Producer Daron was assaulted by a homeless man in San Francisco
I knew there were going to be issues when I visited San Francisco, but not like this.
The Jason Rantz Show recently covered San Francisco’s homeless problem, and how that city’s new “Poop Patrol” employees make well over $100,000 a year to clean the streets of human excrement. So as I went on a weekend trip with my wife to the city, I was aware that we may be stepping over some poop and needles.
It was worse than that. We weren’t even in San Francisco for an hour before I was assaulted by a homeless man.
We were outside of The Ferry Building on The Embarcadero. I was looking down at my phone to order a Lyft to our next destination when it happened. A man, clearly having some kind of breakdown, shuffled towards me and buried his elbow into my abdomen. The blow nearly knocked me over. As I began to look up to see what had happened, my wife Ashley grabbed my arm and pulled me away. She had seen it coming and she knew that if I turned to make eye-contact with the man the confrontation would have escalated. She hurried me away from the man, who now stood motionless, cursing loudly at me.
Big cities and strange people don’t usually bother me. I have kind of been floating through life without many worries. This was the first time I’ve been afraid. While the blow from the man’s elbow didn’t necessarily hurt, it had an impact on me. I couldn’t help but fixate on how much worse it could have been. “What if he had a knife,” I thought to myself. “What if Ashley hadn’t pulled me away so quickly?”
The event dictated the rest of the trip. I wasn’t acting like myself. I was reluctant to walk anywhere. I wanted to hang at the hotel bar all night. The restaurant we visited that evening was only two blocks away. I was beginning to cringe and fold into myself every time we passed another shady looking person — which was often.
One of our Lyft drivers took us through The Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, which is apparently the epicenter of the problem right now. It’s sort of like the eye of a storm, but this storm is a category 5 homelessness crisis. It looked like a third world country in the heart of a thriving financial district. And in a major American city. Beautiful skyscrapers soared above houses made of crates, garbage lined streets, and exposed butts (of which I saw three).
I had promised Jason that I would take pictures, but I was genuinely too afraid to point my camera in their direction.
Ashley and I couldn’t stop talking about it with the San Franciscans we met. We were told that The Tenderloin, a major area right in the heart of downtown, had gotten so bad because the homeless people have pushed out of the residential areas. I can understand why people wouldn’t want these people outside of their homes. They were aggressive. They had a totally different vibe than homeless people in Seattle.
I kept wondering why the city wasn’t doing anything about it. There were clear crimes being committed at any given moment. The only police officer I saw was flashing his red and blue lights at a driver stopped at a traffic light. He told the driver to “pull over to the side of the road” over his megaphone. I’m not sure what law the driver had violated, but it couldn’t have been worse than assaulting a tourist in the middle of the day.