San Francisco's hidden truth is out. That's what community organizer Carol Mo calls the realization that Asian residents are being targeted for robberies, burglaries and intimidation by young black men.Perhaps Mayor Gavin Newsom should worry a bit less about what law Arizonans have passed to deal with their burgeoning crime situation due to illegal immigrants and worry about the racial crimes in his own city.
"It is San Francisco's dirty little secret," said Mo, a former Safety Network Community organizer in the Sunset District. "It's not news to us."
Hundreds of people marched into Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting to express their fear, frustration and outrage. But so far the response has been disappointing, particularly from the San Francisco Police Department. It seems intent on downplaying the role of race and its impact in the community.
The recent incidents of black violence against Asians is the perfect opportunity to open a dialogue about racism. Instead, they are attempting to close the door.
City officials, including the Police Department, say these assaults are part of a larger crime picture where gangs of kids take advantage of a vulnerable group of small stature. But Mo participated in a 2008 survey by the Police Department in which about 300 strong-arm robberies were analyzed. "In 85 percent of the physical assault crimes, the victims were Asian and the perpetrators were African American," she said.
The squeamishness city officials are experiencing about confronting those numbers doesn't reflect well on anyone. No one is saying the entire African American community is violent. But ignoring the legitimate anger and frustration from Asians is disingenuous and unfair.
Debra Saunders had a perceptive take on San Francisco's moral preening about Arizona.
I still have to ask: Why should San Francisco support a boycott of another government? Don't city politicians have their hands full governing this place, without telling other politicians how to run their turf?
"There is a need for uniformity in this area," [S.F. City Attorney] Herrera told me. Now that's choice, considering Ess Eff's "sanctuary city" policy. Back in 2007, Mayor Gavin Newsom proudly announced that he would not allow "any of my department heads or anyone associated with this city" to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests of immigrant fugitives.
So one year, city solons proudly flout federal law; another year, they complain that immigration law is sacrosanct as a federal bailiwick, so how dare Arizonans trespass? So much for uniformity.
Herrera pointed to the success of a past boycott that drove Arizona to accept the Martin Luther King Day holiday. He noted that politicians from other cities -- Los Angeles, Oakland -- want to join San Francisco in using their weight to force little Arizona to buckle. Alas, these bullying tactics only serve to divide the country.
It's easy for San Franciscans, from 700 miles away, to sneer at Arizonans. Folks here don't live in an area where cross-border drug violence has led to highway gun battles.