This Week in News: Pleasure Spiked with Pain
The past week was highlighted by some local political faux pas, the end of a hookup era and by millions that took to the street to protest gun violence and the killing of another unarmed black man. Let’s unpack a few key stories that impacted the Bay and beyond.
Stephon Clark: Rest in power
The city of Sacramento braced for a tense Thursday as they prepared to bury the body of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old man who was fatally shot 20 times by police in the backyard to his grandmother’s home on March 18. The incident sparked massive protests in the streets and inside City Hall itself as residents struggle to understand how a man “armed” with just a cell phone could have drawn such extreme force by police, even if it proves out that he was vandalizing nearby cars.
Questions remained unsettled the day of his funeral, including why authorities didn’t rely on the overhead surveillance and peacefully approach and detain him as a suspect once he was inside the home. Another important question that has yet to be answered is why police officers muted their body cams immediately following the shooting – that alone raised suspicions that the officers realized their error and were attempting to cover it up or get their stories straight without public scrutiny.
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders was pressed Wednesday for the Trump administration stance on the situation, Politico reports that she called it a “terrible incident” but the president considers this to be a “local matter”.
The DA and the slippery slope
There once was a man who sat on the Concord City Council, became the city’s mayor, was elected District Attorney, ended up a felon and as the East Bay Times reported Wednesday, is now officially disbarred.
That was the political career path for Mark A. Peterson and it was impressive, both for his ability to climb the ladder and for his notorious fall from grace. Last June, Peterson was found guilty of felony grand theft and 12 counts of felony perjury for misuse of $66,000 taken from campaign funds. He claimed the money spent on his own personal expenditures was a loan but the courts called it embezzlement and fined the former DA $45,000. The subsequent disbarment will be effective Saturday. His appointed replacement, Diana Becton, will face election in June.
Don’t you wish I’d said Nantucket?
Mayor boycotts the boycott
San Francisco Mayor Mark Ferrell took a trip to Arizona, as reported Friday by the San Francisco Chronicle. That seems innocuous enough, except that the travel violates a 2010 resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors in response to Arizona’s extreme anti-immigration SB1070 law. The itinerary for his trip included a meeting with the Scottsdale mayor and a Phoenix city councilman, and it was rumored that he was really itching to catch a baseball game while in town. Although Gavin Newsom signed the unanimously approved resolution, it is not considered legally binding, therefore Ferrell did not actually break any laws. But the conservative mayor appointed in the wake of Ed Lee’s death surely didn’t go out of his way to uphold the spirit of the city’s wishes and values.
Craigslist: pimp no more
Long before there were “dating” apps like Plentyoffish, OkCupid and Tinder, Craigslist was pretty much the only game in town for horny singles (or not-so-singles) looking to go the unconventional route. The personals section, and more specifically the seedy area for “casual encounters”, was once the mecca for hookups that sometimes evolved into friendships or real relationships (gasp!), but more often ended in awkward walks of shame. Isn’t that really just dating, in a nutshell?
But those days are done! In response to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act Congress passed, the lords of Craigslist decided to nixe the personals sections entirely, before they can be held liable for illegal sex traficking that occurs on their platform. And so marks the end of an era.
Although most people have the moral compass to want to protect others from being victims of sex crimes, many of us will also mourn the loss of our late-night carnal binges. Don’t judge, you know you’ve spent too many hours scrolling through the raunchy, ridiculous and hilarious ads, free of charge, or hoping you were that “missed connection” some lonely dude was so desperate to find.
Full disclosure: I met one of the coolest people I know through Craigslist many, many moons ago – and we’re still friends. So take that, naysayers! And it turns out I’m not alone, according to a pretty fantastic Vice article. So let’s toast to protecting the innocent and poor some out for our intentionally less innocent homies.
March for our lives: Kids are better seen and heard
You may have heard something about some kids loitering in the streets Saturday, except it was far more than a few and they were loitering with a mission. Across 800 U.S. cities and in sister marches around the world, students and supporters marched powerfully, spoke dynamically and shared tears for not only victims of school shootings, but for all people that have suffered at the wrong end of a gun. An estimated 800,000 people showed up in Washington D.C., supported by hundreds of thousands that gathered in smaller marches across the country, including in San Francisco and other locations throughout the Bay.
What the Parkland students were able to achieve with the march organization is incredible, but it speaks volumes for a society that was ready to come together to demand change. The massacre in Florida was a catalyst but it was also just one of the latest in a long and tragic string of unnecessary deaths. The movement’s power comes from every family member and friend who has lost someone they love far too soon. It comes from the constant killing of black men at the hands of police. It comes from the suicide rate facilitated by guns. And yes, it comes from a fear of sending our children to school to be met by an AR-15. (Note: CPR and a bucket of rocks don’t do much in the face of an assault rifle. Just saying.)
The march may not have changed policy immediately but it did clearly demonstrate the demand of the people. And surprisingly, Saturday proved to many that this next generation is an educated, articulate and formidable force to be reckoned with, strong enough to face ridicule from the NRA and keep on moving. The stagnant politicians would do well to calculate the fact that these “kids” will soon be voting and they’re not afraid to “call bullshit”.
And in case you missed it: Trump is still under Russia investigation fire and he keeps firing key personnel. So basically, things remain unchanged in the White House.