The NFL Paranoia Experience
By John Elberling : 48hills – excerpt
As the city goes overboard to protect the NFL brand, fear is winning, right here on Howard St.
The “NFL Experience By Huyndai” has put our Yerba Buena Neighborhood in a virtual SFPD military-style lockdown since last weekend. It will continue to Game Day this coming Sunday.
This is the football fan show that the NFL sets up for each year’s Superbowl at a host city’s convention center. It’s $35 for adults and $25 for kids. We are used to comparable-scale events at Moscone Center, like the annual Auto Show over the Thanksgiving weekend, and the Oracle World and Dream Force mega-conventions that each close Howard Street for a week every Fall. And we go through several low-key security lockdowns of Howard Street every year when Obama comes to town for a fundraiser and stays at the Intercontinental Hotel.
But this NFL Experience is nothing like those events (which, except for the president, reimburse the full costs of all the extra city police and traffic control officers they need, which the NFL is not doing). Instead it is totally over-the-top:
- Three SFPD officers with automatic weapons slung across their shoulders are posted at the Third and Fourth Streets Howard Street intersections all day.
- At least two-dozen more SFPD patrolmen are posted around the area all day.
- SFPD motorcycles and police cars are parked as barriers at the Third and Fourth Street Howard Street entrances to the Expo.
- SFPD observation posts are located on the roofs of adjacent buildings.
- The SFPD Bomb Squad truck was parked on Folsom Street behind Moscone Center. So was the Communication Van. Bomb-sniffing dogs checked trucks going down the Moscone truck ramp.
- A PG&E Incident Command Post trailer is parked on an alley off Folsom Street along with several PG&E emergency service trucks.
- Dozens of private security people in yellow jackets make sure nobody can get into any off-limits zone without “credentials”.
- FBI agents are reportedly in the area at least some of the time.
- And unlike every other big Moscone Center event, the Howard Street sidewalks are totally closed to the public, forcing the hundreds of seniors living in four senior residences on the adjacent block between Fourth and Fifth Streets to detour around Mission Street to get to the Muni stops on Third Street going to Chinatown. And this during the weekend before Chinese New Year’s on Monday – the busiest shopping weekend of the year (like the days before Christmas for most of us)!
It certainly feels like Occupied San Francisco around here, but not the progressive kind.
This isn’t a one-off, folks. This is the future of America. Fear-driven militarization of civilian law enforcement everywhere (including always-shoot-to-kill training, as if every inner-city neighborhood is Baghdad), all in the name of “security” to protect us from “whatever might happen.” But actually to protect the elite and suppress the unwanted – whoever they may be.
FDR knew “We have nothing to fear – but fear itself!” But in America today, 15 years after our nation’s craven response to 9/11, fear is winning. Even right now in San Francisco, on Howard Street… (more)