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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Police State and Prisons
SF Cop with Baton to People Watching Arrest: "Back Up Now; Everybody back up."
After SF Pride, someone was being apprehended by San Fransisco police outside Westfield mall. The manner in which the arrest occurred drew attention, and as such a crowd gathered to witness. Rather than explain the situation to the people watching, the police intimidated the crowd back, with an officer pulling out his baton to threaten people into clearing the sidewalk. Rather than communicate with the public in a civil manner, the police showed aggression to people who were merely witnessing an arrest.
Unfortunately no details about the arrest to share, because the police chose aggression instead of communication. [This arrest happened after the shooting in Civic Center and before the fight at Embarcadero BART; without further information, it cannot be assumed that this arrest was related to either situation.]
As the video shows, nobody watching the arrest attempts to interfere with the police. The crowd does give the police their space. The police apprehend their suspect (not sure for what), and separate this person from the crowd. There was no reason to threaten the crowd back, and in particular there was no reason for batons to be used as intimidation.
The mood changes very quickly; people are watching the police, then the police move forward on the crowd, with one cop leading the intimidation by yelling for everyone to back up while taking out a baton (seen at time marker 14 seconds). A few other police also take out their batons, while the majority do not.
It appears that because the police focus on the crowd, the suspect slips away momentarily. Then after re-apprehending the individual again on the street, the police go back to needlessly bothering passers-by, attempting to assert that the sidewalk is closed. But because people need the sidewalk, the police quickly have to submit the sidewalk back to the masses.
One would presume if there was a safety reason for the crowd to get back, the police would just explain the safety reason. Or if the area needed to be blocked off as a crime scene, then that could just be explained. But instead the police forced people back without any explanation.
On its face, without any further information, it is easy to get the impression that the police simply didn't want to be watched by so many people. But by not wanting to be a spectacle, they became one.