Protestors Rally Outside Mayor Ed Lee’s Home, Call for his Resignation

More than a dozen protesters marched to the house of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Thursday, calling for his resignation to the wake of recent police shootings, which the protestors said are related to rising rents and displacement in the city. At noon, the protesters, some with the San Francisco-based group Poor Magazine, gathered in front of the Glen Park BART station before marching to the mayor’s house. 

“Ed Lee is selling this community and killing the people in San Francisco. His policies are involved in the displacement and murder of our people,” activist Lisa Gray-Garcia, one of the event’s organizers, said as she addressed the crowd. “We talk about displacement and police murder, those are connected… and that’s the point of today,” Gray-Garcia said.

The protesters also called for the resignation of San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr, citing the fatal shootings of San Francisco residents Mario Woods, 26, on Dec. 2 in the Bayview District and Alex Nieto, 28, in March 2014 in Bernal Heights. 

From the BART station, the protesters then marched about four blocks to the mayor’s home in the Sunnyside neighborhood, where protesters shouted “Vote 1 2 3, replace Ed Lee.” Several police officers followed the protesters to the location, where a parked patrol car blocked access to the home’s driveway. 

“Justice for Mario Woods! Justice for Alex Nieto!” protesters shouted as they gathered on the sidewalk across from the mayor’s home. It’s not only police violence, we’re seeing economic violence that prompts much of the police violence — economic violence against our working people, our disabled folk, our elders who are struggling in a big way to stay here,” activist Tony Robles said. 

“We have a chief who is out of control. He has to go … We have a mayor that is completely out of touch and he has to go,” Robles said. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the protest.

Warriors Arena Opponents File Second Suit Against City Alleging “Rushed” Environmental Review of Project

Opponents of a proposed Golden State Warriors arena in the Mission Bay neighborhood expanded their legal campaign against the project Thursday, filing a lawsuit alleging San Francisco officials violated state environmental review laws when they approved it. 

The lawsuit was filed in Sacramento County Superior Court by the Mission Bay Alliance, a group opposing the 18,000-seat arena’s location at 16th and Third Streets, directly across the street from the University of California at San Francisco’s campus. 

The alliance, which describes itself as a group of UCSF stakeholders, donors, faculty and physicians, has argued that the project will create major traffic delays around the hospital. The group argues that the city failed to properly consider alternative locations for the arena and environmental impacts on traffic, air quality and noise.

In particular, the group alleges that game-day traffic could hinder ambulances and block access to life-saving care. The alliance accuses city officials of rushing the project, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in December, and relying on environmental documents dating back to the 1998 Mission Bay Redevelopment Plan, instead of conducting a thorough review.

The lawsuit follows another filed last month in Alameda County Superior Court alleging that UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood failed to negotiate in the university’s best interests and took a bad deal under pressure from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Warriors officials. That lawsuit alleges that Hawgood did not have proper authority to negotiate an agreement with the Warriors. 

Hawgood and officials with the Warriors announced a memorandum of understanding on the project on Oct. 6, just days before Warriors officials finalized the purchase of the land for the arena from Salesforce. In the memorandum, Warriors officials agreed to create a special transportation improvement fund for the neighborhood, and agreed to place some limits on special events and remain in communication with hospital officials regarding traffic.

Man Convicted of Misdemeanor Vandalism, Hate Crime Charges for Anti-Chinese Graffiti

A man arrested in connection with anti-Chinese graffiti in the Portola and Bayview neighborhoods of San Francisco was found guilty Thursday of misdemeanor vandalism and hate crime charges. 

John Schenone, 62, of San Francisco, was found guilty of 13 misdemeanors including seven counts of vandalism and six counts of a hate crime by way of defacing property, prosecutors said. Schenone was arrested Sept. 8, a day after spray-painted graffiti reading “No more Chinese” was found in bright orange letters at six locations in the Portola and Bayview neighborhoods.

Investigators identified Schenone as a suspect in the case after they obtained surveillance video showing both him and his vehicle, a 1980s model white pickup truck, at two of the places defaced. He was known to officers at the San Francisco police department’s Bayview Station, prosecutors said. “Racism has no place in San Francisco,” District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday following the verdict.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse, tolerant and inclusive city. Actions such as these strike at the heart of who we are and the values we hold dear.” Deputy Public Defender Bonnie Chan, who represented Schenone, Thursday said she was “extremely disappointed” with the verdict and planned to file a motion for a new trial.

“We all have a Constitutional right to express our opinions, however unpopular they may be with the public,” Chan said, noting that the judge had reduced the charges from felonies to misdemeanors because Schenone did not threaten, target or physically harm anyone. “Like it or not, racism alone is not a crime,” Chan said. “From the beginning, this case has been based on emotions rather than law.” Schenone is scheduled to return to court Feb. 5 for sentencing.

(News provided by Bay City News.)