Friday, October 24, 2008

Join the SFPD: Great Job Security. Get Paid to Assault Civilians.

How's Friday Treating You?
However it's been, it's surely been a Cake Walk compared to the Friday experienced by a young SF musician who goes by the name "Ashtray".

It was a beautiful day here in San Francisco, today.
A little on the Excessively Bright and Sunny-Side for myself... but, I know most people enjoy that sort of thing much more than I.

I worked on my eBay listings and then gathered Jessie the Dog and headed towards the Panhandle Park. When we were leaving, I found a handwritten note - in all caps - that said, "THE COPS BEAT UP MY BROTHER HERE". Curious, but not surprising. I didn't think too much of it at the time and we continued towards the Park. Thankfully, we found plenty of shade under the trees. There were people who were laying out in the sun, others playing with their dogs, joggers, cyclists, a few older and several young people who live outdoors... one of these young men was playing guitar and singing pleasantly.

One of the street kids who knows me approached... "Did you hear what happened?", he asked. "Oh, Gd.", I thought. After living in the Haight-Ashbury for several years and doing a lot of homeless youth outreach work from my own resources, I've come to hate that innocent question and every variation thereof. It has all too often been followed up with the announcement of the sudden, unexpected, tragic and sometimes violent death of a young homeless boy or girl whom I'd known and developed a friendship with. A familiar, yet unwelcome, feeling of dread started to well up inside my chest. "You know Ashtray, right?", the young man continued. I started to scan the faces of the kids I know in my mind. My expression must have told him I wasn't sure. He continued, "He's got dreads and plays the guitar. He usually has a Grateful Dead shirt on. He often sits in front of your house and plays the guitar." "Shit!", I thought. Now I was really feeling bad about not being able to place the name and a face. I don't have the best memory for such things... I blame that getting-thrown-off-a-horse-and-hitting-the-ground-head-first incident that I've mentioned before.

The sweet young man continued, "Well, Ashtray was sitting in the front of Golden Gate Park playing his guitar and this cop came up to him and told him to "Get out of the Park!"." "Ashtray stopped playing and said "No, sir. I don't have to go anywhere. I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm just playing my guitar."" Ashtray was probably frustrated at what was only the latest in a long and endless line of quality-of-life profiling and police harassment. "Suddenly the cop pulls out his night stick, swings and cracks Ashtray hard across the front of his face. Then, when Ashtray was down on the pavement, the cops began stomping him and kicking him really hard. (Apparently, a second cop was present and before long a lot of them showed up.) There's still a pool of Ashtray's blood on the sidewalk.". I was now concerned that Ashtray was dead. "Jeez! This happened in broad daylight?", I was incredulous. The young man nodded and said, "Yeah." "Is Ashtray OK?", I asked. "I don't know. They took him to the hospital. We're going to go see him right now.", and he motioned in the direction of St. Mary's Hospital on Stanyan Street - the closest. I then realized that several other homeless kids had gathered and were joining him. "I hope he's alright.", I said. "Give him my best.".


After this conversation, I no longer wanted to stay in the Park and play with the Dog. I dropped Jessie off at home and grabbed my digital camera. I had already decided to try to find out the name of the dkhead thug officer and to find the pool of Ashtray's blood and photograph it for this Blog.

I didn't find it on the first trip. There's a fair amount of ground to cover in the front of the Park and I hadn't gotten an exact location of where the incident took place.

As I ran a few errands in the neighborhood, I noticed something different. Carefully placed at various points along the sidewalks, taped to the sides of trucks parked along Haight Street and posted to blank sections of walls and storefronts were more and more of the handwritten signs on white paper - like I had found earlier. They said things like: "WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ASHTRAY?" and "WHEN ARE THE COPS GOING TO WAKE UP" with a Peace Sign on top. There was a huge sign on the sidewalk - propped up against the wall - in front of The Red Vic Movie Theater, written in black capital letters, on a piece of cardboard that was at least 3ft. long! It cried out for Justice and an end to Police Brutality. It mentioned starting a Revolution.

Wow... Something unusual is going on here. I mean, this certainly isn't the first case of SFPD brutality... and definitely not the first case of SFPD brutality against an unarmed homeless civilian who was doing nothing more than playing guitar in the Park when he was assaulted by a sociopathic cop.

What's different today is the response of the public. Lots of people are talking about it... Witnesses, residents, tourists... lots of them... and they are all horrified at what happened.

As awful as this assault must have been to Ashtray, at least the dickhead cop who beat him down and then kicked him repeatedly chose to commit this vicious crime in BROAD DAYLIGHT and IN FRONT OF MANY WITNESSES... several of whom VIDEOTAPED THE ATTACK.


Oh, as you can see above, I did go back and I found Ashtray's pool of blood. Several homeless kids were gathered around as if they were standing vigil. Someone had written "HEY YOU!" above the pool with an arrow pointing at it. Other writing encircled the bloodstain. Two SFPD officers - each on a bicycle - rode up to the scene, stopped and just stared for a minute. Someone asked about what happened and one of the kids standing there motioned towards the officers and said, "Why don't you go ask them." I began taking photographs with a flash. I would have taken the officers' photographs - I had a feeling they were trying to intimidate the people standing vigil - but, at this point they quickly left the scene.

I did find out the offensive and offending officer's name: It's OFFICER KELLY (sp?). He's out of Park Station. Caucasian. Average build. The Captain of Park Station is Teresa Bennett.

I can only hope that the witnesses come forward and file formal complaints.

If you witnessed this assault - or any assault by a Police Officer - Please File A Complaint!

I have done this a few times. At the very least, the incident/complaint will be noted in the officer's permanent file. We must document these assaults and identify these brutal rogue cops and press the Police Commission and the Mayor to FIRE THESE VIOLENT THUGS... and hopefully send them to PRISON... where violent thugs belong.

The SFPD should not tolerate cops who brutalize civilians nor allow them to remain in their ranks.

To do so only does damage to the reputation of the SFPD and damages its relationship with the public.

It also damages San Francisco and it's reputation around the world. Residents and tourists witnessed this assault and will undoubtedly return home and tell friends and family about it.

What happened to the victim of this violent attack?
Ashtray is now in jail.
Is that fucked up or what?

Officer Kelly, consider yourself persona non gratia... We do.

As for me, I'm carrying my camera with me Everywhere... and I can't wait to catch you and/or your fellow gang members committing acts of brutality and then contact the local (and national) news with the story and photos, you pieces of shit.

Peace... to Everyone but them.

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