Lack of Halloween checkpoints spooks Castro residents

Many residents say they’re unsure what to expect in the Castro tonight, where hundreds of police plan to crack down on annual Halloween celebrations, but some say they fear weapon-fueled mayhem because police checkpoints will not be set up.

A 600-plus team of police and sheriff’s deputies plan a zero-tolerance policy on crimes such as public drinking and public drunkenness tonight in the neighborhood, where The City is trying to shut down an annual Halloween street party because of violence in previous years.

Agents from the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control are expected to take part in the multiagency law enforcement team.

That helped convince Lime Restaurant to agree to close at 10 p.m., “just to be on the safe side,” according to manager Palloma Nazario, who said patrons could easily spark trouble just by taking drinks outside.

“We’re taking a huge hit,” Nazario said, although she expects any party tonight will be smaller than in previous years, when estimates put the crowd above 100,000 people.

“I don’t think it’s going to be huge,” Nazario said. “Saturday for us was incredibly slow compared with years prior.”

Resident Allen White thinks interest in the party has fallen this year because of efforts to stamp it out. “People have reached a level of disinterest or disgust,” he said. “They’ve just given up caring.”

But not all of White’s neighbors are so sure. Michael Staley hopes The City will succeed in shutting down the annual street party. “However,” he said, “I really, truly believe that it will not.”

“Since it’s a non-event, the police cannot screen for weapons,” Staley said. “So if somebody decides to cause trouble, they can.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said “there’s no event happening” in the Castro this year, “so there’s no checkpoint.”

But that confidence doesn’t reassure Eddy Lopez, who lives in the Castro.

“Those who decide to go tomorrow night — unless they’ve lived under a stone — are going to be aware that they’re not supposed to be there,” Lopez said. “There’s going to be tension.”

jupton@examiner.com

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