S.F. to debate future of Halloween party in Castro

Task force to explore options for next year’s street event

After violence marred The City’s annual Halloween street party in the Castro district, city officials have announced plans for a task force to decide how the event should be handled next year.

The task force, to be headed by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, will include representatives from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office, as well as police, fire, sheriff, public works and other city agencies. Neighborhood businesses and residents will also be represented on the task force. More than 100,000 people showed up to the event Tuesday.

In planning this year’s celebration, city officials tried to tone down the historically raucous street party by ending it early and reducing the number of event stages from three to one.

The event went relatively smoothly until about 10:40 p.m., when two groups squared off in the 2200 block of Market Street, exchanging insults. A member of one group hit a member of the other group with a bottle, police said, at which point a member of the “victim” group pulled out a gun and opened fire, sending bullets into the dense crowd.

Police have not determined whether the incident was gang-related, nor have they turned the case over to the department’s Gang Task Force, spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said Thursday.

Some of the individuals involved in the shooting were gang members, but the shooting itself is not necessarily thought to have been motivated by gang rivalries, according to community members and police officials close to the investigation.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that “the event is getting too big for the Castro,” and needs to be “scaled-down.” He also said there was a possibility the event may be canceled.

Dufty said Thursday that his office had received many calls for the event to be canceled, and that that was one option on the table. But, “you can’t turn a battleship on a dime,” he said. Regardless of whether The City moved or canceled the event, people would show up at the Castro anyway, he said.

The task force is due to meet quarterly. Its first meeting has not yet been scheduled, but Dufty’s office indicated it would most likely be held sometime this month.

amartin@examiner.com Staff Writer Bonnie Eslinger contributed to this report.

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