Over the weekend, San Francisco saw a renewed round of rioting and destruction of public property that stretched from Friday night until Sunday morning. The focus of most of the unrest was the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. As is now the routine of the mob, plenty of statues were torn down with the rest being tagged with graffiti. A couple of the figures portrayed in these monuments were slave owners prior to the Civil War, but others included a famous man who fought to free the slaves and another who was a slave himself. The local CBS outlet provided video coverage of the aftermath, along with reactions from locals who came out to view the destruction and a tardy and tepid response from the Mayor. And as we’ll see in a moment, some of the graffiti was far from “peaceful,” signaling far worse to come.
Among the suddenly-empty pedestals, one that held Star-Spangled Banner poet Francis Scott Key, a man who, in fact, owned slaves. Another held Junipero Serra, founder of California missions and also a slave owner…
But the crowd wasn’t finished with the toppling of the Key and Sera statues. They also knocked down the monument to former Pres. Ulysses S. Grant who, as Union general accepted the surrender of the Confederacy then, later, sent U.S. troops to fight the Ku Klux Klan.
“I don’t get Ulysses S. Grant because he was fighting for the abolition of slavery, not for slavery,” a man named Seth told KPIX. “So I don’t understand why (his statue) would be taken out.”
Vandalized but not removed was a statue of Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer who was himself a slave for five years.
Before we get to some of the more horrific details, here’s the brief CBS video coverage of the riot in progress and its aftermath.
So they took down the statues of Francis Scott Key, Junipero Serra and… Ulysses Grant. They tagged the other statues with spray paint. And guess who was watching this all unfold. The police. Yes, San Francisco’s finest were on hand and they simply stood there and watched all of the destruction unfold. You can rest assured that this wasn’t a decision made by the cops. The instructions to stand down came from City Hall. And this is after the Mayor already endorsed new “police reform” measures that include barring cops from responding to “neighborhood disputes.”
And the cops may have more than that to worry about. Check out this lovely piece of street art, where one of the “peaceful protesters” scrawled the words “Kill Cops” across a street sign. (Click for full size image)
So what did Mayor London Breed have to say about all of this? After weeks of coddling the rioters on a daily basis, she finally decided to speak up. Well… sort of. I suppose hearing any form of disapproval from her is an improvement.
There is very real pain in this country rooted in our history of slavery and oppression, especially against African-Americans and Indigenous people. I know that pain all too well. But the damage done to our park last night went far beyond just the statues that were torn down, and included significant damage to Golden Gate Park. Every dollar we spend cleaning up this vandalism takes funding away from actually supporting our community, including our African-American community. I say this not to defend any particular statue or what it represents, but to recognize that when people take action in the name of my community, they should actually involve us. And when they vandalize our public parks, that’s their agenda, not ours.
Do you think a single person intent on causing destruction is going to be scared off by the Mayor’s comments? She once again starts off by apologizing and excusing all of this rioting in the name of the “very real pain” resulting from the country’s history of slavery. She also implies that if it were *only* the statues being torn down, that would probably be okay. But the rest of the vandalism they have to clean up is a (small) step too far. Will anyone be punished for this? Nope. But the money they have to spend cleaning up the park will take away from funding needed to “support our African-American community.”
The Mayor is not on the side of law and order. She has surrendered the streets of her city to rioters and looters and she’s keeping the police force on the sideline. She has abdicated her responsibilities. But guess what, San Francisco. You overwhelmingly voted her into office knowing precisely how she planned to lead. Like the rest of these cities we’ve been covering lately, you got exactly what you asked for. So there’s no sympathy coming from my direction.