The hundreds of
thousands of people who usually flock to an annual
Halloween street party in San Francisco are being warned to
stay home or go elsewhere after several episodes of
violence in recent years.
have advised would-be revelers through fliers, public
service announcements, and juvenile probation officers that
they won't find many treats in the Castro District,
home in past years to the largest Halloween happening
in the San Francisco Bay area.
What they will
find are hundreds of extra police officers, shuttered
restaurants, stepped-up sobriety checks, and no bus or train
service after 8:30 p.m.
''This is really
a public safety decision,'' said city supervisor Bevan
Dufty, who represents the Castro and spent the better part
of a year trying to arrange an alternative
city-sanctioned gathering. ''I'm disappointed my
message is one of, 'Please don't come.'''
started decades ago as a homegrown celebration for San
Francisco gays and lesbians but has drawn a scarier element
in recent years. In 2002 five people were stabbed.
Three years ago someone wandered the crowds wielding a
Last year nine
revelers were shot when a confrontation between two groups
of young people erupted into gunfire, despite ramped-up
security. No one has been arrested in the shooting.
eerie when you are looking around seeing people, most
of them not in costume, looking each other in the eye with
suspicion,'' said Castro resident Betty Sullivan, who
narrowly missed getting caught in last year's gunfire.
Sullivan said she
is anxious enough about what will transpire this year
that she doesn't even plan to watch from her front stoop. On
Tuesday she could hear loudspeakers and sirens, part
of the city's emergency notification system, being
tested from her home.
talked to is pretty much on the same page I am, which is
it needed not to happen,'' she said. ''I'm like, shut it
down. I don't even want to pretend it's going to be
come to the Castro only if interacting with police is their
idea of a good time, said Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for
Mayor Gavin Newsom. A city-financed Web site lists
dozens of other events elsewhere.
of the Castro are fed up with having a large, regional
party in the Castro, and frankly, anyone who thinks it's a
good idea to have a large, regional event in the
Castro on a weeknight needs to have their head
examined,'' he said.
To reinforce that
the welcome mat has been officially rolled up, the city
arranged to have probation officers throughout the area tell
their young clients that going into San Francisco will
be considered a probation violation.
owners were angry when the city asked them to close early
on Halloween night, but 34 bars, restaurants and stores that
sell liquor have since agreed, according to Dufty. He
said he hopes to help organize a pub crawl or another
event to make up for the money they lose.
''There will be
people who come to see what's happening, but when they
realize the restaurants and bars are almost universally
closed, I think they will go home,'' he
said. (Lisa Leff, AP)