February 12, 2003




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In this issue

ON THE DAY the Office of Homeland Security announced the United States was going to Code Orange, I heard the governor of California on the radio telling us all we shouldn't worry about a thing. "California is as secure as it has ever been," he announced.

Should we worry about Code Orange? Nah: just do whatever you were planning to do this weekend – but if you notice anything unusual, be sure to tell the authorities at once. "I know that sounds confusing," Davis said, "but these are confusing times."

Yes, they are. I don't feel any more or any less secure under Code Orange: the cops are all on alert, but then, if the terrorists are going to strike in California, well, they know it's Code Orange, too, so they're probably going to be a bit more alert themselves.

In the meantime the San Francisco cops are getting out of control. It wasn't any fear of terrorism that caused a crew of police officers to overreact to a demonstration last Thursday in front of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center on Market Street. As we report on page 13, a group of folks from Gay Shame were out protesting the fact that Sup. Gavin Newsom was hosting a fundraiser at the center. That's a San Francisco kind of thing – protesting that a guy who is terrible on a lot of issues that matter to the progressive wing of the queer community is holding an exclusive fundraiser at the LGBT center – and in the past couple of years, the cops have reacted with relative restraint to relatively peaceful protests.

But not this time. The toll: Four arrests, two initially on felony charges (which were later reduced to misdemeanors). Several injuries, one serious enough to require medical treatment.

And I fear it's just going to get worse.

The last big peace march was pretty mellow (just a handful of anarchists spraying some graffiti and making a bit of a mess), and the cops refrained from charging in like storm troopers. But as the invasion of Iraq moves forward, the protests are going to get more heated – and it's going to be even more important for the cops to keep from inciting any further violence.

And at press time we learned that the police at San Francisco International Airport are preparing to launch random searches of cars coming onto airport property. I feel safer already.

Tim Redmond tredmond@sfbg.com