Yes, it's OK to be mad about crime in San Francisco
Let's not make excuses for Chaos City.
I’ve been writing for a while about how San Francisco is a city both balkanized and atomized. The various neighborhoods and communities largely keep to themselves, and people walk through the streets with their heads down, hoping that when trouble comes it’ll come for somebody else. Well, there could be no more sickening and horrifying demonstration of San Francisco’s social disintegration than the way bystanders refused to help CashApp founder Bob Lee as he bled to death on the streets:
Tragic video shows dying Cash App founder Bob Lee was ignored by bystanders as he begged for help after being stabbed in San Francisco early Tuesday…Footage showed Lee lifted his shirt to show [a] driver his two stab wounds — but collapsed to the ground as the car drove off…Lee raised one arm in an attempt to flag down [another] car and jumped back onto his feet, but the driver sped away…Police arrived less than six minutes later and found Lee unconscious with two stab wounds to the chest…He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died.
Local cannabis entrepreneur and former San Francisco Fire Commissioner Don Carmignani was hospitalized after being beaten by two men Wednesday night following an altercation outside his mother’s home in the Marina…Carmignani’s mother had called the police because homeless people were doing drugs outside her door and wouldn’t leave. When no police responded, her son came to talk to the men outside her door and was assaulted.
It seems like every day, we get another story about how the streets of SF are collapsing into chaos. A new Whole Foods in the heart of downtown, which many had heralded as a sign of urban revitalization, just closed down:
A City Hall source told The Standard the company cited deteriorating street conditions around drug use and crime near the grocery store as a reason for its closure…The beleaguered grocery store on Market Street slashed its operating hours due to “high theft” and hostile visitors in October of last year, according to one of the store's managers. And in November, the store enforced new bathroom rules after syringes and pipes were found in the restroom.
The closure is just one of many in the area over the last couple of years. A massive wave of store break-ins was responsible for many of these.
It feels like something is breaking in the city’s politics; people who tolerated this situation for a long time are starting to demand action. Here’s a recent Chamber of Commerce survey:
In this year’s poll, 55 percent [of San Franciscans] said crime was a major issue up from 46 percent in 2021, and more than double the 26 percent in 2020. Overall, 83 percent of respondents told us they felt that crime has gotten worse over the last few years.
But the fully justifiable rage over the violent incidents, store closures and street chaos has been met with a torrent of denial — not just from Twitter shouters, but from some mainstream media outlets as well. Mission Local, the San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate, CNN, and ABC were just a few of the outlets who rushed to argue that despite Lee’s murder, San Francisco is actually a safe city.
But those excuses are wearing thin. San Francisco isn’t a dangerous city in the sense that, say, St. Louis or Baltimore is. But it has a unique brand of chaos that makes a great many of its residents justifiably feel insecure walking the streets on a day-to-day basis. And though I don’t think anyone yet knows what the solution is, there’s a growing consensus in the city that something needs to be done.
San Francisco isn’t a bloodbath; it’s chaos
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