Another week, another horrendous SF Weekly cover story. This week’s victim is San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong. The writer, Ron Russell, pens a sensational account filled with racist and sexist overtures. Fong, a hometown hero and the first Asian American women to lead a major police department in the country, is painted as nothing more than the frightening example of the dangers of affirmative action.
According to Russell’s portrayal, Fong is the deferential, subservient footstool for opportunity whore Mayor Gavin Newsom. Take this gem:
“Mild-mannered and deferential, Fong is the antithesis of Hollywood’s version of a big-city police chief. In a department whose chiefs have customarily come from the ranks of hard-nosed street cops…Fong spent only a few years as a beat cop on the not-so-mean streets of the Richmond before climbing the career ladder as an administrative tastemaker. Also unlike her predecessors, hers is the persona of a Girl Scout leader.”
Can’t get much more caricatured than that.
(Warning: this video below has incredibly cheesy music.)
The article goes on to mention how she’s kept her long-term boyfriend and deceased dog out of the public eye. Because we all know how important knowing whether your police chief feeds her dog puppy chow is to fighting crime. It also mentions how Fong allegedly fetched water for Gavin Newsom and his cohorts at a city meeting. Forreal.
I don’t necessarily trust cops. I also have a family history marred in the inaccuracies of the San Francisco Police Department. So I’d be the first person to criticize the department’s abysmal record in solving homicides and their overall ineffectiveness when it comes to building the community trust it takes to truly protect and serve. Yet this article is a glaring example of the tight-knit institutional hierarchy that contradicts the city’s utopian image. The hierarchy – call it white supremacy, male dominance, or a classic case of ‘the system’ – is often made up of white suburban transplants who own the city’s papers, run city government and report the city’s news with little regard for the historical context of their work.
Russell mentions how Fong replaced the old guard of hard-nosed Italian male police chiefs almost in passing (white male supremacy, anyone?) Mayor Gavin Newsom’s opportunistic ‘diversification’ of the city’s top ranks are also mentioned in passing (never mind that it’s a glaring example of co-opting multiculturalism to advance capitalism.) Instead, Fong is left to take the fall for decades of procedural blunders, institutional neglect and community distrust.
I guess this is what happens when your city – and everything in it – gets sold to the highest bidder.