After the “Frisco 5” hunger strikers left their post in front of the Mission police station on Friday to go to the hospital — where, the following day, their 17-day protest ended — barricades were quickly erected, blocking the entirety of the sidewalk around the station.
This as done to apparently to ward off future protesters, but it also forced a violation of traffic rules, as it forced pedestrians to walk in the street and bicycle lane to get up and down busy Valencia.
Guarded by several officers at either end, the barricades were up through Tuesday afternoon — four days after the the camp had been cleared and the sidewalks dutifully power-washed by Public Works crews — and officials have yet to explain exactly why.
[jump] After putting in requests for comment to the SFPD and the Department of Public Works, which oversees sidewalks in the city, Mission District Captain Daniel Perea called SF Weekly on Tuesday to announce that the sidewalk in front of his station was now open.
Interesting. Why was it closed in the first place?
“I can tell you this, the sidewalk is open and if you have any questions I have to refer you to Media Relations,” Perea said.
Ok. Well, when did it reopen?
“I have to refer you to Media Relations,” Perea said. “Like I said, the sidewalk is open.”
We are still waiting on a justification for the four-day-long closure from the media team, but it’s hard to blame them for failing to offer one.
Unless police were concerned about an actual assault on the station, which starving protesters are hardly a harbinger of, the blockade seems highly dubious — and not within city policy about street and pedestrian access.
The police also failed to erect a “temporary walkway” as required under the Department of Public Works' sidewalk closure guidelines and with no signs directing pedestrians to cross the street, SF Weekly observed many just walking in the street next to traffic.
DPW’s Barricade Standards specifically note an “Incorrect Barricading Method” as one with “No defined alternative path-of-travel (sending pedestrians into traffic).”
Walking fifty yards down Valencia Street is not a hardship … for most people. But it’s striking that the city decided to violate its policies on how to keep residents safe to avoid being bothered by protesters — who had been gone for several days.
DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon says by email: “The barricades went up due to security concerns. We did not require a permit but we do want to make sure that the path of travel is being maintained along the sidewalk.”