With the Super Bowl fast approaching, San Francisco police are bracing for rowdy public celebrations.
But authorities are already facing criticism for making a show of force in the Mission after the 49ers’ victory Sunday in the NFC Championship game.
Anticipating bonfires and vandalism, officers in riot gear closed down the area near 24th and Mission streets. Social media posts showed officers standing in the streets while revelers in 49ers attire celebrated on the sidewalk.
And while no destruction appears to have materialized, the heavy police presence raised concerns for Mission advocates who felt unfairly targeted for being Latino.
“It was… clearly racial profiling of Latinos in our community,” Roberto Hernandez, an activist known as the “Mayor of the Mission,” said in a letter to Mayor London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott on Thursday. “White privilege people were walking along Mission Street as if they were ghosts and never told anything by the police.”
Homie got detained because the cop was talking to him and touched him and homie said he didn’t want the cop to touch him. pic.twitter.com/V9mUiClRpG
— Perla (@perlaxlove) January 20, 2020
Hernandez alleged that police fired bean bags and made arrests.
Videos on social media showed heated confrontations between police and 49ers fans, including at least one person who appeared to be detained.
Hernandez said he did not know of police clamping down on other neighborhoods outside of the Mission.
Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a police spokesperson, said police deployed resources not just to Mission but to “multiple police districts where problems have materialized following previous championship games.”
“In prior instances, celebrations turned destructive,” Andraychak said, likely referring to rowdy Giants fans celebrating past World Series wins. “Bonfires were lit, public and private property was vandalized, fights broke out, individuals were assaulted and participants attacked police officers with projectiles thrown from within crowds.”
Andraychak said the crowd threw bottles at SFPD again on Sunday. He did not confirm any arrests.
We wanted to celebrate the 49ers win as a community in the Mission District but the pigs created the danger and tension and anxiety which escalated everything and led to altercations #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/Xz2fAbKwTd
— juno (@J7no415) January 20, 2020
In his letter, Hernandez called for a meeting to prevent police from responding to Super Bowl Sunday in the Mission in the same fashion.
“Many of us have volunteered to help train officers throughout the years, but if the top command is giving out orders as Sunday night its a major set back once again,” Hernandez said. “Best practices on how to engage with community clearly were neglected.”
Andraychak said police have a duty to “facilitate lawful assembly while safeguarding the community and maintaining order.”
“The SFPD is working with city agencies and law enforcement partners to plan for a coordinated response to potential public celebrations on Super Bowl Sunday,” Andraychak said.
For her part, Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she was not at the scene on Sunday.
“But it concerns me that Roberto, who was there, feels this way,” Ronen said. “I will be following up with the chief to make sure that celebration is allowed but we still preserve the public safety.”