Police

San Francisco's War on Fun

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This San Francisco Bay Guardian feature on the city's seeming "war on fun" is an interesting object lesson in how the concerns, obsessions, and plain obnoxious orneriness of just a couple of cops can shape a whole city's approach to policing.

The heart of the matter:

Two undercover enforcers have been at the center of just about every recent case of nightclubs or private parties being raided without warrants and aggressively shut down, their patrons roughed up (see "Fun under siege," 4/21/09) and their money, booze, and equipment punitively seized "as evidence" (see "Police seize DJs laptops," 11/24/09) even though few of these raids result in charges being filed in court.

Officer Larry Bertrand of the San Francisco Police Department's Southern Station and Michelle Ott, an agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, are plainclothes partners who spend their weekends undercover, crashing parties, harassing disfavored nightclubs, brutalizing party-goers, and trying to send the unmistakable message that they're in charge of San Francisco nightlife. Neither responded to our interview requests.

Isolated incidents of intolerant cops and NIMBY citizens who repeatedly complain about certain clubs or festivals has been a problem for years (see "Death of fun," 5/24/06 and "Death of fun, the sequel," 4/24/07)….

But the personal War of Fun by Bertrand and Ott seems to have galvanized and united the nightlife and festival community like never before, leading to the creation of a new California Music and Culture Association and prompting threats of a federal lawsuit alleging the ABC-SFPD collaboration is a racketeering scheme designed to harass, disrupt, and extort people engaged in otherwise lawful activity.

The myriad horror stories associated with Bertrand and Ott have also finally begun to draw attention from the Mayor's Office, which has quietly pushed the SFPD to rein in Bertrand and change its policies on raiding parties and seizing property.

Previous Hit and Run blogging from the frontlines of the San Fran war on fun.

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  1. Link goes to a story about an LA carbon tax dude.

    1. As a public service, the correct link.

      Those cops sound like people who never got invited to parties, couldn’t sit at the cool kids table in the lunchroom, had to take their cousin to the prom and resent it.

      1. Link is now correct in the entry, thanks J Sub D.

      2. Nah, they’re the corrupt of the corrupt. Bet they’re snagging coke, pills, bottles of expensive liquor, all manner of drugs and contraband that isn’t getting “reported”.

      3. I never sat at the cool kids table, and you don’t see me doing shit like that. Fuck, I bet those two WERE the one of the cooltards.

    2. Carbon taxes are no fun. Loophole!

  2. dbcooper,

    So, you really did make out of those woods alive.

    1. He never spent the $200,000, you know. We could have a serious party.

  3. The biggest, fastest improvement that could be made to this country would be to give San Francisco the same treatment we gave Dresden in WWII.

    1. You can say that again!

    2. I’ve partied in San Francisco on several occasions. It’s a damned fine place to have a rollickin’ good time. That these two douchebag cops seemed to make it their mission in life to end that makes me want to kick both of them (and their respective supervisors who are suposed to be, y’know, supervising them) in the junk.

    3. The Big One should do it. Just a matter of time. Tick…tick…tick…

  4. The biggest, fastest improvement that could be made to this country would be to give San Francisco the same treatment we gave Dresden in WWII.

    1. I’m sorry. What?

      1. I think he’s advocating the senseless and indiscriminate destruction of a major city.

        He probably didn’t like the way Slaughterhouse V turned out, and thought we should take another whack at killing innocent people.

  5. I must not have fun. Fun is the time-killer. Fun is for inferiors, servants and the help. I will ignore fun. I will work through it. And when the fun is gone only I will remain–I, and my will to win. Damn, I’m good.

    1. When you survive imprinting from ME, then you shall be deemed “good”!

  6. Neither responded to our interview requests.

    *That’s* no fun.

  7. Has any ambitious publicity-craving raver group thrown a Bertrand/Ott Bait Party?

  8. …change its policies on raiding parties and seizing property.

    I read that as “raiding panties”. I also assume Bertrand and Ott look like this.

  9. Are these guys trying to kill San Fran singlehandedly? I mean, what else does it have besides nightlife? You’ve got high taxes, horribly inefficient local gov, unions, terribly run public services. Beyond nightlife and food, which surely the nannystatists can’t be far away on, why else would you live there?

    1. Yeah, and when they flee San Francisco, they’ll bring their stupid leftism with them. Fuck.

    2. Kari Byron lives there. Just sayin’

      1. Sugarfree’d the link. Just google her. She’s hot.

        1. Uh, and she just gave birth. Don’t think she has time for the likes of y’all.

          1. Maybe he wants the titty fairy to pay a visit

    3. Ben Kenobi|3.24.10 @ 9:17PM|#
      “… You’ve got high taxes, horribly inefficient local gov, unions, terribly run public services.”
      You left out governmental corruption. Willy Brown sort of set the standard, but the current group of lefty thugs does pretty well also. The sad part is that the brain-dead mayor is the *best* of the lot.

      “Beyond nightlife and food, which surely the nannystatists can’t be far away on, why else would you live there?”
      Well, as everywhere and always, the market exists. Distorted as it is by the local government, it turns out that if you bought a while back, that distortion has pushed property values far above free-market valuations, thank you.
      Plus (or maybe in part causing the increase), it is visually beautiful. Truly beautiful.
      And sleazy; some of us elected that hag Pelosi.

    4. My wife used to do a lot of business travel setting up conferences n’ sech. Of all the big cities she went to, San Francisco was the only one she didn’t like. She said it was dirty, overrun with bums, and she never really felt safe.
      But hey, as long as the folks who want to live in SF stay in SF, more power to ’em.

      1. It’s really beautiful…at night. During the day, it’s grimy and disgusting. Highlight of my last trip there a few years back was, as we were driving out of town, headed for the Golden Gate and on to Sonoma, we saw a gang fight of bums, wailing on each other. Dirt vs. Dirt, really.

      2. I was there last year? year before? and holy crap is that city dirty and overrun with bums, beggars, and grimy people jes’ hanging out.

  10. I had a love/hate relationship with the city when I lived there. Loved the site, the weather, the architecture, and the “small town/big city” feel. Hated the people, the government, and the fact that barbacks snatch your drink out of your hands 15 minutes *before* last call.

  11. Old Mexican, where are you!?

    Can’t…hold on…much…longer…

    Need….Old Mexican…help us. Please…

  12. California Music and Culture Association and prompting threats of a federal lawsuit alleging the ABC-SFPD collaboration is a racketeering scheme designed to harass, disrupt, and extort people engaged in otherwise lawful activity.

    Oooh, so lessee here how this would work in ProgressiveLand. In ProgressiveLand, this is a “group” of individuals, forming and pooling their resources. As such, they have no right to freedom of speech, and their political activity can be freely regulated by the very agents of the state attempting to shut them down.

  13. LA > SD > SF That’s how it is.

    1. LA > SD > SF That’s how it is.

  14. Perhaps I’m too plain in my thinking here.

    Of course I am. So just ignore the following…

    But we have the officers identified by name. Am I to rightly believe that having photos of these individuals availbe to said party organizers would somehow violate something? So you put security at your door and if these to fwads show up you respond with “warrant up buddy”?

  15. Fun SHOULD be outlawed. How can we be good, patriotic servants if we aren’t spending our every waking moment earning taxable income to feed the welfare programs?

    Chad is right… non-liberals ARE selfish bastards.

  16. Officer Larry Bertrand of the San Francisco Police Department’s Southern Station and Michelle Ott, an agent with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, are plainclothes partners who spend their weekends undercover, crashing parties, harassing disfavored nightclubs, brutalizing party-goers, and trying to send the unmistakable message that they’re in charge of San Francisco nightlife.

    Is anyone else thinking SITCOM?

  17. I was thinking more along the lines of “these people should be found, beaten senseless, in a dumpster.”

  18. San Francisco is a shithole?

    Who could have predicted that?

  19. I dropped my wallet in SF once. Kicked it all the way to Oakland.

  20. Wow. Seems like a lot of generalities here. If you want an interview to get ABC’s perspective, John Carr is the ABC’s public information officer, and can
    be reached at john.carr@abc.ca.gov
    or call 916-419-2500. I’m sure he’d be more than happy to provide information.

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