Chess-in defies SFPD crackdown

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By Christina Aanestad

More than 50 people crowded Market Street with tables, chairs, chess and other board games Sunday for a "Chess-in," a response to the San Francisco Police Department's closure of a decades-long San Francisco tradition of sidewalk chess.

"We had no say in the decision,” said Marvin Boykins, a 35 year veteran chess player.

Last month, police ended the open and public chess games at Fifth and Market Streets, citing crime as the reason. A nearby shopkeeper, who declined to provide their name, told the Guardian that drug dealers sometimes use the chess tables to conceal their business dealings. There's no doubt crime occurs around the neighborhood, which marks the intersection of the Tenderloin and SoMa. Just three doors down from the chess games, a woman stood in the doorway of a closed business holding a crack pipe. Nevertheless, chess players like Boykins say crime happens in all neighborhoods—and it's no reason for the police to stop a decades-old tradition.

“SFPD made a very grave mistake in their administrative capacity not acknowledging the true problem—that we have nothing to do with nor do we condone [crime],” he said.

Other shopkeepers, like Phil Gatdula, manager of sustainable soul food restaurant Farmer Brown on Market Street, said he enjoyed the chess players, who encompass people from all walks of life including business owners, youth, and elders.

Many attendees of the Chess-in voiced concerns about gentrification in the city, pointing to sidewalk chess as its latest casualty. Activists with the Coalition on Homelessness said blaming the removal on crime is merely a cover for an underlying agenda.

“To suggest that a long-time community of elder chess players engaging in a fun, public event is creating a public safety issue is a thinly veiled move to push poor people from public space,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, Executive Director of the Coalition On Homelessness.

Just days after the police kicked the chess players off Market Street, a new rent-a-bike station with gleaming identical bikes took their place. Bay Area Bike Share is a newly launched program that rents out bicycles, with nearly three dozen locations in San Francisco. Having opened in August, it's a partnership with San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Valley transportation authorities, offering “access to shared bicycles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for use in the cities of San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose,” according to the company's website.

Lisa Alatorre, another staff member with the Coalition on Homelessness, sees the chess crackdown as part of a larger plan to appeal to techies and tourists in the area. It's also no coincidence that a new shopping mall and condo development are going in right across the street from where chess players gathered for decades before the recent displacement, she said.

Josh Shadlen, 28, moved to San Francisco a few years ago as part of the second dot-com wave. Despite working within the tech industry that critics like Alatorre say is the cause of high rents in San Francisco, Shadlen spent his day sitting on the sidewalk, playing chess in the sun to support reclaiming public space. He said that while 90 percent of his colleagues don't care about impacts they are having on the local community, he does.

Josh Shadlen, a tech dude who's siding with the chess players.

“It seemed basically like an attack on the residents of this neighborhood and part of a plan to turn this neighborhood into fancy office buildings where maybe I might work at some point, but I don't want that to happen here or anywhere,” he said.

Shadlen said the police should do a better job at policing rather than throwing out chess players.

Organizers like Alatorre say it's unlikely chess will return to Fifth and Market Streets. For now, the players have moved to Yerba Buena Park. Alatorre and others are still hopeful that things could change—but they believe the political will doesn't exist among current members of the Board of Supervisors. Asked whether she thought people would continue to gather at Fifth and Market streets to play chess next Sunday, she said, “I hope so.”

Comments

threatening. I feel sure they will prevail.

And in case nobody at SFBG knew this, it was actually a form of gambling, i.e. illegal.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barier on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

That there is some hidden class conspiracy theory is just silly. What a wearing world view, nothing is as it seems and no one ever does anything for the stated reasons, the hidden hand is behind everything from banning Chess on Market St to chem trails making progressives sterile.

The Guardian thinks that the bike share thing is bad and leads gentrification? Thats an interesting turn of events.

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

one of those guys, you get asked for upfront money "which you get back if you win" which sounds like a shakedown to a lot of people.

Plus there are always a few skeevy looking guys who seem buddy with the player, reinforcing the idea that this is not some cute little academic sideshow.

The closest analogy is probably three card monte/find the lady scams you used to always see around Times Square in NYC before it became Disneyfied.

Seriously, if this is the worse thing happening in SF, we're doing pretty well.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barier on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barier on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

What the hell is this city coming to?

For once I agree with matlock the troll in that we both think it's asinine and meanspirited to kick out chess players. But as usual, matlock misses the point in the midst of his blind hatred for progressives. These "stupid" things don't happen at random. No, douchebag, it's not a "conspiracy" in the sense that a bunch of people smoking cigars sit in a boardroom in some downtown office building and scheme about ways to make poor people's lives more miserable. It's just that the politicians and the billionaires they serve all think alike and they all hate poor people. Some of the rich hate them passionately, and really do want to hurt them for the sake of hurting them. Others just see them as a nuisance, like so much rubbish to be swept away when it gets too annoying. Poor people don't buy the expensive stuff the multi-millionaires and billionaires are selling. These people want more millionaires, or at least more upper-middle class wage slaves, since there aren't enough millionaires to go around. And they don't want to see icky poor people in the city they own.

So when the bike rental company meets with the city planners to decide where to put their station, the planners say "Right here would be a great spot. Some high end condos are going up nearby, and it would be convenient for them to bike to their tech jobs." Because young urban hipsters feel all smug and good about themselves if they're not using cars, and they're too good to ride MUNI... not realizing that the fact that they have this option in the first place is already a privilege.

There's just one problem... when they go to put up the bike racks, well, turns out there are chess players there. If you want them out, you gotta call the private security services known as the SFPD. But the cops probably won't make that kind of decision without consulting their employers.

"No problem," sez the Mayor. "I'll call Greg and he'll have his boys take care of the problem for you. We'll have your bike station up there in no time."

So Ed Lee calls up the police chief...
"Hey Greg... we need some officers to clean up the chess players off market street. We've got condos and bike stations going up in the area, and those guys are in the way."

Suhr: "Will do Ed. But what do we tell the media? You know those hippie left-wingers are going to whine about this and say my officers are cracking down on poor people."

Lee: "Don't worry about the media. Just say some businesses complained about 'crime'. I'll talk to Phil over at the Chron to give this thing a good spin. A couple weeks and it'll all blow over."

Done.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 8:28 am

The closest bike station is at Powell St BART, a good block away from where those guys played chess.

Or maybe you thinking of Civic Center, by the Carls Jr.

Either one wasn't displacing any chess players.

Otherwise your post is fairly accurate.

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

on Market Street. And while it was an entertaining experience, it is definitely shady and skeevy, with various ner'er-do wells hanging out there, and money changing hands (illegal, as I understand it).

Chess is a fairly mobile pastime, and I'm sure the hustlers there can find a new spot. Mid-Market is going up-market, thanks to Lee and Kim approving the Twitter tax break, and what used to be tolerated there no longer is.

Onwards and upwards.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

You sound like some old gossipy woman on a party line (telephone) back in the 1960s making up stuff about something you know nothing about just to spread some hot rumors and gossip.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

You're the one sounding old, Guest.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

Showing your willful-ignorance again. You don't believe in looking anything up do you?

Party line (telephony) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

But I don't, and was just pointing out the irony of you accusing me of being old and then using a reference that only an old person would get.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

I'm amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that's equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head.
The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.
I am very happy I came across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

Posted by http://www.dizzybigtits.com on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:22 am

"What the hell is this city coming to?"

What's it coming to? Another Marin/Tiburon. That's what they're turning it into as fast as they can. Some say a suburb of Silicon Valley. They are sanitizing this city of anything from the past as quickly as they can to satisfy the wealthy and their wealthy corporatist 1% owners. The one problem: There are only so many people to buy all this shit ("luxury designer homes/condos").

And that smiling, ill-adjusted, empty black suit conservative politician who despises the homeless dreamed up that idea of closing the parks between midnight and 5am. He claims to have another reason for it of course but thinking people see him for what he's doing. He's very transparent. It's about the homeless.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

drab, poor, miserable-looking proles in the city.

I wouldn't worry too much.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

You have it quite wrong, as usual. The drab miserable ones are the wealthy:

Drab black or white or silver vehicles
Drab white black or gray clothing (are they always going to a funeral?)
Drab white walls (no colorful art), and black or white floors.
Interior of homes: Drab sanitized. (Looks like an office conference room).
Their color scheme consists of only black, gray, silver or white. DRAB.
And their snarl and snooty nose in the air look tells me and others that they are quite miserable (having to pay that outrageous mortgage and HOA fee, taxes, etc.).

The poor: Lots of colors (red, blues, greens, yellow, orange, purple, etc) in their homes and clothing, with smiles. No nose in the air. They don't feel the need to be stuck up and think they are better than anyone else because of materialistic, shallow, superficial shit.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

Didn't realize they let Christians in here.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 3:55 am

Greetings from California! I'm bored to death at
work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break.
I enjoy the info you provide here and can't wait to take a
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I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, very good blog!

Posted by sexo on Oct. 12, 2013 @ 7:42 am

All of the comments are against the removal of the chess players, there was no good spin involved at all.

The wise thing would have been to not report at all and leave it the Guardian to howl, where no one cares but conspiracy kooks.

The Chronicle actually got it out there and people are complaining about it, what do you think about that tin foil hat Greg?

Whatever happens it will be grist for the conspiracy mill, whatever anyone anywhere does it's part of the conspiracy, if they did the opposite it would be part of the conspiracy too.

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

Anyone who disagrees with me is a conspiracy kook. I'm Matlock, and I like to throw around the term conspiracy to discredit anyone, because they're all engaged in conspiracy theories. Throwing out the word conspiracy instantly makes my conspiracy argument more credible. Did I mention conspiracy? Wait, I need to insert conspiracy about seven more times in my post. Conspiracy!

Posted by Matlock on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

Nothing increases rents faster than traffic-calmed streets filled with bicyclists. Rich people - especially younger techsters working long hours to make their fortunes - don't want to live on noisy, smelly traffic sewers filled with cars. Replace the cars with bicycles, a few trees, some trendy shops and watch the rents and housing prices soar in the neighborhood.

The bike and transit groups such as Transform, Bike Coalition, Livable City and the myriad of "smart development" groups like SPUR and Greenbelt Alliance are the vanguard of groups directly or indirectly helping developers, landlords, architects, politicians and many others connected to the real estate industry to increase land values, increase rents, and increase housing prices. Many of their staff and board members live in the lower Haight, the Mission, Glen Park, and other select neighborhoods where adding more transit and bike facilities increase their own property values, even though it's the property speculators and larger landlords who will make large and small fortunes transforming formerly middle-income neighborhoods into enclaves for the the rich and hip.

The complete gentrification of many parts of SF have now spilled over to Oakland, where long-time families are being uprooted and shipped off to the Central Valley, eastern Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and even out-of-state. These displaced residents are forced to move far from their friends, families and churches to places where a car is mandatory for driving 10 miles to the nearest grocery store, where heating and cooling costs are far greater, and where sprawl continues to chew up farmland and open space as fast as the government can build new roads to accommodate it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

activists. both discourage the provision of new housing, in different ways, thereby pushing up the value of their own RE holdings.

Take Marcos, for instance, who vehemently opposes the new build of condo's in the Mission and SOMA, while enjoying the appreciation of this 800K condo at SVN/16th which accretes directly because of the lack of new homes in that area.

Same with Welch, Hestor, Daly, Shaw, Redmond and so on.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

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