Watchu Lookin’ At?
"With the injunctions, the city is saying young men in San Francisco can’t hang out in the only places they know, but they’re not giving us any alternatives. "
We’re being watched. But my friends and I aren’t on a reality TV show. We’re living in some of San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods.
In recent months, the city has been installing surveillance cameras in housing projects and rough neighborhoods in an effort to cut down on crime, especially gang violence. At the same time, city police have also been enforcing civil injunctions that ban suspected gang members from known turfs, or places where there’s been previous gang violence.
I’ve been on the street numerous times when shots have gone off. I’ve seen friends get gunned down right in front of me. I know the new policy won’t stop a killer from driving by and letting off shots in the direction they choose.
The Fillmore is one of the key neighborhoods targeted by the city’s gang injunctions. All of my friends live there and some are no longer allowed to associate with each other because of the injunctions.
I have so many memories from growing up around the Fillmore and the Mission, both good and bad. I remember my first attempt at rapping with my older cousins in my auntie’s stairway on Octavia Street. But I also remember being four years old and coming home with my mom to a bloody man lying on our front steps.
Many families have fled these neighborhoods in recent years by choice, and in many cases, because of gentrification. But for kids like me, places like the Mission and Fillmore are always called home. We never leave because we can’t relate to anything else.
With the injunctions, the city is saying young men in San Francisco can’t hang out in the only places they know, but they’re not giving us any alternatives.
With all the surveillance cameras towering above us, and legal paperwork that keeps San Franciscans from walking their own streets, the city has their mechanical eye on us. But from what I’ve seen with human eyes, it’s going to take more to make a lasting change.