San Francisco

SF's Homeless Encampment Proposal Questioned After All-Out Brawl in the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood

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Dramatic and intense video circulating on social media showing an all-out brawl in the heart of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, raised questions about the city's proposal for dealing with the unhoused.

Several businesses and residents say the district once known for peace and love is starting to look more like a "fight club,” and they want help to stop it. 

The viral video was shot Saturday at the intersection of Clayton Street and Haight Street. A place where the man who shot it says he frequently sees fights from his window overlooking the intersection.

This was one of the larger ones, but he says the rate of violence has increased since the pandemic and since a large homeless population moved into the area.

“That’s the face of the city, when people come to visit, that’s what they see,” said Chris Leduc of San Francisco. 

He and Nancy Riley say they're among those who have seen a spike in violence and crime in the area.

“There’s not enough of a police presence in all of the neighborhoods here,” Leduc said.

This couple, both multi-generational San Franciscans, say they also believe police presence has been shrinking for years.

“You don’t even see a squad car come by anymore, and if there’s no accountability, then they’re going to do whatever they want,” Riley said.

And they say recent moves by the city encouraging large tent cities in the area have led to even more crime.

“It’s one step above a shanty town, like they had during the depression,” Riley said.

A group calling itself Safe Healthy Haight tells NBC Bay Area that the city's decision to allow tent villages amounts to using the Haight as a "containment zone.”

They went on to say the encampment policy, "threatens public health, the survival of our surrounding businesses” and they urged Supervisor Dean Preston to take action. 

While getting video of the largest encampment at Stanyan and Haight, two people who said they represent the homeless residents there, said they didn't want to talk about the video or identify anyone in it.

San Francisco police said it is investigating the brawl and is asking for the public's help. But Sup. Preston, who has been criticized for providing tents and other things to the homeless village, did not respond to requests for comment.

Residents say they hope someone responds soon to the growing danger in Haight-Ashbury.

“And until we get more cops out here, it will probably get worse,” said Leduc.

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