On Scene with Bill Wilson: Policing the Castro


Police officer issuing a citation. Note the position of the police car.

There are times when I feel ashamed to be a human, times when all rational response seems pointless, but I still want to scream, “No, not in my name!”   A friend and I were standing on the southwest corner of 18th and Castro, on the Castro Street side of Harvey’s. We were both killing time because my friend had about an hour before he had to be at a 7 pm meeting. At the 18th side of Harvey’s there was a person standing with a cardboard sign that asked for money. When I had walked by him earlier he didn’t ask me for money. He was not in any way impeding traffic. He was standing at the edge of the sidewalk so no one had to go around him. My friend and I were making more noise than he was. So I was very surprised when I looked around and saw that a police officer was giving him a ticket. I didn’t want to make it worse for the guy getting the ticket so I stayed where I was and just kept taking pictures. It was also one of the few times I didn’t have my police issued Press Pass around my neck.


The cited person signs the citation for the officer. Note that there is now a bus in the bus stop across the street so that the police car is blocking traffic.

  I would submit that the only danger to the public was not the homeless guy silently soliciting funds, but rather from the police officer who during rush hour had pulled his car across the street so that he was facing west in the eastbound lane of 18th just before the intersection of Castro. I took more photos as he left and nearly collided with the person who was making a right turn from Castro to 18th.

I don’t usually give to homeless people on the street, but I was so angry at what I had witnessed I went over and asked the guy why he had been cited. He said that the police had given him a $76.00 ticket.  I was so mad that if I had had $76.00 in cash I would have given it to him, but I only had $40.


Police officer in his car ready to leave – note that the car on right has green light for right turn onto 18th.

 He showed me the citation put didn’t want me to photograph it. The only word I could make out under reason for citation was sidewalk. The officer might as well been a doctor his signature was so unreadable.

On my way back to my car there was a person sitting in the bus shelter at the stop at 18th and Diamond. He was having a very loud conversation with someone- even though there was no one visible and he wasn’t on a cell phone. The officer had to have passed him, but that citation probably would have taken more time and training to handle.


Fortunately the person in the car on the right was paying attention even if the police officer wasn’t.


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