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A Fear and Grief Cocktail

Apr
21
2004

God only knows what Sen. Dianne Feinstein was thinking when she called for the death penalty for the 21-year-old who shot SF Police officer Isaac Espinoza. At the officer’s funeral. Not exactly a time when emotions are in check.


Feinstein – in whose name its recently been suggested that San Francisco schools change their desegregation policy – lit a match near the gas pump. Then she blew town. She’s essentially said that newly elected San Francisco District Attorney (and fellow Democrat) Kamala Harris isn’t doing her job. The Senator’s staff is doing spin on her recent behavior and it sounds plausible but…Feinstein departing from the script? Hmmmmm.
The Chron’s Matier and Ross have the details on the mess but take the boy’s account with a grain of salt — they can be spun like cotton candy. And while Feinstein was quick to repudiate her support for the schools’ measure, it’s casting just a little shadow here over Harris and her now public dispute with Police Chief Heather Fong and the rest of the SFPD. See it? The ugly specter of race politics? The pollsters’ favorite wedge issue gone wild.
Look at it this way: Harris, an African-American women, won election with a great deal of support from the mostly black Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. She’s refusing to ask for the death penalty for a young, black man. Not exactly a hard choice, politically. The death penalty is under attack for a host of reasons – many of them have to do with racial politics, as Feinstein ought to know and bear in mind. Stir in the occasional animosity between this city’s Asian community – of which Fong is a member – and the black community, recently stirred up by the school desegregation plan. Throw on a healthy heap of those old white boy tension and serving of the resentment found in almost every police force and we could have big, big trouble.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has said, repeatedly, that he treasures this city’s diversity – and I gotta tell you, it does a body good to be typing women’s names when writing about city politics. But he better get out there and poor oil on roiling waters, and a fancy pair of Nikes and a basketball game ain’t gonna do it.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:54 AM | Permalink

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