UPDATE: 100 People Protest Park Curfew – Issue Heads to City Hall Today

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Protestors at the Harvey Milk Dem. Club’s rally against Scott Wiener’s proposed park curfew law at Dolores Park. Photo: Trey Allen

Last night over the course of the evening about 100 people attended a protest organized by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club (HMDC) in Dolores Park voicing their opposition to Castro’s Dist. 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposed legislation that would enact a curfew in all City Parks from midnight to five a.m.

Protestors believe the measure unfairly targets the homeless and is another legal weapon like the City’s controversial No Sit/No Lie law being put on the books to punish people for being poor. They want to see more solution based approaches to the City’s homeless issue and less legislative and punitive ones.

The legislation’s author, Sup. Scott Wiener, says nothing could be further from the truth. He states emphatically that he wrote the law to give the police another tool to use to combat ongoing park vandalism and illegal dumping that is costing San Francisco’s Park and Rec Department close to a million dollars annually to repair. He has also pointed out in several interviews that San Francisco is the only major US city that doesn’t have uniform public park hours.

It was a very cold Monday night as protestors set up sleeping bags joining a handful of homeless campers who sought refuge in the Park. San Francisco Police presence was minimal, but, they did continue to drop by the protest keeping an eye on the gathering. Thought the protest was an act of civil disobedience no arrests were made. The protestors were lively and committed despite the winds and cold snap.

Trey Allen, HMDC member, protesting at Dolores Park against proposed new curfew law. Photo: Trey Allen

Trey Allen, HMDC member, protesting at Dolores Park against proposed new curfew law. Photo: Trey Allen

Tom Temprano, President of HMDC and actions architect, stayed the entire night in the park was pleased with the turn out and media coverage. He noted that the only people he saw last night in park were folks looking for somewhere to sleep not cause trouble.

SFPD Police Chief, Greg Suhr, supports the Supervisor’s attempt to, as he told a KTVU reporter, “add another tool to the tool box” in the ongoing struggle to curb vandals and illegal dumping hitting City parks. He says the law will not be used by SFPD to conduct park sweeps for the homeless.

Homeless advocates aren’t buying the explanations from either the Supervisor or the Chief. Opponents point out that there are already laws on the books regarding vandalism and sleeping in the parks that aren’t being enforced now due to SFPD’s limited resources and staffing issues. They wonder how exactly this new law will be implemented when SFPD’s force hands are already so full.

Today the debate moves to City Hall where the Board of Supervisors will weigh in on the subject. Harvey Milk Democratic Club and other homeless advocates plan on rallying on the Polk side steps of City Hall at 1 PM prior to the Boards scheduled 2PM meeting.

Some of the protest signs created last night by torchlight for the HMDC action in Dolores Park

Some of the protest signs created last night by torchlight for the HMDC action in Dolores Park. Photo: Trey Allen

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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5 Responses

  1. rblack says:

    100 turned up to protest but only 6 actually spent the night in the park. So much for homeless solidarity.

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  2. Mitch Mansfield says:

    I bet that a after few nights in the park, homeless solidarity would REALLY gone. They then might realize that sleeping in the park is not a lifestyle that should be protected.

    And the “stop making laws until existing laws are enforced” argument does not have much weight to it. That is the same as saying “I’m taking all the toys away if you don’t play nicely.”

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  3. Jeremy says:

    Regardless of your opinion on this legislation, can we all agree to not use the acronym HMDC? It’s the “Milk Club.” We already have enough acronyms in this City, I don’t want to have to remember another one!

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  4. Steven says:

    I want to air my support for Sup. Wiener’s position on the park curfew issue. As a Duboce Triangle resident, adjacent to Duboce Park and near Dolores Park, I’m concerned about maintaining and fostering our city’s distinctive green spaces as a key component in creating a strong sense of place, and for their developed intent of relaxation and recreation for all. Illicit use of our parks should be banned and aggressively enforced. For those naysayers voicing their opposition to your stance, I would like to challenge them to true community and stakeholder collaboration that provides a sustainable–and legal–solution for all parties involved.

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