October 23, 2002

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Saving clubs (and S.F.)

FOR YEARS, it seems, the San Francisco Police Department has been at war with nightlife in the city. In the most famous case, the cops tried to shut down 1015 Folsom, a large and popular club, on the basis of a string of criminal complaints that were either bogus or had little to do with the operations of the club. That led Sup. Mark Leno to push for the creation of the Entertainment Commission, which will take over the authority for regulating club permits next year.

But the crackdown hasn't ended – if anything, as Corbett Miller reports on page 20, it's gotten worse. Over the past few weeks, several popular clubs have lost their permits – and some have been forced to sign an agreement banning heavy metal, loud rock, and hip-hop from the premises. In essence, the SFPD is deciding what type of music can be heard in San Francisco.

The cops' edict is quite possibly unconstitutional and amounts to, in the words of one critic, "music profiling." Capt. Greg Corrales of the Mission Police Station freely admits he wants to keep fans of hip-hop – in many cases, young African Americans – out of the clubs. Corrales can't point to any concrete evidence that hip-hop shows in San Francisco have led to violence or crime, but he persists in his position – as do groups like the Potrero Hill Boosters, which is pushing for restrictions on certain types of music in that neighborhood.

All this is further evidence that the cops have no business regulating nightlife in San Francisco – and it helps make the case for Proposition F, the fall ballot initiative that would ensure an independent Entertainment Commission.

Prop. F is one of a series of important progressive ballot campaigns this fall. It's a remarkable – and incredibly important – working group: as we reported Oct. 9 there's a concerted, well-financed downtown effort to roll back the progressive gains of the district elections era. Sup. Aaron Peskin made the point at a well-attended rally Sept. 19: big business has the money, but the activists have the numbers. A massive, concerted final push in the last two weeks of the campaign can hand downtown a clear and convincing defeat. To get involved, call the No on N headquarters, which is taking the lead on the coordinated campaign, at (415) 346-4808.