Celebrating by Destruction: Inside the Giants World Series Riot
|Celebratory fireworks on Mission Street.|
The morning of the last World Series game, I woke up around 9:30 a.m. and outside the bathroom window I saw my upstairs neighbors yelling about the liquor store not being open yet. The chance for the Giants to sweep the Detroit Tigers apparently was a green light for an all-day binge drinking event, and my neighbors were not going to waste another minute. I sighed heavily, it was going to be a long day.
Flash forward to about 8:45 p.m. as I'm making dinner in my kitchen. My noise from my neighbors' TV had risen exponentially to the point where I was hearing the entire play-by-play of the game from their screaming voices. All of a sudden the ceiling above my head started shaking with triumphant roars and a sea of stomping feet. That's when the first cars started honking and someone above started screaming unintelligibly out the window, and all I was able to catch was "AHHH GIANTS BABY! WOOOO!!!"
My neighbors all bee-lined down the stairs sounding like a herd of elephants and spilled out into the street, which was already filled with people, and soon to be filled with a lot more. There was an extremely loud and low-flying helicopter in the sky, shining a spotlight on various intersections filling up with celebrating fans. I had homework to do, so I told my roommate to be safe and to call me if anything crazy was happening. About five minutes later I was staring at my research paper proposal and quickly realized that the noise of all the honking cars outside was going to make doing any work next to impossible. I put on my Thrasher hat (not really a huge baseball fan but I had to rep S.F. in some way), grabbed my point and shoot film camera, a couple of rolls, and my skateboard and headed downstairs.
I live on 20th and Lexington, so I skated down towards Mission Street where I assumed most of the lawlessness would be occurring. I didn't make it to the end of the block before I ran into a few friends on the corner. They said they were heading to the intersection of 19th and Mission in front of Beauty Bar where a huge crowd had already formed, so I tagged along. The game had only been over for 20 minutes and the streets were overflowing with people covered in black and orange.
|Limbo with a street sign on Mission Street.|
As we approached the intersection I became aware of many things, particularly of the fact that everyone was walking in the middle of the street. I had no idea that Mission Street was blocked off from 24th up to 16th Street. The streets were a packed and chaotic mess of overjoyed fans, both young and old. I was actually surprised to see so many small children running around amidst the masses -- some of them barely old enough to be in kindergarten were shooting off small sparklers and firecrackers.
The street in front of Beauty Bar was unlike anything I had ever witnessed in San Francisco - hundreds of people had formed a circle around a huge burning flame, which was being fueled by an assortment of nearby plastic trash cans, wood pallets, and debris. The whole scene was very primitive and reminded me of some sort of aborigine gathering: people running around in circles around the flames, jumping and dancing and yelling like wild beasts.
Cars that were stuck and blocked in the intersection (either parked there by choice or because there was nowhere else to go) turned into dance floors as sound systems were bumped to full volume and people scrambled to climb up above the crowd and dance for all to see. There were more than a few drunken displays of frontal nudity much to the approval of the cheering masses, and I couldn't believe I didn't see anyone slip off of a beer covered car roof.
I got separated from my friends so I skated toward 24th Street. I was able to make it about two blocks before I was blocked by another crowd surrounding a huge fire being fed by contents of the dumpster it was situated next to. People were dancing on top of the dumpster and being handed trash and bottles and road signs to toss into the flames. Others were running around laughing and having friends shoot photos of them posing in front of the fire like it was a famous landmark. The fun didn't last too long here at this intersection though, with its proximity to the police barricade at 24th. Riot cops soon showed up to kick people off of the dumpster, and things started to get ugly as some very drunk (and underage) kids start getting in the cops' faces for ruining their fun.
I made my way further down the street to the intersection of 23rd and Mission, where a tamer and more family-oriented crowd had gathered and was dancing to chants of "Lets go Giants!" and "Fuck Detroit!" among other things. There were cops on the roof of the Sketchers building on the corner, and this incited a great deal of booing and bottle throwing. Soon enough people began lighting some seriously loud and definitely not street legal fireworks that came dangerously close to hitting buildings, power lines, and drunk people passing through. Car alarms going off from the blasts could barely be heard over the screaming crowds.
As I skated further down Mission, I was finally able to spot the police barricade. Hundreds of officers in full riot gear were lined up along the intersection, looking somewhere between generally bored or pissed about the chaos ensuing right before their eyes. I couldn't understand why they weren't making efforts to subdue anyone drinking in public or doing far worse things, but that would come later.