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Re: “More Bands Are Chasing Fewer Bucks

Piero's comments on this article are in direct parallel with the freedoms that we are loosing on a daily basis in this country. His astute understanding of the money trail points out how asleep we all have been to not speak up sooner. The Bay Area, a cultural haven for independent artists and home to the most liberal and daring of thinkers and doers in America is under siege. The SFPD are currently doing all they can to harass venue owners in SF and make their lives miserable. There are forces at play that are currently seeking to close many of our clubs down through fines and by challenging their permits to operate.

This article only scrapes the surface of what is happening. Yes, bands and artists alike are being challenged by the changed playing field of the music industry but the entire culture of nightlife itself is currently being threatened. If we don't come together as a community and raise our voices in a united outcry of anger and outrage we will soon find ourselves living in a world of nothing but corporate controlled "culture". The DIY bands and independent artists who come up through the ranks of smaller venues will have nowhere to play and under aged youth will have nowhere to go at night to enjoy their favorite local artist.

Below is a letter written by one of the staff at the 1015 nightclub in SF (one of the largest independently owned clubs in SF) and I believe it accurately reflects the pervasive nature of what SF nightlife is currently facing. If you are as outraged as I was when I first read it come join me on January 21st at the Flux Summit where we will be holding a town hall style meeting to discuss these issues and what can be done to combat them. This is a FREE event designed to stimulate discussion and build community awareness. For more info go to http://www.fluxsummit.com

Gregory J. Gordon: Music Producer, Educator, CEO/Founder Pyramind Studios SF

Dearest Sir/Madam,

I write reluctantly to complain about a San Francisco Police Sergeant
regarding his actions on Saturday, December 19, 2009, at 1015 Folsom, where I am employed as the security manager, and have been so for over 11 years.

We had a corporate Christmas party for a multi-national billion dollar
corporation, which began at 8:00 p.m. and was catered by a reputable
company that had paid nearly two thousand dollars for permits to the City
and County of San Francisco in order to close the Harriet Street alley,
provide heated food, and various other permits required to provide their

I had two security staff posted at the barricades blocking the Harriet
Street alley in order to allow residents to gain access to the alley. The
company hosting the party had arranged to have their attendees ferried from various hotels to the club to ensure no-one left the party intoxicated and drove in violation of 23152 (a)/(b) (driving under the influence).

The party was well attended by individuals dressed in suits and evening
wear. The crowd was extremely well behaved and numbered approximately
eight hundred people in our venue which has a legal capacity of thirteen
hundred and fifty seven.

Some time after midnight a marked San Francisco police SUV pulled up and
stopped in the middle of the Folsom Street /Harriet Street intersection and
a Sergeant, possibly named Gallagher, (described as a African Male Adult,
late 40’s, Black Hair, Heavy set), exited the vehicle. He approached
Howard Dybe, one of my staff wearing a suit who was working the exit door.
He confronted Dybe angrily and stated, Are you security here?” Dybe
acknowledged he was a member of the security staff. The Sergeant then
stated, “Are you going to fix all the shit going on here?” Dybe was taken
aback by the Sergeants tone and demeanor and told the Sergeant that he
would summon a manager and radioed me over to his position.

I approached Sergeant Gallager and asked how I could help him. Gallagher
yelled, “Are you the one I am going to cite for all this illegal shit going
on here?” I was somewhat confused by the Sergeants’ question and was
offended by his lack of professionalism, profanity and demeanor. I asked
him what was the matter in a polite and respectful manner. The Sergeant
got within inches of my face and thrust his right index finger toward my
face. He then yelled , “that fucking bus is parked illegally, the street
is blocked, those people are passing out food, and the sidewalk is

The bus the Sergeant was referring to was legally parked in a white zone in
front of the club. The caterer was positioned beneath our awning passing
out cookies, water, and pizza to attendees as they were leaving the party
and getting on the bus. The sidewalk was not blocked and there were no
passer’s by, other than one homeless person who stopped and asked for a
slice of pizza and a water which was given to him and he then continued
westbound on Folsom. The sidewalk measures approximately twelve feet wide
and there was clearly no obstruction. When I pointed out the curb was
painted white and attendees were boarding the bus, which was not a
violation of the law, the Sergeant grew more incensed and yelled at me
again stating, “You need a permit to pass out food, and you need a permit
to block the fucking street.” I responded by telling him we had permits
for both activities, again in a polite, quiet, and respectful manner. The
Sergeant responded, “I’d like to see that, go get them…right fucking now!”

I approached the caterer and asked for his copies of the permits and he
gave me a white binder that contained all the information about the party,
including copies of the permits. At the bottom of the permit there was a
notation that in case of any issues Sergeant Yamagucci should be contacted
at (415) 602-1817.

The Sergeant questioned the caterer in an accusatory manner and demanded
that the caterer locate each permit. The Sergeant then got on the radio
and put himself out on the radio in front of 1015 Folsom. The caterer
complied with the Sergeant demands, showing him each permit and several
police units rolled by. I called Sergeant Yamagucci and advised him of the
situation. He advised me to give the other Sergeant my telephone so I
walked over and told the Sergeant I had Sergeant Yamaguci on the telephone
and explained he wanted to speak with him. The Sergeant snatched the
telephone from my hand and began speaking. I backed away and shortly
thereafter the Sergeant stormed up to me again, he threw my telephone to me
and said, “This isn’t over yet”, and pointed to a bus parked west of
Harriet that was waiting for the other bus to clear the white zone. He
yelled at me to have the bus moved which I did. I had previously
instructed the party planner to have the busses park in the white zone and
asked that they drive around the block if the white zone was not clear.
Apparently one driver failed to heed my request and was double parked. I
had the party planner move the bus and circle the block. I spoke with
Sergeant Yamaguci again and he advised that he could not stop the other
Sergeant from issuing a citation but would speak to his Captain if a
citation was issued.

I asked Sergeant Gallagher if there were any other issues that needed
attention and he made some reference that he could find some if I wanted
some. I asked for his name and badge number and requested he call his
supervisor. The Sergeant declined, got into his SUV and sped off. Over
the next ten minutes I counted eight patrol cars roll by, so I called
Sergeant Yamagucci and advised him I wanted to speak with a Lieutenant or
the night Captain. He advised the Southern Station was having its
Christmas party and that no-one was available. He further stated that
units from all over the city were pulled into the southern district so the
southern units could celebrate Christmas. He offered to respond and did
so. He was extremely polite, asked several questions and said he would
speak to his Captain on Monday.

The party planner was upset by this incident and questioned whether they
should move the party to another venue next year if the police always acted
that way. The party is worth over forty thousand dollars to the club, not
to mention, the number of hotel rooms that were filled as a result of the

Given the current state of the economy, and the City’s financial woes it
would seem to me that rather than drive business out of the city the
opposite would be true.

I was a police officer for over sixteen years and I have never seen a
police officer as rude as that Sergeant. He was unprofessional, profane,
and provocative and seemed to be spoiling for a fight. I do not appreciate
being threatened, I do not like telephones thrown at me, and I do not need
to be treated like some lowlife.

I have long had a good relationship with the officers in the southern
station. My staff and I pride ourselves on our courtesy and
professionalism. Lately I have seen a change in the way many of the
officers deal with issues involving nightclubs.
Last Saturday there was a fight in our front room between two women.
Several other people joined in and I ended up dragging a male out of the
club after he took a swing at me and then threatened to kill me with an
AK-47. He fought me, and other members of his group fought the staff. He
then called out to the crowd and told them to call and get the boys down to
the club with AR-15’s and told me I was going to die.

All of the party’s were arrested and the police were called. When they
arrived we were treated like suspects and I was chastised by a short
Hispanic female Sergeant for responding to the person who had previously
threatened to kill me after he turned toward me and again told me I was a
“dead man”, right in front of the police who did nothing.

Everyone was taken to jail and the matter was investigated as a strong arm
robbery. I was later called and asked to respond to the southern station
where I was interviewed by the night inspector. When I asked for my
handcuffs back along with another set of my staffs cuffs a cursory search
was performed and I was advised they were missing.

About a month ago I observed a Lieutenant on a motorcycle make a stop down the street. I walked over and asked if he wanted some help after noting
there were several occupants in the vehicle he had stopped. He said he
would appreciate a hand. The driver bolted and ran and the Lieutenant was
attacked. I chased the driver down who entered the passenger side of
another car and I was attacked. The driver got into the rear seat of the
vehicle and a female stabbed my left arm several times with a screw driver
and yelled to the driver to drive off. I pulled the keys out of the
ignition and pulled the original suspect out of the car. He fought me and
I was again assaulted by another party. Lieutenant Crenshaw marched across
the street with his gun out and backed everyone away while I fought the
suspect. Units finally arrived and assisted me in handcuffing the suspect
while the Lieutenant kept the other assailants at bay.

I got yelled at by a Sergeant who arrived on scene so I left after a brief
conversation with the Lieutenant who said without my help he probably might
have had to shoot someone. I was later interviewed by an Inspector over
the telephone.

I attended a meeting a couple of years ago with the command staff and other night club operators where we were advised that we needed to call the police more often and they were there to assist us. When we have called
the police lately, we are treated as a nuisance and in some instances more
like suspects than people trying to help maintain order.

There is no doubt that some establishments are poorly run, have security
that is less than professional and need cleaning up. In speaking with
other heads of security there seems to be a sense that the dark days of the
police trying to close nightclubs is returning.

Mistreating people, swearing at them, threatening them and then expecting
cooperation, understanding, and support seems ludicrous to me.
Sergeant Gallagher owes me an apology and the City of San Francisco owes me two sets of handcuffs. I have, and always will support the police, but
what is occurring lately is not police work it is more like bullying and
that I do not support.

Sergeant Gallagher, or whatever his name is, needs to be reined in and kept
away from the public.

Posted by GJGordon on 12/30/2009 at 12:29 AM

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