By Darling Gonzalez
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A set of viral videos Friday showed thieves ransacking high-end retail stores like Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent on Union Square, followed by a dramatic video of San Francisco police officers responding to the scene.
One viral video on Twitter by user @Yealenne caught three police officers rushing and surrounding a vehicle using their batons to break the car windows as a patrol car swiftly drove to block the vehicle from exiting.
According to Carolyn Said and Danielle Echeverria’s article “S.F. leaders promise crackdown after night of coordinated thefts in Union Square,” police Chief Bill Scott responded to the incident by outlining the police department’s efforts in a news conference.
Scott mentioned that while “confronting the armed individuals,” police made eight arrests Friday night, and seized two vehicles and two guns.
He also said he expected more arrests and that all of the arrested individuals were young adults who engaged in the crime as a “concerted effort” but stopped short of calling it an organized crime.
Said and Echeverria’s article indicated Chief Scott had also stated that there would be a new placement of police officers in public parking lots every day, around the clock.
“We are going to flood the area,” Scott said, “and we’re not going to stop at Union Square.”
However, what does this presentation of a public and extreme use of police force on the thieves on Union Square mean in the political battle happening between conservatives who are attempting to remove District Attorney Boudin from office, and those who support Boudin and his goal of progressive systemic change in SF?
Alex Shultz makes an appealing response to this use of police force in his SFGATE article, “Police say their Union Square takeover is just the beginning. Do SF’s avowed ‘liberals’ even care?”
Shultz writes, “There are obviously voters who are genuinely concerned about crime…but there’s a far more influential donor class full of wealthy liberals and conservatives who’ve teamed up to take out Boudin. That’s why SFPD has initiated an openly politicized temper tantrum in the name of saving handbags, not human lives.”
Tim Redmond’s article, “GOP donors and allies pour more big money into the Chesa Boudin recall” mentions the staggering $720,000 collected by nine big contributors—more than half coming from Republicans or donors for the Republican Party.
“Together, GOP allies gave $450,000 in June to a committee called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco. Almost all of that money, records show, was then funneled to committees working on the recall,” Redmond said.
Furthermore, to add to the “bogeyman” outlook of Boudin’s leadership Shultz mentions the substantial noise of social media and broadcast networks’ influence on a false narrative of Boudin rather than focusing on the hard facts of his goals and progress as D.A.
Shultz states how “[s]cary anecdotes pushed especially hard by local TV reporters have driven the narrative about Boudin’s tenure, but those anecdotes aren’t backed by data, which…shows a mishmash of statistical noise rather than a clear pattern.”
Shultz continued, stating that based on data, year after year both burglaries and robberies in SF were down and total crime had only been up by eight percent in 2021 in comparison to 2020 when people were generally avoiding other people and isolating due to the pandemic.
As a response to the recall effort, DA Boudin reflected upon the necessity of reform, regardless of the time and effort necessary to do so, in The New York Times article, “San Francisco’s Top Prosecutor Will Face a Recall Election” by Tim Arango.
In Arango’s article, Boudin openly expressed, “This is a question of whether we’re going to go forward and continue to implement data-driven policies that center crime victims, that invest in communities impacted by crime, and that use empirical evidence to address root causes of crime in our communities (or) if we’re going to go back to the failed policies of Reagan and Trump.”