Setting it straight: Guard talks about meeting fiasco 

Only in San Francisco could the zany political kaleidoscope so color a story that almost all the facts would be obscured.

And leave it to the town’s official crier to take the story, strip it of pertinent information and hype it into a headline.

That would be supercilious Supervisor Chris Daly, who is attempting to get his fellow board members to back a silly resolution that paints a victim as a criminal and asks him to apologize for allegedly being physically accosted, falsely imprisoned and repeatedly threatened by members of The City’s Nation of Islam group — though not in so many words.

The security guard held against his will outside a public meeting Feb. 18 has not talked until now and still fears for his life because of the events of that evening. But the fact that he’s a highly decorated and much-respected former San Francisco police officer who won 14 medals of valor for bravery adds a little more credence to his story.

Daly’s version is mostly a work of fiction, but you probably figured that out already.

The guard, who has his own security firm, was hired by Lennar Corp. to attend a meeting that was billed as a public hearing by the Stop Lennar Action Movement, a group that has been trying to block the company from developing a huge residential project with claims that it’s stirring up toxic dust in the area — allegations the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The City have rejected.

The man said he was sitting at the meeting with a tape recorder — as were a number of other people in the audience — when he was approached by two members of the Nation of Islam and asked to hand over his tape recorder. He declined.

The former officer told me that after he was pulled out of the public meeting at the Nation of Islam’s Center for Self-Improvement and Community Development, four of the organization’s members surrounded him, pinned him against a wall and told him "they would break my arms if I moved."

"At one point, there were nearly a dozen people surrounding me, and one of the guys kept saying, ‘Let’s cap [shoot] this motherf---er," said the guard, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retaliation. "At one point, they all started moving in on me and I thought I was going to die. It was going bad really quick."

He said he tried to remain calm, and when a police car appeared about a block away from the site in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, he suggested they flag it down to end the situation.

"And they said that I wasn’t leaving anywhere, that they handle their own business," he said. "And at that point, they handcuffed me to a pole. And in my mind, I thought that this was the last night my kids were ever going to see me."

It was only after he was handcuffed that he informed the group that he had a concealed weapon, for which he is fully licensed to carry. That further inflamed group members, who started shouting racial slurs at him and threatened to break his arms.

This point is key because the police report suggests that the Nation of Islam members called police because they saw the imprint of a gun in the security guard’s back pocket.

But, in fact, the gun was so small, so completely invisible, that when San Francisco police arrived, they couldn’t even locate the weapon after the guard told them exactly where it was (it’s actually smaller than a wallet).

"None of those people who accosted me, who held me against my will, ever saw a gun; it was never produced," the guard said.

The merits of carrying a licensed weapon to public meetings may be debatable, but not for the Board of Supervisors, since The City has no jurisdiction over state gun laws. But asking for a public apology may not be a bad idea — as long as it is the Nation of Islam that issues it.

I hate to let the facts ruin a good story, but this one deserves such a fate. The security guard did not.

 

Ken Garcia appears Tuesdays and Fridays in The Examiner. E-mail him at kgarcia@sfexaminer.com.

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