UPDATED: Board narrowly approves closing city parks at night


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today narrowly approved Sup. Scott Wiener’s legislation to close parks and large plazas from midnight to 5am, a measure that Wiener said was about preventing vandalism but which progressive activists called an attack on the homeless.Read more »

Smartphones trigger rise in crime rate as new iPhone features a fingerprint lock


Violent crime is on the rise in the Bay Area and the San Francisco Police Department chalks it up to smartphone snatchers, a trend that is being countered by an initiative from the District Attorney’s Office and today's announcement by Apple of a new iPhone that requires the owner's fingerprint to unlock.Read more »

ABC shows more concern about expanding police video surveillance than Mayor Lee


The SFPD has quietly expanded its reach and authority to obtain video surveillance from in and around bars, clubs, and markets through a condition it has begun recommending on new liquor licenses, as I reported in today's issue, effectively bypassing controls on city-operated surveillance cameras established through extensive public hearings in 2005.Read more »

Reflecting on violence at the SF Commune


Occupy San Francisco protesters entered Catholic Church-owned properties at 888 Turk last night. This is the same building that a similar group occupied April 1, in a peaceful action that lasted about 24 hours. 

The successful reentry was a testament to the spread of skills and cultures surrounding building takeovers by groups like Homes Not Jails. The resulting “rebirth of the SF Commune” was a mellow and pleasant event at first, as protesters on a march from the celebratory Peoples Street Festival joined in the commune. Some held back in the street while others entered the building in hopes of building a “community center”—most remained outside the building, enjoying a free meal cooked and served by some of the same Occupy SF kitchen volunteers that once fed hundreds of people daily at Justin Herman Plaza.

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Fly Benzo sentenced to three years probation


Debray Carpenter, aka Fly Benzo, was sentenced in court April 27. He received three years of probation with a long list of conditions.

Benzo, student at City College, was arrested at an Oct. 18 rally in Mendell Plaza. During that incident, police officers John Norment and Joshua Fry of the Bayview precinct apparently unplugged a boombox that they said was not authorized in a street outlet. Then, when officers began videotaping Benzo, he took out his camera phone and began videotaping them as well. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault of a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest by Judge Jerome Benson on Feb 22.

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Parents in San Francisco: we want justice for Trayvon Martin


"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," President Obama reflected today. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's death, said Obama, “I can only imagine what these parents are going through.”Read more »

Bayview man who filmed cops convicted


In a case that has gained notoriety in San Francsico, Debray Carpenter, also known as Fly Benzo, was convicted Feb. 22 of two misdemeanors.

Benzo was filming the police with his cell phone camera at the time of his arrest. Videos of his arrest are available online.

Video evidenceRead more »

Why do evictions continue despite widespread banking fraud?


Do you think a groundbreaking report – showing that 84 percent of foreclosures in San Francisco over the last three years involved faulty paperwork, some of it amounting to fraud – would finally mean swift justice for victims of those crimes?

Think again.Read more »

Will shutting down two businesses really 'clean up' the Tenderloin?


It was noon on the Jan. 30 when I broke the news to 24-year-old Amer Mousa that the City of San Francisco was filing a civil suit to shut down Walid Abdulrahman, his friend and owner of the Razan Deli on Ellis Street in the Tenderloin.

Two hours earlier, City Attorney Dennis Herrera and San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr held a press conference out the front of the Azaal Market on the corner of Leavenworth and Turk streets in the Tenderloin to announce the dual lawsuits against the markets owners, Jaber A. Algahim and Walid Abdulrahman, for maintaining a public nuisance. Our efforts to get comments from Algahim and Abdulrahman were not successful, but Mousa spoke freely about the situation.

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Police foot patrols help with crime drop in SF


The Mayor’s Office and San Francisco Police Department this morning sent out a press release announcing a decrease in violent crime in 2011, citing a number of factors for the drop but failing to mention an important and once-controversial one: increased police foot patrols.

But Police Chief Greg Suhr told us that foot patrols are a big part of the community policing techniques – and “community policing” was indeed mentioned in the release – responsible for the drop.Read more »