Death by gentrification: the death that shamed San Francisco
March 21, 2016 12:36 PM   Subscribe

San Francisco had been a place where some people came out of idealism or stayed to realize an ideal: to work for social justice or teach the disabled, to write poetry or practise alternative medicine – to be part of something larger than themselves that was not a corporation, to live for something more than money. That was becoming less and less possible as rent and sale prices for homes spiralled upward. What the old-timers were afraid of losing, many of the newcomers seemed unable to recognise. (slTheGuardian)
posted by Kitteh (125 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by pjmoy at 12:43 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Came here to post that story. I'm getting so fucking tired of the rote "feared for my life" excuse that cops give every goddamn time. I realize it's a term of art, but it's just infuriating.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


I had lived in that lovely city many years ago and my friends were not there to work for social justice, to write poetry, or much of anything other than liking a nice place, good food that was cheap...I thought the poor guy was killed by the usual police guns rather than gentrification.
posted by Postroad at 12:53 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Evan Snow, a thirtysomething “user experience design professional”, according to his LinkedIn profile

christ

took his young Siberian husky for a walk on Bernal Hill

of course he did

while its inattentive owner was 40 feet away – in his deposition for the case, under oath, his exact words were that he was distracted by a female “jogger’s butt”

OH COME ON

As he left the park, he texted a friend about the incident. His text, according to his testimony, said, “in another state like Florida, I would have been justified in shooting Mr Nieto that night”

HOW IS IT THAT THIS KEEPS GETTING WORSE??
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:59 PM on March 21, 2016 [81 favorites]


I thought the poor guy was killed by the usual police guns rather than gentrification

At this point it's pretty clear that no matter what Rorschach blot or cloud formation you put in front of Rebecca Solnit, she'll produce pretty much the same few-thousand-word lamentation about the "gentrification" she sees in it. But yeah, it seems particularly tasteless to use her usual kind of vague associative logic to associate a police killing — with such clear and direct culpability — with "newcomers" and techies as much as murderous cops.
posted by RogerB at 1:03 PM on March 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


It's horrifying that this man ended up dead. However, if anyone ever pointed a taser at my pet, for you know, being a dog, I think I'd act violently. That the person in question didn't (inattentive due to "a runner's butt" or not) is commendable.


You know, if a random stranger's dog chased me onto a bench and was barking and jumping at me, I would be really scared. I might be asking myself what I was going to do if it started biting me.

But that's not even at issue, except that the guy with the dog seems to be a racist dick who fantasized about killing Nieto after his own dog chased Nieto onto a bench and after he called Nieto a racial slur.

How many people would still be alive if they were white.

The open letter to the mayor published in mid-February by Justin Keller, founder of a not very successful startup, was typical in tone: “I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

I hope something really terrible happens to this guy, but it never will bar revolution, because people like him always manage to fall upstairs.
posted by Frowner at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2016 [90 favorites]


317, are you kidding? That dog owner was waaaay out of line, letting his unleashed dog chase someone down... jeezus.

Race was all up in this case, and the gentrification angle is only relevant because it has brought so many white folks to Bernal Heights, who then think that kids who grew up there are "foreign". Because only white people belong in "their" parks.

It's not just the cops here, although it is always, always also the cops. It's the people calling the cops because they think they see guns in the hands of scary brown people. FFS.
posted by allthinky at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [34 favorites]


You know, if a random stranger's dog chased me onto a bench and was barking and jumping at me, I would be really scared. I might be asking myself what I was going to do if it started biting me.

I agree with you, although, my instinct would be to get the owner's attention, not take out a weapon. But I fully admit that as a smaller white woman, this is probably an instinct borne of extreme privilege.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:06 PM on March 21, 2016


It's the people calling the cops because they think they see guns in the hands of scary brown people. FFS.

Of course, in a sane society it would be OK to call the cops when you're not sure whats going on, because you could trust them to handle the situation (which should be their job, and they should be better trained to assess than you). But we (in the US) don't live in that society.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


It says a lot about how far our society has fallen, that we consider it commendable that the dog owner didn't do anything to stop his dog from running up and antagonizing a stranger, and instead of getting physically violent with someone who was defending themselves against a strange barking dog seemingly trying to attack them, that they only sent a text to a friend talking about how in a different location they could have shot that guy and gotten away with it.

Fucking disgusting, this world we live in.
posted by palomar at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2016 [34 favorites]


.

I am deeply ashamed that I didn't know more about this event. And I guess although I have a passing familiarity with her work I am unfamiliar with this supposed tendency of Solnit's to make everything about gentrification or whatever. And I really really am unable to not be emotional about these things that happen in my city and I'm sorry. But I thought the whole deal with cop killings was that it isn't just about a few individual actors or "murderous cops," that it's part of a whole sick system of racism, and what is described in this article is absolutely a part of that.

It's not about griping about newcomers - we all have a right to be here. But everyone who encountered Nieto that night, by Solnit's account, had arrived in the past year and didn't stay for another six months. They saw someone who was part of the community that already existed in the neighborhood they had moved to, didn't like the look of him, called the cops.

God, fuck.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:18 PM on March 21, 2016 [34 favorites]


If the owner has already allowed their dog to tree you up on a park bench, while "vocalizing" you might find getting that owners attention the least effective way of defending yourself.

There are leash ordinances for a reason. If you are not actively controlling your animal, and it rushes at me, barking and howling, expect me to use whatever I have at hand to defend myself.

People who cannot maintain control of their animals do not deserve to own animals.
posted by valkane at 1:21 PM on March 21, 2016 [29 favorites]


How a Hispanic man in San Francisco could be identified as "foreign" is beyond me. What a sad story. Poor dude was scared of dogs, of course he panicked.

A lot of people in SF don't seem to understand that it is possible for people to not just totally love all dogs and think that, if you express anything other than an undying love for all things dog-related, there is probably something wrong with you. Couple that with the pseudo-progressive politics of the wealthy white populace which blinds them to their prejudice and you've got the perfect storm of shit that Mr. Nieto walked into.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2016 [31 favorites]


Aren't you supposed to keep your massive shit-factory dog on a lead when you're in a park FFS? I'd like to see that enforced properly.
posted by colie at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


When I'm following these discussions there's always a little voice in the back of my head that goes "you know, PBO, every time you've called the cops on someone, they've handled it professionally and nobody got hurt." And I don't share it because my little snippet of anecdata isn't really relevant to the conversation, you know? But this time a light bulb went off in that little voice's head and it added, "...and maybe the reason for that is because you've only ever called the cops on other white people."
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:24 PM on March 21, 2016 [21 favorites]


In re the dog: let's assume that many people who don't control their dogs have nice if barky dogs. Dog-owners, please remember that a reasonable minority of people have had bad experiences with dogs, sometimes really bad experiences with dogs, and they do not see your dog as nice but barky and undisciplined, they see it as a giant biter that might rip their face off. I have a friend who gets seriously freaked out by dogs, even nice and gentle dogs, for instance. Please don't assume that people who are scared of your dog when it's just chasing them for nacho chips are overreacting.
posted by Frowner at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2016 [60 favorites]


I've never met a dog owner who did not believe that their dog was perfectly well-behaved.
posted by schmod at 1:27 PM on March 21, 2016 [21 favorites]


If your dog chases me and you do nothing, I am going to do whatever is necessary to protect myself. I don't carry a weapon, but I will improvise. But that isn't the point - the point is that people called the cops on a Latino for being menaced by a dog while Brown.
posted by gingerest at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2016 [24 favorites]


Seriously? Fuck Rebecca Solnit, and fuck her turning this issue into her fight. If you aren't aware, this shooting is (rightfully so) a Big Fucking Deal in SF right now. Turning this into an anti gentrification issue is like idiots shouting "All Lives Matter" at Black Lives Matter events.
posted by aspo at 1:32 PM on March 21, 2016


Sorry, it absolutely is a gentrification issue when white people moving into a non-white neighborhood bring down the power of state violence on the existing residents. Especially when those invocations of the cops are influenced by an underlying anxiety about brown/poor people. It's the literal importation of (further) white supremacy into a neighborhood.

I'm not saying a call to the cops is never justified--I'm saying that something is seriously wrong when a white person moves in next to someone who's lived in the neighborhood their whole lives and calls the cops on them because they feel entitled to enforce their own standards of conduct on the neighborhood through any means available, or out of general twitchiness about minorities.
posted by praemunire at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2016 [79 favorites]


Also, I think gentrification is a factor here, because I know from white people who move into city neighborhoods that have lots of working class people of color. I know this because I was one, although my neighborhood has a reasonable percentage of union/working-class-but-not-impoverished people like myself, so I am not wildly economically atypical. But my point is, I had no fucking idea how city people live, and I had definitely been taught to believe that random dudes walking around were maybe "gang members". When I first lived here, I was scared of dumb things because I was ignorant, and I thank my lucky stars that I had read William Upski Wimsatt's ideologically dubious Bomb The Suburbs many times, because I doubted my immediate chickenshit reactions enough that I didn't call the cops on people.

If you're a white person who moves into a neighborhood and thinks you're actually better, and that the habits and practices of the other inhabitants need to change for your convenience, well - ! Abuse of power comes as no surprise, is all.

I hope those people are haunted til the day they die.
posted by Frowner at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2016 [29 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments removed; taking this further in a "well, but in the hypothetical me and my dog vs. a threat..." direction seems like it's only going to heat stuff up in here and make for sort of a weird derail.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:34 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I lived in SF a number of years ago - and though I loved it - the walls of race and privilege are pretty substantial. I was an Asian guy living in the whitest part of Pacific Heights - and the sideway glances I'd get were not just my imagination. I am sure most people thought I was a delivery guy making myself at home in the neighbourhood, rather than the guy who's home was the neighbourhood. I can't tell you how many times I was complimented on the proficiency of my English.

So - I can see how this unfolded was very plausible. How new comers to an "up and coming" neighbourhood made the wrong assumptions and how things went badly downhill from there. Gentrification is real and can be disastrous. It's happened in the Mission district of SF - where people who have lived in a neighbourhood all their lives no longer feel part of the place they live in.

There is too much blame that can be assigned here - to demonize every participant in this terrible situation. But if this can happen in the supposedly most liberal city in a America - I am frankly left a little speechless.
posted by helmutdog at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'd bet a few bucks that a working-class person of color with a pit mix who had let his dog run off-leash and harass a white person (instead of a white UX designer with a Siberian husky whose dog chased a Latino man) would be lucky not to have the police called on them.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:37 PM on March 21, 2016 [44 favorites]


the point is that people called the cops on a Latino for being menaced by a dog while Brown.

If you read the article, the police were actually called by two white men who passed by after the guy with the dog had moved on. Nieto was pacing, eating something, and resting his hand on his taser. They described him as "probably foreign" and asserted wrongly that he had a "black gun."

It's like Tamir Rice: some white person calling 911 because a person who makes them uncomfortable is...there, I guess, and not being actively non-threatening? At least the person who called 911 on Tamir Rice said he was probably a kid and that the gun was probably fake, but the dispatcher didn't tell the officers who responded that.

Stories like this give me a very creepy feeling of the power I have as a white woman over the lives of black men I encounter in my daily life. They fill me with impotent rage.
posted by not that girl at 1:41 PM on March 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


The experience of many people who grew up in poorer communities--especially in cities--is that dogs are not Sweet Pookums the Chair-Stealer, or Ralph the Sheep Herder, but No-Name Guard Dog Of Scary Neighbor Who Got It To Intimidate Everybody And Has Killed At Least Three Cats.

I don't know how to separate this shooting from the racial and cultural differences between the guy who was killed and the people who interacted with him that night. Within his cultural context, his behavior was totally normal and Evan Snow was an asshole trying to intimidate everyone with his dog. The dog is a legitimate threat. Within the cultural context of Evan Snow, a barking off-leash dog just needs some better training and anyone who thinks otherwise is totally overreacting. Meanwhile, to Snow and the couple who called the police, a lone Hispanic man with even the implication of a weapon--now that's the legitimate threat.

Those two clashing context came together as a result of gentrification. The context of Snow and the couple is intertwined with racism. No police shooting is just Police-Gone-Bad. There is a background radiation of race and class that influences who is calling the police on who, how they describe the "suspect", and drives the reactions of law enforcement towards the caller and the victim.
posted by schroedinger at 1:47 PM on March 21, 2016 [26 favorites]


Another salient point is that Bernal Heights is not newly invaded by white people, not even user experience designers with fancy dogs. Something else has to have shifted for this to have happened.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The open letter to the mayor published in mid-February by Justin Keller, founder of a not very successful startup, was typical in tone: “I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.

Somebody needs to listen to some Phil Collins

More seriously, though, what does one even say to people like this? People whose natural empathy is nothing but a source of irritation to them? People so vexed by transient moments feeling the suffering of others, and so callous and infantile, that they think the solution to their mild vexation is to throw away anyone whose suffering is a burden to witness?
posted by clockzero at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2016 [33 favorites]


The experience of many people who grew up in poorer communities--especially in cities--is that dogs are not Sweet Pookums the Chair-Stealer, or Ralph the Sheep Herder, but No-Name Guard Dog Of Scary Neighbor Who Got It To Intimidate Everybody And Has Killed At Least Three Cats.

As someone who grew up in one of those communities, I was intimidated by dogs, just about any dogs above ten pounds, into my thirties. In my childhood experience, dogs were either starving abandoned strays or "guard dogs" who had been abused/neglected into aggressive behavior. Either way, not predictable and not safe. I carried that visceral reaction for a long time. Now, I eventually became a dog-lover through the good offices of a small yellow lab puppy (I mean, I'm not made of stone), but I remain very sympathetic to those who are frightened when they encounter a strange rambunctious dog. An aggressive dog can kill you, and most non-dog-owners don't know how to read their body language. It wouldn't surprise me at all if that was Nieto's context for reacting to dogs.
posted by praemunire at 2:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


> what does one even say to people like this? People whose natural empathy is nothing but a source of irritation to them? People so vexed by transient moments feeling the suffering of others, and so callous and infantile, that they think the solution to their mild vexation is to throw away anyone whose suffering is a burden to witness?

Typically we address them as "sir" and otherwise treat them with deference, because we have to to keep our jobs.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [39 favorites]


Of course, in a sane society it would be OK to call the cops when you're not sure whats going on, because you could trust them to handle the situation (which should be their job, and they should be better trained to assess than you). But we (in the US) don't live in that society.

Yes, things being the way they are makes it so the only law and order can be that of white supremacy. The other day there was a man on the train, who was black, who was clearly having some sort of psychiatric episode and was frightening passengers. It's quite possible he was a threat to himself or even to others, but I am absolutely not going to call the police on a person of color acting erratically, and potentially risk his life, unless the situation is already unambiguously life-threatening. So I did nothing. I hope he's okay-- though I doubt he got whatever help he needed-- and I wish there were just, or hell, even simply safe systems we could turn to.
posted by threeants at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


Oh, I read it, notthatgirl, and I interpreted their decision to call as being framed by their perception that, in a loud exchange between a white and a Brown man, the Brown man is the one to worry about. Which I think means we are strenuously agreeing. But are we agreeing strenuously enough?
posted by gingerest at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


A lot of people in SF don't seem to understand that it is possible for people to not just totally love all dogs and think that, if you express anything other than an undying love for all things dog-related, there is probably something wrong with you.

Replace "a lot of people in SF" with "rich urban newcomers everywhere who reflexively talk about dogs by referring to specific pure breeds in the rare moments when they aren't talking about real estate" and you'll have it.

What does one even say to people like this? People whose natural empathy is nothing but a source of irritation to them?

The traditional, historical response has been class war and revolution. We should consider it.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


This fucking bullshit is happening in every major American city and it is one of the reasons that Jacobin is getting 400 subscribers a week.
posted by wuwei at 2:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well now i have something to link to when someone asks me to explain whats so awful about lolbertarian techbros. That florida text is like something straight from clickhole.
posted by emptythought at 2:08 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


So I did nothing. I hope he's okay-- though I doubt he got whatever help he needed-- and I wish there were just, or hell, even simply safe systems we could turn to.

I think that we really, really need to do the work to make the police a safe institution to call in situations like this, for that man's sake and for the sake of anyone around him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:09 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The problem with revolution and class war, like all war, is that mostly the wrong people die - middlemen and people not quite powerful enough to escape, and poor bastards in the wrong place at the wrong moment. It would be the baristas and the dog groomers, not the CEOs or even the user experience designers. Not that I'm endorsing murdering anyone.
posted by gingerest at 2:11 PM on March 21, 2016 [19 favorites]


Yeah, as much as things need a change, revolution usually results in the same asshats from before somehow squirming their way back into positions of power, things changing slightly for the better in the short term, and then things going back to pretty much how they were before.

See: Any and every revolution ever.

I'm at the point where I think preventing the suffering of millions might not be achievable, and revolution might be the only way out, and christ, that scares the shit out of me.

I would totally be one of the first against the wall.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2016


This fucking bullshit is happening in every major American city

Yes, yes it is. From SF to NYC to Austin to Portland to Seattle to Durham to Minneapolis to Pittsburgh to Everywhere.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:16 PM on March 21, 2016


At about 7.11pm he began talking to the 911 dispatcher, telling her that there was a “probably foreign” man with a black handgun.

This makes me so, so incredibly mad.

Have you ever grown up in a place, and felt like it was home? Have you had had someone come up to you and assume that you're a foreigner, because of your perceived race, and act accordingly?

I'm Asian-American. Part of the reason I feel like can't leave NYC is because, when I moved here, I finally felt that I found a place full of people that were taught by the city to not inextricably link my appearance, my race, my identity, and my thoughts, all together. I found a place where people didn't automatically ask me "where are you from?" or "what's your ethnic heritage?" or inform me that they loved Korean food. Rather, people would ask me about what I was reading, or what projects I'd be working on.

Or in other words, I found in NYC a place where people who were white could actually handle it. In the words of Chris Rock, "that’s white progress".

Cities do that, actually. Diverse cities generate tolerance and acceptance, and teach it though lived experiences. I've had my prejudices slowly ironed out and modified over time, simply because you interact with enough people. I'm not talking about just racial diversity, but socioeconomic, educational, gender, disciplinal diversity, and more.

One of the complex things about people moving into diverse cities is that people enter with a whole set of assumptions that they're unwilling to change because they think they're right. They're used to car ownership and large rooms, or small ones, or used to windows, or grass, or smoke and pollution. They're used to making as much noise they want in their house, or used to living with many people in the same house, or used to living alone, or used to loud noises everywhere. They're used to certain definitions of clean and dirty, safe and unsafe. They're used to patronizing their own idea of businesses that like 'nice', verses ones that look 'not nice'. They're used to eating certain foods, not eating certain foods. They're used to socializing with certain people, and not with other ones.

All people are like this, myself included. What's problematic about quick gentrification, in specific, is that the people who enter are not educated enough by the city to realize and the modify their points of view. So you have notions of 'foreign' and outsider, being imported by newcomers of the neighborhood from some white suburban land, who haven't progressed enough to understand their own prejudices. Enough people like that entering at the same time, and you generate a pocket neighborhood of prejudices.

To see this effect here: this question on Ask Metafilter a few years ago, which boiled down to: "I'm white and the 'diverse urban-poor' in my neighborhood have a custom of making a street memorial to someone who died. I think it looks dirty. How do I get rid of it?"
posted by suedehead at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2016 [67 favorites]


This happened a while ago. Almost exactly 2 years ago.
I just came to the comments first, thinking it was yet-another-san-francisco-is-getting-gentrified, and then saw it was about a police killing, and thought "is this about Alex Nieto?"

Yep. Sure enough. I heard about it a while ago from some street art with his picture and the text "Justice For Alex Nieto", and looked it up then. I'm still seeing those a couple years later in the mission. Actually, its the poster behind his parents in the second picture.

Actually, this is better than the usual coverage which was "he had a history of mental health problems and was 'acting erractically'", which was the broom to sweep this under the rug when it first happened.

David Talbot talked about it briefly in last years "Dont Be a Stanford Asshole". I remember the rather awful comments really stressing that angle. I'm using ghostery, and don't really feel like enabling them, but yeah.
posted by lkc at 2:21 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


A lot of people have the false impression that San Francisco is a bastion of hippie-free-love-new-agey folks who have come to find inner peace and happiness. It is not, and, outside of the occasional drum circle in GG Park, you won't find a lot of hippie type people in SF. SF is diverse - Bernal Heights used to be "the bad part of town," (interpret that how you will) until the dotcom boom. Some parts of the Mission were areas you wanted to avoid after a schwarma and too many beers...especially if you were not local...and anyone who has lived in their neighborhood for their lifettime knows if you're not a local. There are a lot of Filipino Americans in SF/Daly City, Chinese, Russians...and a lot of the tech startup folks who hit the lottery tend to move to the Peninsula or elsewhere.

SF is a dog friendly town. When I lived in the Mission, I was dodging shit on the sidewalks daily. I had friends who were dog owners, and even they bothered me sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love animals, but I grew to despise dog owners for exactly this reason. Poor guy is noshing on some chips and a sketchy husky runs up on him...the dog owner assumes he should be aware that his dog is friendly. Hell no. Dogs are unpredictable and some people, myself included, don't like unleashed animals. Guy is lucky his dog survived that encounter.

I'm still trying to figure out why the cops were called out in the first place. If Nieto were treated equally, he might've had a legitimate complaint against the dog owner, but he got shot instead. SF is not as liberal as people make it out to be. There is old and new money here, and ethnocentrism abounds.
posted by Chuffy at 2:47 PM on March 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


The problem with revolution and class war, like all war, is that mostly the wrong people die

Alex Nieto died. He was the wrong person.

We're already living in war, it's just class war against the 99% by the 1%, with additional axes for white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia. Lots of people are dying already.
posted by wuwei at 2:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [19 favorites]


Seriously? Fuck Rebecca Solnit

Yeah, fuck her for caring and thinking about this killing, researching the story deeply, spending a great deal of time putting together an article on it for a major newspaper and connecting Alex Nieto's life and the circumstances of his death to broader social, economic, and political trends. How dare she! Where does she get the unspeakable gall to produce excellent, thoughtful journalism that exposes social injustice of a complex nature.

and fuck her turning this issue into her fight

Do you even hear yourself bruh? This issue? Like Nieto's murder-by-cop is just one solitary thing, some isolated incident? What frame of reference are you coming from where a reporter doing her job well and advocating for people wronged by a shitty, unjust system is "turning it into her fight"?
posted by clockzero at 2:57 PM on March 21, 2016 [50 favorites]


I had friends who were dog owners, and even they bothered me sometimes.

(I remember joining the line at a food truck around here when out of nowhere this enormous husky suddenly decided I looked suspect and started to growl at me. The owner's response was not to apologize or soothe his dog, but instead to stop his conversation to angrily stare me down -- as if it were my fault for upsetting his dog by having the temerity to idk, be present. It was such a hostile stare that I honestly thought he might fight me. So fucking weird.)
posted by en forme de poire at 3:03 PM on March 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


One more thought...

Imagine if any of the people who were intimidated or afraid of Mr. Nieto, instead of keeping their distance, actually introduced themselves to him as potential neighbors, and asked him if he lived nearby and if he could tell them where to get xyz? Isn't that what good neighbors do? You don't have to bring pie or cookies or anything, but seriously, get to know the people around you.
posted by Chuffy at 3:30 PM on March 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


No, Nieto's murder-by-cop has to do with the police being trigger happy and terrified of non-whites. I don't blame that on gentrification, because it doesn't seem to be at all isolated to gentrifying areas of the country.
posted by aspo at 3:44 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Imagine if any of the people who were intimidated or afraid of Mr. Nieto, instead of keeping their distance, actually introduced themselves to him as potential neighbors, and asked him if he lived nearby and if he could tell them where to get xyz? Isn't that what good neighbors do? You don't have to bring pie or cookies or anything, but seriously, get to know the people around you.

I personally would reflexively interpret this as a "neighborhood watch" style interrogation-with-a-friendly-face. That probably speaks to how toxic racial relations are in the Bay Area right now.
posted by naju at 3:54 PM on March 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Alex Nieto died. He was the wrong person.

We're already living in war, it's just class war against the 99% by the 1%, with additional axes for white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia. Lots of people are dying already.


I take your point, although I would pick the nit that a war has two sides, and oppression is a unilateral act of aggression. I just flinch when people understandably but automatically respond that what we need is violent revolution, because history suggests that entrenched power structures often maintain themselves regardless, and the oppressed keep on being oppressed. Which doesn't mean that poor Cubans aren't better off under Castro than they were under Batista or Machado - but those guys got where they were under the banner of revolution, too.
posted by gingerest at 4:00 PM on March 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


The officers approached Nieto at 7.19:20pm, less than two minutes after it had all begun. Morse was the first to get there; he says that Nieto’s eyes were open and that he was gasping and gurgling. He says that he kicked the Taser out of the dying man’s hands. Schiff says he “handcuffed him, rolled him over, and said, ‘Sarge, he’s got a pulse.’” By the time the ambulance arrived, Alejandro Nieto was dead.

Cell phone video version:
Officers show up, say freeze
Nieto turns around
Officers shoot him
Unclip taser, move taser away from body
Take time calling for ambulance while his life gurgles away
posted by benzenedream at 4:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't blame that on gentrification, because it doesn't seem to be at all isolated to gentrifying areas of the country.

That only proves that gentrification is not a factor in all police brutality, though, not that it had nothing to do with this specific incident.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Anyone dismissing the race and class aspects of this story is in denial. It *is* about gentrification. People of color are being othered in the neighborhoods where they've lived all their lives because of predominantly white professional newcomers. If you can't see that, or that it's wrong, you're part of the problem, and I hope you get stuck on the next Google bus blocked for hours by protestors.
posted by Lyme Drop at 4:10 PM on March 21, 2016 [20 favorites]


No, Nieto's murder-by-cop has to do with the police being trigger happy and terrified of non-whites. I don't blame that on gentrification, because it doesn't seem to be at all isolated to gentrifying areas of the country.

Yes, but in this case, the police wouldn't have been called in the first place if not for gentrification - the expectation that neighborhoods assimilate to their new wealthy white residents is central to the process of gentrification, and central to this particular tragedy.
posted by gingerest at 4:15 PM on March 21, 2016 [18 favorites]


Nieto's murder-by-cop has to do with the police being trigger happy and terrified of non-whites. I don't blame that on gentrification, because it doesn't seem to be at all isolated to gentrifying areas of the country.

The cops would not have been there in the first place if Nieto, a long-term resident of the neighborhood, had not been seen as a threat by Fritz and Isgitt, rich White residents who were recent additions to the area as a result of its rapid gentrification. The interaction with Evan Snow (and Snow's gross comments afterwards) that prompted Nieto's anxious behavior was the piece of corn atop the shit sandwich.

Police brutality is a universal issue, but in this case it is not difficult to see how it was prompted by White civilian fear.
posted by schroedinger at 4:16 PM on March 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


"I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

Why not?
posted by crazylegs at 4:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


So basically the catalyst for this was some fuckhead moron who didn't have his dog on a leash in a public space.

I don't care how well-trained or well-behaved you've convinced yourself your dog is, or how amazing a dog handler you believe you are, you put your dog on a fucking leash. Otherwise you are wilfully endangering the health and well-being of your dog, which makes you a filthy scumbag of the absolute highest order.

Of course, the real issue here is cowardly, trigger-happy cops, and America's general culture of gun violence and lack of gun laws. But actually I do understand the perspective of the police: in a country where the alleged "right to bear arms" is apparently the most important thing on anybody's mind, I always find it quite amusing (in a non-funny way) when somebody gets shot fifty times by a bunch of police officers because they "thought he had a gun" and everybody stars up with the "but he didn't have a gun, it was a burrito/Taser/hair brush!". Like, I'd assume he had a gun too, because it seems like everybody does.

And now somebody else is dead.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:24 PM on March 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


An aggressive dog can kill you, and most non-dog-owners don't know how to read their body language.

One solution to such problems is to charge dog owners with any crime committed by their dogs. Not on a leash? PREMEDITATED.
posted by Twang at 4:29 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't care how well-trained or well-behaved you've convinced yourself your dog is, or how amazing a dog handler you believe you are, you put your dog on a fucking leash. Otherwise you are wilfully endangering the health and well-being of your dog, which makes you a filthy scumbag of the absolute highest order.

Looks like at least part of Bernal Height's Park is a sanctioned off-leash area. These kind of places seem to multiplying lately, every neighborhood around where I live seems to have an open dog park now. I know that the dogs love running free but I get a little unnerved walking through my local park sometimes when an un-leashed dog runs up to me.
posted by octothorpe at 4:55 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]



Of course, the real issue here is cowardly, trigger-happy cops, and America's general culture of gun violence and lack of gun laws. But actually I do understand the perspective of the police: in a country where the alleged "right to bear arms" is apparently the most important thing on anybody's mind, I always find it quite amusing (in a non-funny way) when somebody gets shot fifty times by a bunch of police officers because they "thought he had a gun" and everybody stars up with the "but he didn't have a gun, it was a burrito/Taser/hair brush!". Like, I'd assume he had a gun too, because it seems like everybody does.


I'm not sure if you meant to sound oddly dismissive of the race/gentrification aspects of this, but it comes across that way. There are several intersecting "real issues" here that the article touches upon. I don't believe for a second that "general culture of gun violence" is the main or even a particularly salient point here compared to the racial assumptions that lead to this man's death.
posted by naju at 5:03 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Understood that there are off-leash areas in the world. But until you know every other dog, and every other person, in that off-leash area, it's just a terrible idea.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:04 PM on March 21, 2016


This story is so heartrending that I have difficulty putting my reaction into words, except to say that "Evan Snow" is the perfect name for that guy.

no offense to any nice Evan Snows, I'm sure you're out there too.
posted by sallybrown at 5:56 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, but in this case, the police wouldn't have been called in the first place if not for gentrification

Sure, but calling the police should not result in this kind of outcome, and that responsibility for that is primarily on the police and on society for not reigning in the police. Where I grew up, in a white middle class area, police were called for various things all the time, but no one ended up dead. I would never have considered that "calling police" could end up getting an innocent person killed.

Now, I know better, but thats because I know how many bad police departments there are and how unwilling many are to effect change there. Yes, given our reality, people should probably be more careful before calling police. But my goal would be a world where it is safe to call the police and assume they can handle things, since there _are_ ambiguous potentially-dangerous situations where well-trained police could be a good thing.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:20 PM on March 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


The open letter to the mayor published in mid-February by Justin Keller, founder of a not very successful startup, was typical in tone: “I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

The Other Justin Keller Schools Tech Bro With Same Name On Homelessness In SF

Justin Keller shows us programmers need a heart
posted by homunculus at 7:24 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Such a sad and disturbing story. Rumblings in this thread about a revolution are understandable. Revolutions are not steerable, though, and collateral damage is always horrid. But the point about gentrification probably ought to be contextualized as a process, not a proximate cause of such forces that led to Alex Nieto's death. His proximate cause of death was the group of policemen who didn't know how to do their job. Racism, in this story, I believe, is subsumed in a sea of classism.

It's easy enough to see the chain of miscommunication that went down via the 911 operator who took the call. Code words were flowing: gang colors, the description of a person by those who didn't realize that he "belonged" to the neighborhood. By the time the cops got the message they were thinking gang member. Then they fucked up and killed him, and afterward they massaged their actions into a plausible scenario whereby they seemed to have reason to fear for their lives. Giving lie to the story, for me, was the tactical description: the hail of bullets, reloading, rounds smacking into objects in the distance (people were afraid they might get hit). That pathetic statement about the Taser sights' red dot is an almost cynical attempt to create structure for a story that has none. This was a wave of panic, and when the first shot was fired, everyone wanted a piece of it. So, after the act it's a combination of cop hubris and ass covering. Fuck the Brown Guy.

Somewhere in this heartbreaking story is an overarching set of forces that frightens me. I'm a white middle class male. I'm an old fart. I lived in San Francisco for a few years in the 1970's. I walked unafraid in the Mission, The Castro, Noe Valley, out in the Avenues, and of course, the Haight. I was wary when leaving the Tenderloin--the bus station, you know. I lived on a very small amount of money each month, but I never had to panhandle. Oh, and there was Herb Caen.

The city I see described here doesn't resemble the one I lived in. But the forces I see described here resemble other places I've lived. Someone in the thread mentioned that in a revolution it was never the movers and shakers who were dispossessed, although a class of people may be caused to disappear. Yeah, capitalism is the driving engine, but I can't see how capitalism, with it's reverence of black ink, could require such ugliness--greed is a powerful drug, but money doesn't need to be evil. I don't know what might turn this sort of thing around.

Those rich white people have a right to buy anything their dollars can buy, and require the infrastructure of a society to insulate them from anything not within their protective shields: they can well afford the hubris they so blatantly display.
posted by mule98J at 7:52 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


SF is a dog friendly town. When I lived in the Mission, I was dodging shit on the sidewalks daily. I had friends who were dog owners, and even they bothered me sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love animals, but I grew to despise dog owners for exactly this reason

SF has a terrible culture of dog ownership, which predated gentrification. And part of that awfulness is that people will strongly defend their culture of keeping them off leash and the expectation that their aggression will be publicly tolerated. And that kind of culture resulted in someone carrying around a taser to keep himself safe from the various aggressive dogs that are all over SF.

They're used to certain definitions of clean and dirty, safe and unsafe.

I think one of the things we are unwilling to confront about diversity is that certain standards are essentially a zero-sum game. Someone's standard of "safe and unsafe" when it comes to dogs is going to win, and someone's standard is going to lose. The same with clean and dirty, loud and quiet, etc.
posted by deanc at 8:02 PM on March 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


> A lot of people have the false impression that San Francisco is a bastion of hippie-free-love-new-agey folks who have come to find inner peace and happiness

I don't think anyone has thought that for about three decades.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:12 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think one of the things we are unwilling to confront about diversity is that certain standards are essentially a zero-sum game.

No, this is absolutely untrue. Or rather, this is only true if one's tolerance for anything that's not exactly like one's standards is nearly zero. Tolerance is the wiggle room that makes this non-zero-sum. A multitude of standards doesn't mean a harmonious coexistence isn't possible.

Or in other words: a large part of the active problem isn't simply that denizens (un)consciously think "my version of an ideal city is full of people who look and act like me". It lies with those who say "anyone who doesn't look or act like me is a foreign, strange problem".
posted by suedehead at 9:35 PM on March 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


My wife just asked me not to wear flannel on account of this article. I work on the peninsula, not SF. I'm Filatino, so I understand why --flannel on white people is hipster, on brown people it is teh gangz. Seems like I should also avoid parks, eating chips, dogs, and carrying things on my belt. Hey white people, you going to do something about this? Flannel is half my wardrobe, I really like chips and I would rather not worry about being killed by police in the country I was born, raised, and live in. I'm going to have to tell my sons about dogs and chips, racists, and trigger happy LEOs. This saddens me because my eldest loves to eat Cool Ranch Doritos and watch Paw Patrol. I wrote this comment with a somewhat comedic voice because earlier versions were filled with anger and helplessness.

I'll do as my wife asks, of course.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:51 PM on March 21, 2016 [40 favorites]


This comment thread has touched upon a lot of the mixed feelings I have about living in SF. I still like living here, but I can't help but feel like Something Terrible is happening and will inevitably continue to happen. I find it difficult to recommend living here to anybody that doesn't already. I started a long ramble to try and articulate these feelings, but the TL;DR is probably easier to follow:

Shit got expensive. My social circle has dwindled down and homogenized to the sort of people that could afford to stay, which is tragic. I know that I at least passively contribute to the problem by merely being here, but the work I enjoy is here and not easily available in other places. Some days I want to plant my roots here; other days I want to GTFO while I still can.

I've lived in SF for about a decade and I felt like there was a real inflection point ~4-5 years ago, right around the Facebook IPO, where the aforementioned Something Terrible train really picked up steam.
posted by strangecargo at 10:18 PM on March 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you have Something Terrible, talk to your doctor about Late Capitalism. Symptoms include massive economic inequality, anthropogenic climate change, violent Islamic extremism, and soaring refugee populations. Side effects include racist, reactionary politics that don't actually address any of the aforementioned symptoms.
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:05 PM on March 21, 2016 [24 favorites]


Yes, yes it is. From SF to NYC to Austin to Portland to Seattle to Durham to Minneapolis to Pittsburgh to Everywhere.

Alright, Toronto it is then.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:08 PM on March 21, 2016


Something Terrible

I think that was the low income families all losing their homes in 2008-2010, to be replaced by cash rich tech vultures and hedge funds buying real estate on the cheap.
posted by benzenedream at 11:10 PM on March 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


The problem with revolution and class war, like all war, is that mostly the wrong people die

Maybe another way to look at it is that when the wrong people are dying, that a revolution is already under way, just not necessarily in the direction you'd hope.
posted by rhizome at 12:22 AM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


In re "revolution", I think it's important to consider what you mean by revolution. There have been a number of them, and the things which lead to the "wrong people dying". The process which led to the election of Allende was a revolution, for instance. The Mexican Revolution - that other 1917 - was actually a pretty decent revolution in terms of the reform-to-disaster ratio. Quite a lot of the immediate post-WWII upheaval in Western Europe was basically revolutionary, which was why communists were elected, social programs were installed, etc - elites would never, ever have done any of that without plausible fear of unrest combined with the changes in social organization brought about by the war. Lots of anti-colonial struggles were revolutions - what about the Haitian revolution? That was quite good, frankly.

I think there's this tendency to mournfully eyeball a US-written history of the USSR and throw up one's hands about radical social change, but the world is large and history is long.
posted by Frowner at 6:54 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


But my goal would be a world where it is safe to call the police and assume they can handle things, since there _are_ ambiguous potentially-dangerous situations where well-trained police could be a good thing.

And situations where the police are 100% necessary. A few months ago, I saw a man (who was Black) lying on the sidewalk in an unusual position in midtown Manhattan. He'd clearly soiled himself and it looked like a potential OD to my untrained eye. I was terrified of calling the cops on the situation but more terrified of not calling them, so I did so. I still hope he's okay, and I have no idea.

Sometimes there are situations where I don't feel safe or I don't feel prepared to intervene, and I really want there to be a trustworthy public agency tasked with handling those situations better than private citizens can. One that people should not have to be afraid to call for fear of otherwise avoidable tragedy. I know this will never fly in the US, but I would be so comforted if first responders only had nonlethal weapons.

I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes in these narratives the value of a good police force is ignored. Personally, having a trustworthy and well-trained police force is very important to me. But make no mistake, I don't believe that we have one right now (or even in American history at all, really).
posted by R a c h e l at 8:01 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Are the British cops better? I ask this because I saw a video a few years ago of an incident somewhere in Britain where a disturbed man was waving a big knife around and a whole gaggle of officers sort of swarmed him with trash cans or something equaly non lethal. It was little upsetting to watch as it seemed so humane compared to what seems to happen when the Portland Police respond.
posted by Pembquist at 9:43 AM on March 22, 2016


I have found that if you call 911 and stress that the person is passed out, and then stay with them until help arrives, you generally get an ambulance, maybe a cop as well.

It seems like if the person isn't actually waving a knife threateningly, but is instead ill or confused or flailing, if you stay with them or nearby until help arrives you can reduce the odds of bad things happening.
posted by Frowner at 9:45 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Or in other words, I found in NYC a place where people who were white could actually handle it.

Aren't you afraid of NYC becoming SF? I know people upthread say this is a problem in all cities, but I just don't see it being as bad as SF in other cities. In Chicago for example, while our political machine can be frustrating, it at least has strong factions from the African American and Latino communities. I get the impression these techies moved into SF and just sort of starting running the place for themselves. But I'm also afraid that Chicago could become like that with our Mayor's office trying to attract tech companies, our own serious policing issues, and other economic changes including the widespread conversion of rental flats into single-family mansions (which doesn't get nearly enough press).

I know working in tech I could make a higher salary in SF but the stories I hear are just too awful. Basically it sounds like people are running tech companies like frat houses.
posted by melissam at 12:14 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


This piece made me about three different kinds of angry.

One is the obvious -- this poor man was killed, unjustly, by the police.

Two is the gentrification factor -- the way these relative newcomers, not understanding the neighborhood they have moved into, endangered a young man.

But three is Solnit. In her rush to tie the recent housing crisis and gentrification to the current tech boom, she is not only picking up one causal effect among many, but frankly flat out lying.

Specifically this: "San Francisco was never anti-newcomer: until recently, it had always been a place where new people arrived to reinvent themselves. "

This is badly wrong. It is ahistorical. It erases a long history of anti-immigrant and ethnic violence in San Francisco. It ignores anti-Chinese violence and the Chinese Exclusion Act. It ignores similar acts of violence against Hispanics, Philipinos, African-Americans, Japanese ... all parts of San Francisco's history.

She does this -- I guess -- because to acknowledge the history of ethnic violence in San Francisco would soften her thesis that the current wave of gentrification is uniquely horrible, that tech culture is uniquely responsible for the shitty things currently happening in San Francisco.

Tech culture has a lot to answer for, and there is a relationship between gentrification and police violence. But San Francisco was perfectly capable of evicting people wholesale from their neighborhoods before the tech boom. San Francisco had cops shooting people of color before it as well.

If this article had been written by someone who was in fact ignorant of these things, it would still make me angry. But Solnit knows San Francisco history. She is deliberately erasing history in the name of polemic.
posted by feckless at 12:46 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


I get the impression these techies moved into SF and just sort of starting running the place for themselves.

SF suffered from ineffective local government in that it was more or less paralyzed from doing anything or responding to anyone's interests, except for the public's ability to tell the government NOT to do something (like build any kind of housing). So basically the most powerful constituency in SF became the group who needed the fewest public services: tech professionals and homeowners.

The difference between SF and someplace like NYC is that EVERYONE has a stake in effective delivery of public services due to a combination of its sheer scale, the weather, and its reliance on public transit to get anywhere. The income and wealth threshold to detach yourself from concern about public services is much higher than it is in SF.
posted by deanc at 12:49 PM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't believe it. I mean, I don't believe that San Francisco's political/economic culture is distinctively different from and worse than the political/economic culture of other major American cities. Instead, I believe that San Francisco is just a few years ahead of the rest of the nation; that what's happening in San Francisco today, at the severity that it's happening today, will happen in Seattle, Boston, New York and Los Angeles tomorrow, and then everywhere else the day after that. The class war has moved to a stage where the winners are eagerly using economic force majeure to lock down total control over as much turf as they can, neighborhood by neighborhood and city by city.

San Francisco's not different. San Francisco is the test lab. San Francisco is the vanguard.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:00 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


San Francisco's not different. San Francisco is the test lab. San Francisco is the vanguard.

I have conversations just about every other day over Seattle's current state of transition and how SF seems to be the model. I think lots of us range negative on that from disapproving to horrified by what we're apparently idolizing. But we're not the ones who can buy out whole blocks and dump shiny steel and glass fortresses where public spaces used to be, so fuck us.
posted by Errant at 1:53 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know working in tech I could make a higher salary in SF but the stories I hear are just too awful. Basically it sounds like people are running tech companies like frat houses.

This is not actually true at all. Here's the thing: there are a small number of startup founders who are young multimillionaires, and who personality-wise are the same guys who would have been at Wall Street a decade or two ago.

But actual techies? Mostly liberals, with a few libertarians and conservatives thrown in. That Keller story mentioned above? At my Large Silicon Valley Company, he was mocked and criticized. That viewpoint is not common or popular. Even some of my former coworkers who are VCs and so on were sharing that on Facebook and making their dislike clear.

There are some frathouse-type startups out there. And there are various problems in the industry, sure. Even at companies that try to do better, there are people having issues with gender, race, etc. But the tone has been shifting for years now. Especially among the "older" crowd, I see a lot of people taking problems seriously.

I've never run into the "brogrammer" / frat house type company/employees, and I certainly wouldn't work at one. But there are plenty of companies not like that. May take a little screening, and I'm not trying to claim everything is perfect --- but the news takes the extreme cases (like Keller) and makes it sound normal. I know people who have quit over sexism, harrassment, etc. But I know those people in many industries, and the tone in the people/companies I know is squarely against it, even if change comes slowly. When I see stories about harassment, for example, the mood is overwhelmingly on the side of the victim, and those MRA/gamergater types (who do exist, of course) are in the minority whining about being oppressed or whatever.

But it does depend on the company and culture, and I'm know there are some startups out there where things just run wild and no one cares about this stuff. There is practically no barrier to being a "startup" these days, and literally any asshole can found a company and proudly proclaims its asshole policies. Either I cultivate my network/friends better than I think, though, or that attitude is not actually encouraged/supported by a majority of the Valley.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:54 PM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


We're already living in war, it's just class war against the 99% by the 1%, with additional axes for white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia. Lots of people are dying already.

As nice as it sounds in a blurb, calling tech bros making 200k~ a year the 1% is missing the forest for the trees.

I mean, assuming that's what you were doing, but i see that slung around a lot.

200k is still 99% material, and not just in the bay. Their hamster wheels are just shiny chrome instead of flaking white vinyl. This guy isn't the 1%, his bosses are. Or the people who funded them at their startup. It's like the difference between rich and wealthy. This guy might be able to buy a tesla on launch day, but his bosses own part of tesla. Or part of 10 companies like tesla.

Sorry, this one is just a major bugbear of mine
posted by emptythought at 3:27 PM on March 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, 1% is more like people who make $200K/yr just on the interest from their passbook savings accounts.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on March 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


San Francisco's not different. San Francisco is the test lab. San Francisco is the vanguard.

Is there any way to stop it? Any cities that have successfully stopped it? Managed to become economically vibrant without pushing the lower and middle class out?
posted by melissam at 6:00 PM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Building more housing, while it would not fix all the issues, would at least allow lower and middle class folks to not be pushed out by direct economics.
posted by feckless at 6:57 PM on March 22, 2016


Without the option of sprawl (Houston), and without the benefit of a flat (Atlanta) or even declining (Pittsburgh, Chicago) population over the last 50 years, I am very skeptical SF could manufacture a comparable oversupply of housing anytime soon.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:45 PM on March 22, 2016


Most new housing would be luxury housing, so no, adding housing wouldn't really handle it. And even with set-asides for lower income units, in the end the numbers don't work out.
posted by rr at 8:28 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


But Solnit knows San Francisco history. She is deliberately erasing history in the name of polemic.

Not to mention, she's even further whitewashing SF history as some sort of socialistic city on a hill, as opposed to the oldest (in America), most blatantly mecca for literal gold diggers, a place founded in the name of profit and opportunism. She's harkening back to a time when the city was for anything else- the 60s? How many of those hippies on Haight-Ashbury are now the same Boomer homeowners who are profiting from the real estate prices?
posted by Apocryphon at 8:35 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


But actual techies? Mostly liberals, with a few libertarians and conservatives thrown in

Leftish leanings don't particularly keep you from being privileged and out-of-touch. I am though getting pretty sick of people who don't actually live in the Bay/work in the tech industry going on about how awful it is. The reason you know all these stories is there are people living here and/or working in that industry who care enough to write about it (and I'm not taking a shot at these people, quite the opposite). Perhaps try looking around in your own life. You might notice some things!
posted by atoxyl at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just to answer the "are British cops better" question - they aren't armed. And we don't really have handguns in the UK at all, so they don't really have to worry about getting shot, which makes it much safer for them to tackle erratic people by just jumping on them and physically subduing them. If you watch any of the UK police fly on the wall documentaries, they tend to use sheer weight of numbers to overpower people (literally ten police officers jumping on one person). They don't physically tackle people one on one, they wait until reinforcements arrive.

I wouldn't say that British police were intrinsically better than US police (it depends on where you are but plenty of them are racist and prejudiced against the poor), but the lack of guns means they don't murder people quite as often. We also don't have quite the same racial segregation as you do - there's far more class-based discrimination here.
posted by tinkletown at 3:14 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most new housing would be luxury housing, so no, adding housing wouldn't really handle it. And even with set-asides for lower income units, in the end the numbers don't work out.

Yes, we are having this argument here in Chicago. People object to nearly every new rental building because they tend to be more expensive than existing rentals, but then they aren't thinking about where the people who would live in these $$ rentals live when they don't exist. For example, I can afford a $$ rental and I live in a cheaper rental I got lucky to get (small apartments are in short supply in my neighborhood), but if I moved into a $$ rental, someone who really needs this cheaper rental could live here.
posted by melissam at 6:25 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


The reason you know all these stories is there are people living here and/or working in that industry who care enough to write about it (and I'm not taking a shot at these people, quite the opposite). Perhaps try looking around in your own life. You might notice some things!

Yeah, I think I know plenty about sexism in my own life. And notice it plenty. Isn't this a note-perfect example of mansplaining? Like I would be too busy criticizing SF culture to notice sexism in Chicago?

I think women in tech have a decent amount of power to rage quit a job and tell other people about it on the internet, which does make the industry look worse than other jobs, but what I hear about SF doesn't make it seem like an attractive place. The community of women in tech is small and word gets around even if people aren't writing about it. Plus a lot of us go to conferences across the US and get a sense of what the culture is like.
posted by melissam at 6:31 AM on March 23, 2016


For example, I can afford a $$ rental and I live in a cheaper rental I got lucky to get (small apartments are in short supply in my neighborhood), but if I moved into a $$ rental, someone who really needs this cheaper rental could live here.

Yeah, that's the theory behind increasing supply, and people are indeed building here on what free space there is: tons of luxe-looking multi-story apartment buildings have gone up just north of Potrero Hill into Mission Bay and Mission Rock, for instance. But demand is just so much higher than supply in SF (and free space is limited, unlike e.g. Houston or LA) that it's not clear when demand would actually be saturated by the addition of market-rate apartments. It could take many years of construction for rent to even stop increasing here, let alone go back down to pre-bubble prices.* Even relatively building-friendly cities like Seattle have only managed to add in the vicinity of 3K units/year; in contrast, from 2010 to 2014, SF's population increased by around 12.5K people per year.

And until rents actually decline, not just plateau, building more won't solve anything for the people who are made the most vulnerable by this wave of gentrification, and if it introduces a lot of wealthy white people into neighborhoods that are traditionally working-class and majority-PoC, as this case demonstrates, new construction can make local residents more vulnerable.

* The SF suburbs have also outright refused to build significant amounts of housing despite actually having land to build on and hosting some of the biggest employers in the Bay Area, which compounds the problem (see, e.g., Mountain View and San Mateo county). It also means it's hard to even solve the rent problem by leaving the city, since most of the South Bay suburbs have such tiny housing markets that their rents aren't even much cheaper than San Francisco's and prices in the East Bay are rising sharply now as well.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:00 AM on March 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


More and more I think straight-up income redistribution/wealth transfer on a big scale has to be a major part of solving this problem (in addition to policing and criminal justice reform). One small thing I wonder about is why SF hasn't levied a municipal income tax like NYC (SF has a payroll tax on companies based in SF, but since most of the major local tech employers are based in the suburbs south of the city, that seems like exactly the wrong incentive to set to me; in an overpopulated city, it makes more sense to me to tax residents making over a certain amount of money, so that either they move, freeing up units, or you can use their money to enact social programs benefiting the less-wealthy).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:04 AM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


You solve this problem by building public housing for low and middle income people. Already done in Japan for years.
posted by wuwei at 9:05 AM on March 23, 2016


Yeah, I think I know plenty about sexism in my own life. And notice it plenty. Isn't this a note-perfect example of mansplaining? Like I would be too busy criticizing SF culture to notice sexism in Chicago?

I apologize if I was over the line with that response - I was just bugged by what struck me as... outsider-splaining? I wasn't thinking about sexism in tech (so again, my bad if I completely missed your point) but about the broad gentrification issue and comments other people had made about race and "aren't you worried that NYC will turn into SF?" seemed a little rich for various reasons.
posted by atoxyl at 10:59 AM on March 23, 2016


Isn't this a note-perfect example of mansplaining?

I'd say someone telling me that my experience is invalid and even though they don't live/work in an area they know what's happening better than I do because they have heard stories is a much, much more note-perfect example of mansplaining.
posted by aspo at 11:09 AM on March 23, 2016


I'd say someone telling me that my experience is invalid and even though they don't live/work in an area they know what's happening better than I do because they have heard stories is a much, much more note-perfect example of mansplaining.

Nah let's not push this I actually was guilty of ignoring the possibility that she was talking about the dimension of sexism entirely, among other things. I just read a certain comments in a certain order and it - maybe falsely - set of my detector for "people completely omitting the East and South Asian population of SF/NorCal," from which a whole lot of my friends and colleagues are drawn. (Understand I don't mean Asian people aren't discriminated against here, I mean people talk about race in SF in a way that seems to forget that Asian people exist). And the comparison to NY in particular just seems - look they are different places and there's been a recent influx of money in SF that really kicked things into overdrive but it's not like there isn't a whole history and present of gentrification to worry about in NY.
posted by atoxyl at 11:34 AM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The reason you know all these stories is there are people living here and/or working in that industry who care enough to write about it

Friscosplaining is a rite of passage that is usually achieved within 5 years of moving to SF. These days it seems like there's been some inflation and people have been tackling the topic pretty quickly, within 2-3 years of arrival.
posted by rhizome at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The best is being on the receiving end of Friscosplaining by newcomers. Like the start-up CEO who's been here for nine months, who told me the biggest problem with SF is all the old buildings.

"The city should replace Victorians with lofts," he said. "And get rid of rent control, because it's against nature."

Then he started hyping his "smart jewelry" business model, but I was too busy calculating the expenses of relocating to Oregon to catch the details.
posted by Lyme Drop at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Alex Nieto Was Not Killed By Gentrification—It’s Worse Than That - talking more about Nieto's history and policing tactics that lead to his death.
posted by kendrak at 4:45 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The injustice in SF is far more intersectional than the original article portrays, it seems.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:50 PM on March 23, 2016


Not sure whether I trust an account coming from one of the 17 city magazines published by Modern Luxury ("the premier luxury lifestyle publisher in the United States") to present gentrification in a harsh light.
posted by gingerest at 8:23 PM on March 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am though getting pretty sick of people who don't actually live in the Bay/work in the tech industry going on about how awful it is.

I've been having this argument a few times recently with friends/acquaintances who live on the East Coast. An ex-coworker who lived here 10-15 years ago and has since returned to Boston complained that "every neighborhood in SF is now turning into the Marina" as if the entire place is now completely broverrun. Another one just split after two years here, complaining that the city was a nightmare of indifference (which, perhaps it may seem so to someone who came in on the DC Type-A train).

And I get it, to a degree: I have my litany of warnings for people who are thinking about moving here... but I love it. I live in the unsexy Richmond, which has great access to The Outdoors but sometimes can also feel like a bubble. Sleepy and remote, but diverse and mysterious still.

I can't help but be incredulous when people leverage these travesties of justice (re homelessness/gentrification/police violence) into a blanket statement that the city is Dead and/or Doomed. Perhaps I'm influenced by the experience of living in Oakland 15 years ago when outsiders still reacted with horror, thinking the entire city was an unending war zone. That city was healing then; this city is dealing with a very different pathology now, but neither should be a watchword for unlivable.
posted by psoas at 4:41 PM on March 24, 2016


Regarding kendrak's link -- "the real villain is the paucity of mental health services" -- you gotta wonder about mental health services the city can't afford due to the Twitter tax break...
posted by Lyme Drop at 4:53 PM on March 24, 2016


In reply to psoas, San Francisco is unliveable by definition to those who've been displaced. (And, just curious, do you consider today's Oakland to be healed?)
posted by Lyme Drop at 4:56 PM on March 24, 2016


I mentioned Oakland in the past tense because I lived there then. I can't speak to it fluently now, but I'm pretty confident "not a war zone" still obtains.
posted by psoas at 11:07 AM on March 25, 2016


It just struck me as a curious word choice, "healing." By one reading, since gentrification has been (arguably?) the biggest driver of change in Oakland, it implies that it's gentrification that is healing Oakland, which is a pretty loaded take on the situation, IMO.
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:31 AM on March 25, 2016


That certainly wasn't my intention; I was talking about the conventional wisdom up through the '90s that it it was riven by gang violence, drugs, and political assassinations. I wouldn't ascribe the abatement of violent crime (which occurred first) to later gentrification.
posted by psoas at 11:51 AM on March 25, 2016




That's not much of a self-defense.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:07 PM on March 29, 2016


The corpse in the library: "That's not much of a self-defense."

Totally agree. He readily admits he didn't have control over his dog and that it acted aggressively toward a stranger. Not cool, even for an off-leash park.
posted by crazy with stars at 1:33 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I went to the park, and this guy was acting really crazy! So I let my dog harass him, twice."
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:56 PM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know why people act like their off leash dog running up on someone is okay and/or harmless. I don't know your dog. I don't know you. I don't know if your dog has had all its shots. Especially in the case of larger (say 75lbs and up) dogs, they can inflict serious injuries on a healthy adult human. Frankly, a large enough dog is like a mobile, self-targeting deadly weapon and should be treated exactly the same way.
posted by wuwei at 7:24 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]




I bet Fark is not excited to be the reference point for this guy.
posted by rhizome at 12:57 PM on April 3, 2016


Good god, what an asshole. 'I let my dog attack other people, but it's their fault for having food.'
posted by tavella at 1:00 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Food that they apparently fed his dog on a regular basis, to the extent that he would leap up and harass them until they handed it over. And when someone got scared enough to threaten his dog, he called the police on them.

I don't think I've ever heard a more self-serving account of the events leading up to someone's death.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:49 PM on April 3, 2016


I don't think he's the one that actually called the cops, he's the one that let his dog repeatedly attack the guy so that he was freaked out and drew his taser (issued for his job.) It was someone else who saw a brown guy with a taser and decided that obviously they must be a dangerous criminal because they didn't belong in a park with the white people and thus called the cops. IIRC.

However, Snow is the one who texted a friend while leaving the park to say that if only he lived in Florida, he could have drawn a gun and blown the guy away like he deserved, so that gives you an idea of the sort of creep we are dealing with.
posted by tavella at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2016


No, on Fark he said he called the non-emergency police line but didn't get through. So he called the cops, he just didn't call 911.
posted by gingerest at 2:21 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aha, thanks for the clarification.
posted by tavella at 2:50 PM on April 4, 2016


In regards to the Fark people who keep blithering about how it's the victim's fault because obviously no one else is allowed in a off-leash area except for dogs: the entire top of Bernal Heights is an off-leash area, all 40 or so acres. It's a popular hiking and wildflower viewing area. It's not some 100 x 100 fenced in area just for dogs, not that your dog should be attacking other people even in a dog run, given other owners are there.
posted by tavella at 3:00 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]




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