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The Dark Side of Police Reform

Gay rights, black neighborhoods, and how reformers paved the way for Eric Garner

The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972, by Christopher Lowen Agee, University of Chicago Press, 256 pages, $45

cover detailcover detailTo patronize a gay bar in 1950s San Francisco, first you had to find it. As one gay rights activist remembers, "There were no signs...You would walk by a Gay bar 50 times and not know it was a Gay bar." Once inside, you had to remain wary. That gentleman smiling at you might be a flirt, but he might be an undercover cop. Leaving the bar presented its own risks. If you happened to tangle with the neighborhood patrolman, he might jail you for the night on drunkenness charges and send your name to the newspaper. The next morning, writes historian Christopher Lowen Agee in his book The Streets of San Francisco, "arrested bar-goers often went home to find themselves in the press and out of a job."

If you owned a gay bar in 1950s San Francisco, there were ways of protecting your patrons from harassment, thereby maintaining a clientele, but it would cost you. An old-time bartender tells Agee about the lieutenant who came in one morning and explained that he needed $500 a month for—supposedly—the Police Athletic League: "The captain'll be by to collect it next Tuesday at 7:30." That was on top of the captain's monthly expectation of dinner and a prostitute.

In the 1958 film Vertigo, detective Scottie Ferguson visits a college classmate who worries that "San Francisco's changed. The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast." Presumably he was not referring to gay bars, but it was true that San Francisco was changing. Among the city's working-class Irish and Italian families and colorful cadres of artists and poets now lived growing numbers of white-collar professionals and "clean government" crusaders. In the late 1950s, a group of gay bar owners made the shrewd calculation that San Francisco's up-and-coming leaders cared about corruption more than they worried about homosexuality, and they confronted the police chief, who quickly recognized the public relations value of a high-profile crackdown on graft. The so-called "gayola" scandals culminated in 1960 with the month-long criminal trial of two sergeants and two patrolmen accused of demanding payoffs.

Jurors acquitted all four officers, but the fact of the trial itself sent a strong message. Now, in the aftermath of police raids, San Francisco's gay community could count on support from liberal clergy members and attorneys who volunteered their services; from judges, who increasingly were vocally skeptical of anti-gay prosecutions; and from the ascendant San Francisco Chronicle, whose popular columnists lampooned the police as stilted rubes out of step with their lovably libertine city. In response to mounting criticism and narrowing legal options, the San Francisco police chief ended organized raids on gay bars in 1965 and even established a gay community liaison within the police department.

If Agee's story ended there, it would be a happy ending: the triumph of modern, cosmopolitan governance over bribes and billy clubs. But Agee's story does not end there. In a telling detail, Agee notes what happened to two of the officers implicated in the gayola trial. Although they were acquitted in court, the police department disciplined them internally by transferring them to Potrero Station, which had jurisdiction over the poor and predominantly black neighborhood of Hunters Point. Staffed by a motley crew of rookies and cops with a history of trouble, Potrero was, in one officer's description, "the anal sphincter of the police department," and its officers enjoyed free rein to administer beatdowns, or worse, to San Franciscans who were young, black, and poor.

The gayola cops' transfer to Potrero encapsulates the double-edged narrative that structures The Streets of San Francisco. Agee, who teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, chronicles how the traditional regime of decentralized, discretionary, corrupt policing was replaced with the top-down, bureaucratic, and ostensibly more regulated urban police departments that we know today. As a result, many city dwellers feel free to socialize in whatever bars or gender combinations they please. But as last year's Black Lives Matter movement highlighted, the costs and benefits of modern American policing have not been distributed evenly.

Through a series of scandals and court cases in the 1950s and '60s, San Francisco activists curtailed the prerogative of police to enforce gender and sexual norms. Gays, lesbians, beats, and hippies shrewdly aligned themselves with the development agenda of downtown business elites, who envisioned the city as both a modern, sophisticated village for an increasingly white-collar workforce and an avant-garde but still family-friendly tourist destination. In this vision, police officers should not be orchestrating prudish crackdowns on beatnik poetry readings, and they shouldn't be running gritty protection rackets for gambling dens and underground brothels either. A powerful coalition of yuppies, artists, lawyers, and bartenders—a group Agee labels "cosmopolitan liberals"—redefined the role of urban police around an updated version of John Stuart Mill's harm principle, in which "the state was justified in policing only activities that physically or materially harmed others." In 1968, San Francisco's newly elected mayor, the millionaire attorney Joseph Alioto, appointed a commission to investigate "what crime really should be in a modern society." Alioto implied that modern police should leave consenting adults alone and focus instead on "real crime."

While recognizing its achievements, Agee is relentless in exposing the blind spots in Alioto-style urban politics. For one thing, cosmopolitan liberals were never equal-opportunity defenders of free speech, sexual or otherwise. They were most comfortable protecting expression that appealed to mainstream heterosexual men—the emerging Playboy demographic—or that purported to be highbrow art. Agee perceptively diagrams the elisions at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's obscenity trial for publishing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," in which a parade of scholarly expert witnesses misrepresented Ginsberg's poem as an inscrutable literary puzzle denuded of any sexual charge. By the late 1960s, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) left bookstores and gentlemen's clubs alone, but it continued to arrest peddlers of what Agee calls "low-culture smut" and to harass politically subversive newspapers.

Similarly, Mayor Alioto welcomed brokered negotiations with activists, but happily loosed the "tac squad"—an elite crowd-control unit—against protestors who refused to limit their demonstrations to City Hall–approved venues. When students and other protestors picketed San Francisco State University for four months in late 1968 and early 1969, Alioto's tac squad injured about 80 protestors in the course of making arrests. "If you are very liberal toward dissent," Alioto explained, "you can be a little bit tougher...in terms of law enforcement."

On issues of race and police brutality, San Francisco liberals were at their most myopic. Throughout the 1950s and '60s, black San Franciscans filed scores of complaints about assaults by beat cops, and the city's black newspapers filled their pages with "grisly photographs of the victims' cut and swollen faces." At the same time, black San Francisco suffered from police neglect. One young resident described a community dance where officers turned a blind eye to a flagrantly dangerous situation: "Fights going on...And then this cat pulls out a gun and starts firing. Man, he was five feet away from them cops and they stood there! Just stood looking!" Even as San Francisco's self-congratulatory modern liberals stripped officers of discretion to police obscenity, they continued to tolerate and even encourage unfettered police discretion in black neighborhoods. Alioto made overtures to black community leaders, but described his goal as preventing "hate 'whitey' racism" from "finding outlet in brutal crime"—not protecting blacks themselves from brutality. Cosmopolitan liberals simply did not extend their harm principle to blacks. In their view, gang violence and riots in black neighborhoods justified viewing all blacks as culturally prone to violence and therefore as legitimate targets for tough policing.

Agee nimbly skewers the contradictions of 20th century liberalism, explaining that the same big-city politicians would embrace sexual liberation under the guise of "promoting the arts" one day, then wake up the next day and sic cops with bayonets on an anti-war rally. He is less clear in explaining how the emerging war on drugs fit into the cosmopolitan liberal vision. As Agee notes, by the late 1960s an increasingly lucrative heroin market was generating much of the violence that the SFPD was charged with stamping out, both in the hippie enclave of Haight-Ashbury and in the predominantly black neighborhood of Hunters Point. At the same time, Alioto, backed by the Chronicle, justified aggressive raids on hippie gatherings—complete with tear gas and pepper spray—through cartoonish descriptions of crazed, drug-addled youth who might turn violent. Local activists in the Haight, Agee writes, "fumed" over Alioto's tactics, charging that large-scale raids only "netted narcotics-using 'victims' while failing to address the 'root of this evil,' 'the organized suppliers and dealers of illegal drugs." While it is not surprising that a mainstream figure like Alioto took a hard line on drugs, I would have liked to know more about the grassroots activists' views. Did they extend the cosmopolitan liberals' harm principle to encompass drug users, or did they accept that drugs should be illegal and object only to Alioto's tactics? Was anyone in the cosmopolitan liberal coalition seriously discussing decriminalization?

Readers also might question whether San Francisco's history offers much insight into broader national trends. After all, flower children flocked to the Summer of Love precisely because San Francisco resembled no other place in America. But Agee makes a strong case that it was an early adopter of policing strategies and ideas about urban governance that later took hold in cities throughout the United States. Gay activists in 1970s Chicago followed the San Francisco playbook when they leveraged a payola scandal to gain a foothold in city politics. Alioto's rhetoric about "real crime" was echoed by Seattle's young mayor, Wes Uhlman, who vowed in 1974 that police should be "enforcing felony crimes that do have victims" rather than "wandering around...looking for gays." By the 1980s, Agee suggests, various versions of the "cosmopolitan liberal" coalition wielded influence in many (if not all) American cities. Urban leaders increasingly questioned the use of state power to police sexual behavior but welcomed tough policing so long as it was rationalized by the need to prevent violent crime.

The greatest strength of The Streets of San Francisco is Agee's close attention to the internal dynamics of the San Francisco Police Department. "With their respective references to the 'thin blue line' and the 'pigs of the state,'" Agee writes, "the New Right and New Left both assumed that the police served as a reliable arm of the state." Both groups, Agee argues, failed to realize that the police were not a monolith and that individual police officers had incentives and agendas of their own. The rank and file often bristled at the leadership, and the leadership in turn did not always know what the rank and file were actually doing. Police "sometimes approached street-level decisions with an interest in serving the goals of lawmakers," Agee writes, "but they also considered their own sense of right and wrong, their interest in winning—or compelling—respect from the community, and their desire to achieve their goals in the easiest, least time- and energy-consuming manner." The history that Agee recounts offers important lessons for the current movement to rein in America's hyper-aggressive, overmilitarized police departments. In designing solutions, reformers must grapple not only with formal laws and policies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, with the welter of personal motives and workplace grievances that drive individual officers' day-to-day decisions.

Over the time period that Agee describes, black activists did make some inroads with the San Francisco Police Department. The department established a "police-community relations" unit that, while mostly toothless, did provide some opportunities for community input into police discretion. In the 1960s, the federal war on poverty pumped funds into youth programs and neighborhood organizations, some of whose leaders gained a degree of influence with City Hall—as was famously ridiculed by Tom Wolfe in his 1970 article "Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers." But the SFPD resisted all attempts to limit or even regulate officers' prerogative to use physical force against black San Franciscans. Tellingly, when one of the department's few black patrolmen publicly admitted to having witnessed incidents of police brutality, he was harassed out of the department.

By the 1970s, the SFPD brass had learned to speak the language of equal opportunity and community participation when it served their own ends, but black San Francisco remained both overpoliced and underprotected. For black activists in the city, Agee writes, "achieving the negative right to be left alone by the government was harder than winning the positive right to government assistance." I was sadly reminded, when I read that line, of Eric Garner's words before he was choked to death by a New York police officer: "Every time you see me, you want to mess with me...Please just leave me alone."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Although they were acquitted in court, the police department disciplined them internally by transferring them to Potrero Station, which had jurisdiction over the poor and predominantly black neighborhood of Hunters Point.

    Well, they couldn't just fire them for breaking the law. I mean, they were entitled to those badges. Hello?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Was anyone in the cosmopolitan liberal coalition seriously discussing decriminalization?

    Even if they were, we know that they would stop once they became the power.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    It's that same old story. Power corrupts. The problem is not the people in power, it is the system which creates that power, it is the very fact that such power exists.

    I have always said that when authority and accountability are out of whack, something is wrong. Where authority exceeds accountability, there is corruption. Where accountability exceeds authority, there are scapegoats. Statists mostly refuse to recognize that. The closest they get to admitting it is to say that the wrong Top.Men are in power.

    Maybe government could work if people themselves had the political authority and will to enforce legal accountability. But I frankly doubt it; power corrupts, never mind worrying about absolute power.

    The only solution is to eliminate all coercive mandatory government, to reduce all governance to voluntary associations. Anything less, any remnant of coercive mandatory government, will expand back to the full scale variety.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    This is why Jefferson believed that, in order to keep America free, we'd have to have a revolution every fourty to fifty years.

    These people gain power, begin to abuse it, become corrupt, and then are "removed" once a line has been crossed. It'd work, if only we had the balls to implement it.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Why the shock? Conservative Republicans (a vanishing breed in the '60's and '70's, though set to make a comeback) might believe that Blacks were potentially their equals and ask them to meet the same standards of behavior. Liberals never did. The modern Liberal is the spiritual and political descendent of Wilsonian Progressives and Fabian Socialists. He barely believes that anyone Blue Collar is human, and views minorities as a superior sort of pet. Oh, he has a nice patter of Equality And Social Justice, but his behavior and the policies he stumps for show how he really feels. Anyone not like him is either treated like livestock, or carefully trained to parrot the same Liberal bushwa and allowed to (metaphorically) soil the rug because they simply don't know better.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This is a ridiculous counter narrative that the Right parrots in order to help them ignore some uncomfortable facts: Blacks overwhelmingly reject the Right and the Right does best in the same areas where Jim Crow flourished. In order to avoid thinking through any uncomfortable implications of these facts the Right concocts this revisionist convolution where the left of today are the 'real' racists because of course any understanding that blacks have or do face obstacles and calls to help them means you 'really' think blacks are inferior.

    Blacks aren't buying that nonsense. Whatever the (very real) failings on race historical progressives like Woodrow Wilson had blacks saw that when the chips were down during the Civil Rights movement that it was people on the Left that joined them at the March on Washington, in Selma, etc, while conservatives at the time were talking about the need to take things slowly and state's rights.

    In the end it's narratives like yours that are the most patronizing, assuming the vast majority if blacks are living under a massive false consciousness that you see through.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Load of twerp. Dems were worse for blacks until LBJ needed to do something politically to distract from the Vietnam War, and along came the War on Poverty, civil rights, and Medicare. That pushed the racists into the other party, which pushed the previous occupants the other way.

    Politics is nothing but practical power grabs, principles and principals be damned. To read anything remotely consistent into it is a sign of desperation.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Blacks started turning to the Left and Dems before LBJ, but nice try.

  • Banjos||

    Don't you worry your sweet little head Bo Bo, we won't let dem evil right wingers hurt your pet negroes. We'll make sure that they are fed, clothed, and kept safe in their cages. There, there, there, there.

    *cuddles Bo and pats him on the head*

  • ||

    Were you around when he was using the MNG handle, before that one got banned? The racism and antisemitism were just classic.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Were you around when he was using the MNG handle,"

    It's amusing the blinkered insularity among so many regulars here. Someone who agrees with the writers here more than they do embarrasses them and thus must, just must be a sock of some past poster (I've been called Tulpa, MNG, Joey (?), Mary, and more at various times). It can't just be that a libertarian coming here might find the numbers if right wingers like Old Man here to be anomalous!

  • ||

    That's cute. But like your previous handle, you can't seem to disguise your deep-seated racism, and that's the "tell." The fake Asperger's and fake claims to academic credentials don't work.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "dem evil right wingers hurt your pet negroes."

    Wow.

  • wadair||

    Bullshit. You're the racist with your assumption that black people vote as a block and think as a block. You obviously know very few--if any--middle class black folk.

    There are mainly two paths one can take when economically/socially wronged: work smarter and harder; or soothe one's ego by getting revenge on the offending party through whining to an authority. The former solves a problem, while the latter creates more problems. Progressives choose the latter because it keeps the downtrodden enamoured of them and indebted to them.

    This country has succeeded largely due to its can-do spirit. But that spirit has been shutout by progressives with their victim worship and their restrictive, regulatory policies. So own it.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I live, work and go to school around blacks of all classes. Regularly, daily. They overwhelmingly reject the right. If you need proof of this just look at poll after poll and election after election.

    The interesting thing is to, rather than lecturing them on their false consciousness or assuming that trend is inevitable, instead actually honestly engaging and listening to them as to why. They look at history and see that when the chips were down the federal government and the left stood by them while states and the right had a more mixed record. They're not wrong. The key for us as libertarians is to get that and explain that our view might offer some surprising advantages to many blacks if we can stop alienating them with a blindness to their history, situation and, given some of the rhetoric we see around here, their sense of dignity.

  • ||

    I'll bet some of them are even your best friends!

  • The Last American Hero||

    Black people vote as a block. It's not racism, it's statistics. More than 75 percent (of voting blacks) identify as democrats, and another 10 percent identify as independents but vote democrat. There aren't any black majority house districts in the country that elected a republican to office. There is a small contingent of black military/ex-military folks that vote independent or republican.

    You have a fair point about treating people as individuals, but the stats don't lie. As long as the black vote is guaranteed Team Blue, neither team will take their concerns seriously.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    the Right does best in the same areas where Jim Crow flourished.

    What is this twaddle supposed to mean?

    That the people in a geographic area hold the same beliefs over centuries?

    Are the people in MA still violently anti-Irish?

    Beyond that, it also ignores the reality that 'the right' became dominant in 'those areas' a couple of generations after Jim Crow was ended, while it was democrats that imposed Jim Crow and were politically dominant all during it.

    For instance, the Huckerster was governor of AR in the 90s and had veto proof democrat majorities in both houses of the AR legislature and lets not forget that it was the first black president and all around prog hero that preceded him as AR governor.

    So according to the prog meme parroted by Botard, AR is a sold red state because of the legacy of Jim Crow, even as the democrats were dominant during that era and for many decades after it was eliminated.

  • MSimon||

    “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.” Nixons chief political strategist Kevin Phillips

    "[Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks" Haldeman, his Chief of Staff wrote, "The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to."

  • kbolino||

    Johnson set up the pitch, and the Republicans couldn't help but take a swing, especially after the most ideologically pure candidate in the 40 years before or since was defeated in a landslide. It is, as much as anything, a strong countenance against blindly voting for Republicans. However, that doesn't mean that every time a Republican gets elected in the South it's because Richard Nixon planned it 40+ years ago.

  • kbolino||

    However, that doesn't mean that every time a Republican gets elected in the South it's because Richard Nixon planned it 40+ years ago.

    This reads more narrowly than what I meant, which is that just because Nixon intended to take the seats once held by "Negrophobic" Democrats, doesn't mean that every seat now held by a Republican in the South was so planned. In many cases, racist Democrats lost to non-racist (or at least, less racist) Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s before they too lost to Republicans in the 1990s and 2000s.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    You're too generous. Statists treat everyone as beneath redemption, the secular equivalence of original sin, that everyone is incapable of running their own lives and must be controlled by the collective. The idealist elite see themselves as qualified to tell everyone else what to do because they have the self-discipline that the masses lack.

    Then there are the opportunists, who don't give a rat's ass about anybody else, but they do understand that if there is a power structure, they want to be in charge simply because they like the power.

    The idealists provide the intellectual framework which the opportunists gladly pay lip service to. The idealists are far too naive to see they are the patsies, and the opportunists are far too practical to let the mask slip.

  • Win Bear||

    Statists treat everyone as beneath redemption, the secular equivalence of original sin, that everyone is incapable of running their own lives and must be controlled by the collective.

    Yes, but statists exists in large numbers both among progressives and among conservatives. Church hierarchies are set up so that an elite group of experts determines how you should live your lives, and when they get their grubby fingers into government (as they have in much of Europe throughout most of its history), they impose those views on the people. And like their progressive counterparts, these religious "leaders" are selfish opportunists and fabricate doctrine to serve their personal needs.

    And it continues today. Note that in Germany, churches are government financed, run most of the medical system, and write major legislation. And the only reason we found out about this abuse was because it was so egregious and was in the press for years so that it really was becoming a major embarrassment.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....his-house/

  • Beautiful Bean Footage||

    You know who else ran Germany?

  • ||

    +1 False Idol

  • Win Bear||

    Why the shock? Conservative Republicans (a vanishing breed in the '60's and '70's, though set to make a comeback) might believe that Blacks were potentially their equals and ask them to meet the same standards of behavior.

    Yet, conservative Republicans did nothing, because they thought it was easier to get votes by other means and they adopted the Southern Strategy. So, instead of gaining the black vote and spreading the word that what minorities need is liberty, not the welfare state and dependency, they drove those minorities right into the arms of Democrats.

    In the end, while Conservatives talk a lot about what's morally right and about absolute truths, they time and again end up doing what's politically expedient in the short term even if they know (or should know) it's morally wrong. Conservatives suffer from the same delusion as Liberals, progressives, and communists, namely that they are the bearers of ultimate truth, that it is their job to impose their beliefs on everybody, and any means are justified towards accomplishing that end.

    That's why political Conservatives have no place in the Libertarian or Republican parties. You can be privately socially conservative (I am), but once moral views translate into a political agenda, they become worthless.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "Yet, conservative Republicans did nothing"

    I believe that you are mistaking "Conservative Republicans" for Republicans and vice versa. "Conservative Republicans have had an effect on the party as a whole, but hardly replaced the party establishment, which runs to "Get ours before the trough empties" hacks.

    In point of fact I am being slightly unfair to Progressivism and Liberalism, both of which got subverted by the perpetual ferment of self-selected elitists that seems to exist in any culture. Thew Moral Superiority Junkies. The Al Gores and Ralph Naders.

    The Guillotine bait.

  • Win Bear||

    I believe that you are mistaking "Conservative Republicans" for Republicans and vice versa.

    Nixon certainly appealed to social conservatives in his campaign, so I don't think I'm "mistaking" anything. And, regardless of who instigated it, the fact is that social conservatives didn't seem to oppose it as long as it kept bringing in the votes.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Nixon was a big government RINO. He believed in Price Controls f'Christ's sake. The Left loathed him because, which still a RINO, he was also anti-Communist, which they took personally and B) because they never forgave him for defeating Helen Douglas, as nasty a hardcore Leftist/Stalinist as you might care to avoid. They had no arguments with most of his policies otherwise, because they weren't Conservatve policies.

  • MSimon||

    "Look, we understood we couldn't make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue...that we couldn't resist it." - John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  • kbolino||

    I think you are conflating two different groups. Who Schofield is calling "Conservative Republicans" had no seats at the table after leading the party to a crushing defeat in 1964. Nixon and his ilk represented a very different wing of the party.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I think he's being deliberately dense. Nobody with any grasp of history considers Nixon to have been Conservative.

  • np||

    Agee perceptively diagrams the elisions at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's obscenity trial for publishing Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," in which a parade of scholarly expert witnesses misrepresented Ginsberg's poem as an inscrutable literary puzzle denuded of any sexual charge. By the late 1960s, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) left bookstores and gentlemen's clubs alone, but it continued to arrest peddlers of what Agee calls "low-culture smut" and to harass politically subversive newspapers.


    Basically, the low-brow artists didn't have academics to come in and testify, "No, no, it's art--avant garde literature, not smut! You're supposed to think, not fap!"

  • Win Bear||

    So police brutality in Baltimore is the fault of liberals supporting gay rights in San Francisco?

    Actually, for starters, I'd like to see evidence that police brutality has even been getting worse overall in San Francisco, or that any increase in racial bias isn't actually caused by increased racial differences in who's committing crimes.

    Come on, folks, this site is called "Reason", not "The Slate of Self Righteous Indignation". How about some facts and analysis instead of this hand waving and innuendo?

  • BuSab Agent||

    Is it time to start drinking already?! I'm not sure my liver is ready to start so early after last night.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I'm pretty sure the same pattern of Radical Chic, Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers, institutionalization of poverty, creation of a black quisling class of low level functionaries, and brutal suppression under the guise of The War On Drugs that has characterized race relations in politics all over has taken place in San Fran.

    Do you have any evidence that it hasn't?

  • kbolino||

    So police brutality in Baltimore is the fault of liberals supporting gay rights in San Francisco?

    We have a two-party system. Among its many flaws is that, although there may be single-issue voters, there are not single-issue candidates. When you elect somebody, they are going to cast a lot of votes, most of which are going to have nothing to do with your pet issue.

    In many ways, the modern Democratic Party built the modern cities. For one thing, they've held electoral dominance in most of them for 50+ years. It's kind of hard to lay the blame at anyone else's feet. The problem isn't so much the liberals in SF supporting gay rights, it's the liberals in SF and everywhere else looking the other way when the government that nominally acts in their name abuses people.

    There are many conservatives with very negative attitudes about blacks and very positive attitudes about the police. But they don't live in the cities, so while their views are quite odious, they don't have any bearing on the situation in the cities.

  • Win Bear||

    In many ways, the modern Democratic Party built the modern cities. For one thing, they've held electoral dominance in most of them for 50+ years. It's kind of hard to lay the blame at anyone else's feet. The problem isn't so much the liberals in SF supporting gay rights, it's the liberals in SF and everywhere else looking the other way when the government that nominally acts in their name abuses people.

    Oh, there are plenty of things wrong with Democratic politics. But if you want to convince people of that, you need to connect the dots better than this massively confused article.

  • kbolino||

    While I try to be optimistic, I don't think I can make a more convincing case than the plain evidence of reality. Good portions of most inner cities are utter shitholes that have not seen any improvement in decades. Yet the people living in them solidly re-elect the same politicians, and moreover the same party, year after year. While you might be right about the content of this article, not even the best worded argument is going to convince someone so firm in their beliefs.

  • np||

    Pretty cool demonstration of coil/gauss gun / EM principles:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md3QIUX_LoM

  • MSimon||

    Sara Mayeux,

    For a very long time the drugs flooding the country mirrored the main operation grounds of our intel agencies.

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