The ghosts of violent Halloween pasts have prompted The City to cancel all large-scale events in San Francisco, including any in the Castro district or at AT&T Park.
After years of violence-scarred Halloween events in the Castro — nine people were wounded by gunfire in 2006 alone — The City has axed events in the neighborhood.
This year, despite Halloween falling on a Saturday, there will be no sanctioned event in the Castro and a city-sponsored gathering that was held last year near AT&T Park also has been canceled.
“We’re very cognizant that [Halloween is on a] Saturday,” said David Perry, who’s promoting San Francisco’s Home for Halloween campaign for the third year. The campaign urges people to find activities in their own neighborhoods.
Last year, Halloween was on a Friday, but rain and the impending election may have contributed to smaller crowds, Perry said.
The city-sponsored party last year in a parking lot near AT&T Park resulted in disappointing crowds and won’t be held this year, said District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who represents the Castro.
“Police also weren’t thrilled about it because they felt it was a distraction,” he said.
Even transit systems, which in years past have run extra service to accommodate Halloween crowds, have scaled back.
BART said it will stop service at midnight, like it did last year. Muni will not provide extra trains, Dufty said.
The streets in the Castro, which had been closed down for a block-partylike event, will remain open to traffic and there will be no stages for entertainment and no organized performances.
“I think the bars in the Castro will be busy, but it’s not a street party and there’s going to be the same emphasis on safety,” Dufty said. The representatives from the Mayor’s Office, city departments, law enforcement agencies, and neighborhood and community groups have been meeting regularly during the past several weeks.
“There are going to be larger crowds in other parts of The City. The Castro will have a strong police presence early in the evening, then officers will be redeployed to wherever there are larger-than-usual crowds,” Dufty said.
Mission Police Station Capt. Stephen Tacchini said that aside from larger crowds, officers will handle Halloween just as they handle any Saturday night.
“Citywide, the San Francisco Police Department has canceled the day off for most patrol personnel. They’ll be organized into a large pool of resources wherever conflicts develop, whether that’s the Castro, Mission, Broadway or South of Market,” he said. “We’ll do our best to keep the sidewalks flowing and streets open for traffic.”
For years, the neighborhood drew thousands of revelers from San Francisco and out of town. But after violence marred festivities in 2006, The City began to phase out the organized celebration.
2002: A woman is slashed in the face with a razor and another is stabbed in the stomach and critically injured. Two other stabbings result in minor injuries. A chain saw is confiscated from another person.
2003: Despite a police crackdown on public drinking, one person is shot in the leg near Market and 17th streets.
2004: A man is severely beaten by two others.
2005: One person is stabbed.
2006: Shots are fired into a crowd. Nine people are wounded and one woman suffers a head injury when she’s trampled by the crowd.
Source: Police Department