we will just continue to see the excessive arbitrary enforcement, abuse of their position, and deception to deprive people’s rights.

  4. There’s always one bad egg out of every dozen. A free bike fix it with a donations cup place in the park on a weekend bike day shouldn’t be illegal period. If your a local you know the park is full of bikes on these days. They close down the streets for the family weekend bike ride days. Why sho uh ld you even have to have a permit ? Stupid .It sounds like the upright officer is exactly that and if he wasn’t checking in other booths ,maybe he has a issue with abortions? But basically he sounds like he profiled these good guys for his own egotistical purposes. It sounds like they were profiled and discriminated against. Why not a go fund me directed at helping these guys cover their permits like nice people should?

  5. The underlying principle applies wherever you go — small town in the Deep South or San Francisco. Some people simply should not be given authority over others, and too many of them wear uniforms. In fact, many cops and other uniformed “officers” could not attain a position responsibility over others in ANY OTHER WAY.

  6. I witnessed this interaction as it was happening (and my brake pads were being cleaned). This officer was rude and aggressive. These folks have been out here about once a month since the Dobbs decision came down, raising money for abortion access funds and helping the community. They weren’t selling anything, accepting any $$ personally, or even promoting their services elsewhere. We as a society have to acknowledge that when the rules are unjust or broken, it’s okay to bend them when it’s not hurting anyone and for the better of society. If these had been girl scouts selling cookies they 100% wouldn’t have been harassed. Anyone who has tried to access the permit system for an event knows how burdensome and archaic it is for folks that don’t have political power to grease the wheels (bike pun unintended). I’d give Food Not Bombs, the Dyke March, the corner of Castro & 18th Street, and many other unpermitted events as examples of the best of San Francisco. Kudos to these guys for finding a way to make a difference in the world.

  7. SF Park and Recs is the worst, full of brats who manage our parks like corrupt HOAs. We should clean house and gut these worthless pricks’ jobs and retirement from the city payroll. We pay top dollar for our parks, to be mismanaged by little Caesar cops who take enormous bribes from huge disruptive events while making the park largely inaccessible small non profit event organizers like this. This corrupt cop is claiming to be enforcing a lack of a permit, when in reality the permit requirement for a free or small low impact event are designed to be accessible. Fire the entire park and Recs dept and restructure the corrupt mismanagement that leads to useless wastes of money like this cop ranger.

    1. Mayoral appointees……..not elected. Unaccountable to San Franciscans and local people. Who oversees this abusiveand bullying behavior? How much tax payers pay the park rangers?

  8. For Heaven’s sake. This is San Francisco. Aggro rangers harassing perfectly lovely folks raising money for a cause most San Franciscans believe in. What a silly flexing of testosterone signifying nothing. Get your shit together Park & Rec. This enforcement would be best spent on a holes on Escooters and Ebikes who menace folks strolling on our public sidewalks. Do better. Come on.

  9. Correction: a sworn officer only needs reasonable suspicion, not fully probable cause, to compel a detainee to identify him/herself.

    1. Off topic but do Muni citation employees have the right to demand ID? None of them seem like actual law enforcement to me nor do they seem to have any legal power.

      1. In CA, arrest powers can be granted to enforcement officers by an agency, but the offense has to amount to a misdemeanor. As far as I can tell, Horn isn’t granted that authority by the city and Shemuel’s offense didn’t amount to a misdemeanor (for a LEO, it doesnt have to amount to a misdemeanor, merely a “crime or public offense”)

        Muni fare inspectors aren’t granted arrest authority, and as such do not have qualified immunity; that precludes your question. There is nothing muni inspectors can do without risking a large civil suit except call the police.


      1. The premise of the headline is purposefully misleading. It should read:

        Shame on you, Mr. Eskanazi. This is yellow journalism.
        One can’t just set up a business in an SF park, even if your cause is ” righteous “,
        and then declare the situation unfair when called to account.

        Organizer Shemuel states,

        “We weren’t blocking traffic. We didn’t have amplified sound. We’re just raising money for charity.”

        This is not justification for ignoring regulations that keep the parks running smoothly. If everyone followed Shemuel’s logic, The parks would be teaming with
        businesses claiming to be working for good causes, and I believe nobody wants that.

        1. Emma — 

          Thanks for reading. My free advice to you is to please stop typing with your face.



  10. Looks like the call came in the nick of time, ha.

    Good on Shemuel for refusing to ID. A slight correction for former Ranger Horan: it’s “reasonable articulable suspicion” that is needed for a cop to compel ID. “Probable cause” is what is needed to effectuate a charge.

  11. What needs to be understood here is that there is a Park code in which the park rangers enforce. If you don’t have a permit, that’s an enforceable infraction to which you can (Officer discretion) be issued citation. Just because permits didn’t get back to you doesn’t mean you can just set up shop. This is what’s wrong with San Franciscans. Pure entitlement! Park rangers are only doing their jobs. So let them. And please stop having Mr. Horan provide information on the rangers abilities and duties. Seems like a disgruntled previous employee. I’ve read multiple article on Park ranger and this guys has absolutely nothing positive to say. Chief Murphy sounds more like a credible source and guy to get your information from and he was so fourth coming with the details of the incident. I see Park rangers everyday when I jog through JFK and they do a great job. Very polite and approachable. Instead of bashing them, find out what those park codes are and abide by them or you’ll see a different side of those Park rangers. Simple enough.

    1. Not sure you read the article in full. They interacted with other Park Rangers prior to this, and were simply told that if Horn saw them, he’d come down on them. They were implicitly told by other Rangers that they were fine.

      Hard to see this as entitlement. Even reviewing the SF Rec & Parks website and the Park Code, I can’t find anything discussing a permit needed for doing non-commercial services. There are permits for busking, “performing personal services” that specifically applies to “athletic instruction” (eg, tennis lessons), and there’s a permit requirement for selling/exchanging/bartering “goods, wares or merchandise.” None of this applies to tuning up bikes. I’d be honestly curious which permit Ranger Horn felt they needed, or what citation he was threatening them with.

      This would also be considered first amendment political action, especially given that we’re literally voting on this issue in two weeks. If the City gov isn’t responding to an inquiry on this in a timely fashion in the run up to an election, it’s actually reasonable to continue. If participating in peaceful political activity is “entitlement,” then I’d like to think all Americans should be “entitled.”

        1. So looking further into where the “special event” things on that linked page, I did a quick through section 7 of the park code. Section 7.08 appears to pretty clearly say they did not need a permit.

          The rules on signs only apply to affixing them to objects in the park. Yes, technically setting up even a folding table would require a permit, but that’d be a lot of birthday parties Officer Horn is somehow looking the other way on if he wants to be that literal.

          1. Section 7.08 expresses there was no permit needed for soliciting for the cause, so good to go there. For signage, section 3.07 states “post or affix” and not simply “affix”; the visible folding sign in the pic here constitutes a posted sign. Section 7.03 says one cannot “station” a “stand,” which would be difficult to argue the pop-up was not.

            Personally, I don’t think there is an argument to be made Ranger Horn acted outside his legal authority, but he was blustery and there happened to be someone there who had a string to pull. Is what it is.


    2. 100% agree.

      SF is amazing for all of its rootsy programs, pop-ups and vendoring (for the most part) but it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to set up shop wherever/whenever and shit on people for doing their jobs.

      1. I didn’t realize threatening people with jail and mental institutions was part of the job description of a Park Ranger

        1. Ahh yes, the good ol’ red herring argument.

          I don’t think anyone should be belittled or accosted, but it doesn’t mean that anyone should feel entitled to do whatever they want and not expect any formal pushback or move-along from people whose responsibility it is to do just that. It’s all conjecture, but nothing gives me the indication that the bike-tune-pop-up was interested in being cool and packing it up without a bunch of BS either. Be cool. Be accountable. On all sides.

    3. What needs to be understood is SELECTIVE enforcement. Park rent-a-cops should not have the discretion to harass one group and ignore others. Either enforce the regs equally or not at all.