Well like back in 2010 our Giants once again have won the World Series of Baseball and like back then, fans took to the streets to celebrate, Polk street was no exception well for the most part. How could so many people completely fill almost the entire length of lower Polk yet seemingly fit in to just a hand full of bars, the answer is they did not. Now before I get into the goings on on lower Polk we should also take into account that middle and upper Polk streets also had street celebrations but were not as, lets say extreme as the Polk/Gulch area was. I witnessed the street celebrations on Irving and 9th ave and that was a fun fill event with little kids running around, people shaking the cops hands, hugging complete strangers, lighting fire crackers, singing chanting, music playing, you get the picture. What makes lower Polk so different?
The city condemns riot type celebrations as they very well should, no one likes a party-er that spoils the fun for other law abiding citizens exercising their God given right to cheers for their Champion team. But in the aftermath of the celebration, city officials are quick to pounce and start blaming local establishments about crowd control, how they had to call in the Riot cops, to regain order on the streets, etc etc.
Back to my point, the amount of people on Polk street that night, did not all come from the bars, cafes and Restaurants on or around Polk street, they came from the Free show the city put on at the Civic Center, about 10,000 fans gathered around a big screen to cheer on our team beat Detroit in a sweep on Sunday 28th 2012. What happened once they won, well the expected, fans started a city wide street party, those who did not stay in the city center, moved outwards, down to Mission, Market, North beach and of course the closest area was Polk Street.
Since most city residents of the drinking age group know Polk street is a great nightlife area, it probably seemed like the next logical step, especially since in 2010 it was one of the streets that had a great party after we won the series that year. So what did the City think was going to happen? They did not take into consideration the demographics of this city. Irving street party goers many of whom are Native had a blast, it’s Inner Sunset and they won’t allow there neighborhood to be trashed. Even the cops were laid back and enjoying the scene. Same happened in 2010. But if you say had a Large Screen set up 5 or six blocks away, with 10,000 non hood residence, even people who do not hail or live in San Francisco, do you think Irving street residents would allow their children to join in the celebrations, of course not, which makes my point.
Mission street is not the safest hood in the city, not the worst but most natives and residents alike will agree, we here about shootings, stabbings, gang related stories all the time out of the neighborhood, I’m not say all of the Mission, I know plenty of great people who live on great friendly streets down/over there. My point being, it does not surprise me that partying got out of hand in that hood either.
Back to Polk, so we have just added to an already pretty packed scene about 2000 to 3000 more out of hood possibly many out of city revelers, nor will a few have any respect for our personal and public property, it was absolutely NO surprise that things got out of hand. Now while I praise the SFPD most of the time, they have a hard enough job to do on any given day, I did here stories of a more aggressive SFPD and Sheriffs Dept, on the night of the party. Many told me that on a few occasion, that the Police caused allot of tension, specifically when several lined the street wearing full riot gear, when in fact there was no riot. Yes there were a few hanging from traffic lights, throwing champagne bottles after they sprayed them, as well as beer bottles, those need to be taking care of, but seriously Full Riot gear? Why not do what New Orleans do when its time to clear the streets. line a few dozen cops in regular uniforms, start at one end and passively disperse the crowds at a reasonable hour.
In general, there was no serious if any property damage when I walked lower Polk the following morning, a little messy, but hey, that’s to be expected. Overall excluding a few bonfires, including a MUNI bus, several fights, arrests, I think we weathered the overall Party night well. It’s a learning experience, one I hope we get used to… Go Giants!