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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Metal Detectors, ID Scans at S.F. Nightclubs Up for Debate

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 12:44 PM

click to enlarge Can't we have fun without killing each other?
  • Can't we have fun without killing each other?
Can't we have fun without killing each other?

San Francisco is considering draconian safety measures at night clubs, including metal detectors and ID scans -- not even Oakland does that!

That said, Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the Entertainment Commission, tells SF Weekly that it's unlikely such measures would pass muster in San Francisco. And while that might be reassuring to some, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital civil liberties group, isn't backing down.

The group is formally protesting the plan, saying ID scans and surveillance cameras are unconstitutional and would have a "chilling effect" on San Francisco.

According to the group:

"Scanning the IDs of all attendees at an antiwar rally, a gay night club, or a fundraiser for a civil liberties organization would have a deeply chilling effect on speech. Participants might hesitate to attend such events if their attendance were noted, stored, and made available on request to government authorities. This would transform the politically and culturally tolerant environment for which San Francisco is famous into a police state."
Tonight, the Entertainment Commission will consider a slew of safety measures for nightclubs. Some of the more controversial ones include having patrons walk through metal detectors when entering nightclubs and then get their IDs scanned, which would tell police exactly when they entered. Once inside, patrons will be recorded on surveillance cameras; the footage will be kept for police records for two weeks. 

Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman with EFF, says these measures are offensive and completely illegal. "It's a waste of time that we are even talking about this," she says. "Because it's unconstitutional."

The stringent rules were cobbled together last year after a streak of nightclub violence that put city lawmakers in the uncomfortable position of trying to make San Francisco's venues safe without killing everyone's buzz.

Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom called a come-to-Jesus meeting with club owners to talk about these proposed rules and consider new ways to help put a stop to the violence.

"The assumption that you need these things to operate isn't something that everyone agrees to," Kane tells SF Weekly.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert has been Online News Editor for SF Weekly since 2010. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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