Just another typical story from the utopia of criminal justice reform where crazies roam the streets and no one does anything until something really bad happens. There are a lot of similar stories from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Philly, Portland, Seattle, and they end the same way.
Everyone knew. No one did anything. And then it happened.
Nicolas King has typed notes into his phone for the past seven years documenting scary behavior by a frequent visitor to his block and the numerous 911 calls he and his neighbors made in response.
Lucian Ruiz, 33, sits in County Jail on $400,000 bail, ordered at a preliminary hearing Wednesday to stand trial on a host of charges including arson, assaulting two police officers, threatening two police officers and possessing an incendiary device. He is due back in court April 28.
Meanwhile, five households in the Castro — including three families with kids, one of them a newborn — were burned out of their homes, displaced during a pandemic and their belongings ruined.
All it took to finally, temporarily, put him in jail was burning 5 homes.
And the saddest part of all, say neighbors and a city supervisor, is city officials knew from the scores of 911 calls and other reports over nearly a decade that Ruiz made life hellish for the residents of the flats on Eureka Street.
That’s just the reality of urban life now.
If a crazy vagrant decides to make your building or block into his special project, that’s it. You can move or you can laboriously work the system with no result unless you’re say Mark Zuckerberg, in which case you can advocate for criminal justice reform while getting pests thrown out.
No one liked Casa Zuckerberg and its guards who park on the street in their silver SUVs, but matters escalated when William “Gordon” Kinzer, an accountant who used to live in the Dolores Heights area, before being priced out by tech titans, lost his home and became mentally ill.
Kinzer began sleeping at a friend’s house. Zuckerberg’s private army didn’t like Kinzer. Team Zuckerberg took out a restraining order against the homeless accountant, accusing him of being a racist. The restraining order left Kinzer actually homeless, forcing him to sleep in his car.
“I was concerned for my safety,” one of Zuck’s guards claimed about the disabled accountant.
When Kinzer violated the restraining order, he was arrested.
Not the case with Ruiz who wasn’t dealing with a billionaire and his private army. And the rest was inevitable.
Police officers arrived at 11:32 a.m. and, according to a statement from the department, “made contact with an adult male armed with a knife who fled from the officers.” As they searched for him, they noticed smoke coming from a building on the block and summoned the Fire Department.
The article is full of hand-wringing about the lack of a plan. And people who actually follow the law realizing how futile it all is.
“I fear that he’ll be back in the neighborhood before I am,” said King, who is bracing for the double whammy of dealing with his insurance company and getting rebuilding permits from the city’s notoriously slow Department of Building Inspection.
King, who works in special projects for the city’s Public Works Department, has worked at City Hall since 2005. He also served as a legislative aide to former Supervisor Bevan Dufty and as a policy adviser to former Mayor Gavin Newsom, now California’s governor. If someone as well connected as him can’t get help for a bubbling neighborhood crisis, nobody can.
“I know the system inside and out. Imagine pleading for help from exactly the right people and this still happens,” he said. “How can there not be a plan? No more thoughts, prayers and task forces. Where is the plan?”
Come on. You know the plan. The plan is to defund the police and let the crazies run wild. And then put another billion into mental health services.
Once upon a time when America, and even San Fran, were saner places, the plan was pretty clear. Institutionalize crazies and don’t let them run wild through the streets until something like this happens.
That’s no longer the plan. And so we have arsons, random stabbings, mass shootings, and the return of medieval diseases.
Call it Plan B.
The good thing is that Plan A is still available. All you need for Plan A is a sane government, a sane media, and a sane public discourse. But when crazies run the system, you can’t expect them to lock up their own.
Now let’s legalize crack and PCP and see how much better things get.
Beth Clark, who lived in the apartment underneath 112 Eureka with her husband and two boys, said that when the fire was put out and Ruiz was apprehended, officials said her home would probably be broken into and ransacked that night because burned homes usually are in the city.
Criminal justice reform. It’s nowhere you want to be. Much like San Francisco.
“The police were very upset that they’d been dealing with this guy for so long,” she continued. “I said, ‘Hopefully, this arson thing will get him put away for a long time,’ and an officer said, ‘Don’t count on it.’ But he set the house on fire knowing there were children right below him.”
If you like criminal justice reform, you hate children and the innocent.