I keep hearing the total bullshit about the Mayor of SF not doing anything about crime. It is a pandemic, we do not want prisons full of minor offenders spreading disease: a minor offense does not warrant the death sentence of covid in a jail. There is no point in imprisoning drug users, it fixes nothing, and costs us more. All it does is make the cheap seats feel like they are punishing those who don’t play their games, don’t fit their idea of what people should do, that aren’t just like them. Or they are….your biggest junkie is the average older American, hooked on oxy’s like they are lifesavers, it is just socially acceptable for your doc to be your dealer.
I wonder how many of these online commentators on SF news stories, or even our Citizen app, which keeps us aware in real time of crimes and dangers on the streets of the city, are transplants from places which are less progressive and are tainting San Francisco with their judgmental pseudo-religious bullshit. The sheer number of calls to throw homeless in jail for the crime of poverty makes me hang my head in horror. How many are writing from our less enlightened parts, in outrage that SF does it differently to the way they do? How many of those calls for the job of the Governor, the baying mob, are actually from California. From what I’ve seen and the people I know, we like how things are done here. There is no bitching about Chesa or Newsome, just a quiet knowledge that this is SF and we have an innate citywide sense of civic pride. There is love for our diversity and progressive liberalism, and the way we treat the people who live in our city. We don’t always get it right, but it is right enough and a basis to build on for the people who are either born here, or are drawn here for sanctuary and refuge from right-wing American heartlessness and hostility.
Sometimes I think we are too big a country, too diverse in our people and our culture to ever be a truly successful country. Someone is always going to feel that the federal government does not represent them. The Orange Years were hell for California and other liberal enclaves of compassion and sanity, while rabid baying mobs of right wingers had parties in pandemics and shouted louder about the Wall than any Pink Floyd fan ever knew was possible.
Last night was hot in the city, the weather is good, and people are feeling safer, they shouldn’t – our covid cases are on the rise, but they are. There was a group of street racing cars turning donuts outside, yelling and shouting, fighting and partying. It kept us awake till the small hours. Eventually we heard the sound of the police – the single bloop. The WUP! I knew the party was over, but couldn’t help but move us away from the windows in fear of things getting nasty and shots being fired…people get hit by stray bullets, and it makes me nervous.
The sound of law enforcement in this country can inspire relief or fear but rarely confidence, at least not to me. When there is a fight in the alley outside I simply turn up the music and try to block it out. I cannot afford to get involved. I fear if I even so much as try to get help for others, any interaction with law enforcement is not guaranteed to help that person, could cause injury or death, or bounce back on my currently terrified self, before my VAWA visa goes through. I simply don’t feel safe.
WUP is the sound of oh no. The sound of fear, even if you are having a quiet night reading and listening to some Iggy. Well, not so quiet, but I have my headphones on, and no one can hear the din. Wup! Yes, that half siren cycle, that single bloop, the sound of knowing that somebody might learn today about the occasional brutality of American law enforcement. Visions of youtube videos of people being killed by the police, people that were not a danger to the cop in question, that cop just got nervous, or the cop got bad, or the cop had a bad fucking day…I feel totally at the whim of a person in uniform’s bad days. Wup makes my heart beat faster, wup makes me sit shaking terrified that I will be separated from my son, never to see his precious self again, wup is a scary sound.
But there it is! Wup! The noise stops, there is no further distressed sounds, everything is clearly being dealt with in a calm professional manner, but I can’t quite get out of my head what that WUP sound could mean for my friends here as well as my selfish self. It can mean disaster.
WHOOWHOOWHOO that is a sound I like, it means they are going on their way, tally ho! Yee haw! See ya laters, bitches. That much I am cool with. They are busy and it is not my out of date tags, or my cracked indicator, it’s not my immigration status or Billy’s blasted bag of weed through North Dakota all those years ago.
Here is to quiet nights and safe streets, and the good cops – because yes, I have met ’em. The ones that turned up to the house when he had had his stroke were kind and discrete and gentle enough, yet all things considered I just can’t help being wary. Polite and wary. Heck, I am even wondering whether or not to press post, but publish and be damned! I ain’t doing anything wrong, officer! Is freedom of speech illegal yet?
As for California and crime…I love California. I love Cali-forn-i-a from its deserts to its redwoods, from it’s coast to its ghost towns and goldrush sepia left-over towns. I love California because California saved my life. California said “hey that’s not fair! We love you, Paltry. We gotchu Boy! Can we help you succeed and be safe?” California held us tightly and this morning, when the shelter wellness check came around, the big gruff guy who seemed to hate me, called me sweetheart, in the nicest avuncular way possible. California is heaven, even if the cops scare the shit out of me. That bit is just America in ’21, that bit is just people. That bit is just men and guns and the bad things men do with them. Here’s an idea…let women take over the police, I bet we do considerably better.