Last Thursday, Sept. 3 at approximately 2:50 pm, I was on my way to Pearl Market on Divisadero to grab a beer. I had a hopefully-job-related phone call at 3:00 and I wanted to make sure I had a frosty beverage. That call had to be postponed. For you see, as I passed Little Zion Baptist Church on the corner of Divis and Ellis, I noticed something on the sidewalk.
I froze. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I'm not Jewish as far as I know, but I've been to Auschwitz. I've been to the Anne Frank Haus in Amsterdam. I've read Maus. My grandmother fought in the Warsaw Underground. I don't respond well to swastikas. Especially not when they're on the sidewalk and back door of the black church that's a block from my front door.
That's right, in addition to the swastika on the sidewalk, the back door of the church was covered in hate-scrawl that couldn't decide whether it was more fond of Adolf Hitler or Satan. There was a big N.S.B.M. (National Socialist Black Metal); a giant upside-down pentagram with a cross through the center; the name S.S. Mob with each S in the Schutzstaffel style; and worst of all, written on the top of a step meant for those coming out the back door of the church: Kill All U <3
I had no idea what to do. But I needed to do something. I don't claim it to be the right thing, but I was in some kind of shock. First I continued on to the market, where I bought some kitchen gloves, some Ajax, a sponge, a scouring pad, and a big bottle of water (sorry, drought). I walked back to the church, took some photos for evidentiary purposes, and got to cleaning. Lo and behold, the swastika came off the sidewalk instantly - probably because the perpetrators used sidewalk chalk.
As a result, the writing on the door came off just as easily.
Someone walking by told me it must have "just happened" because he had walked by shortly before that and said "I would have noticed this."
I believed him.
I'm not sure if the church even knows about it yet. I provided a full accounting to the police, complete with pictures, and they said they would both contact the church and initiate a hate crimes investigation. I thought about contacting the District Supervisor, but City Hall superstar legislative aide Sunny Angulo advised me to make sure the parish itself was aware before taking things any further. And when I'm lucky enough to get Sunny's advice, I take it.
I haven't written about this yet because I didn't know how, but I think it's important to get this out there now that I've looked into it and discovered that San Francisco is suffering from a recent rash of hate crimes and white supremacist/satanic graffiti. The St. Paul Tabernacle Baptist Church in Bayview was broken into, with criminals spray-painting 666 on walls and pouring bleach on pews.
On Sept. 7, some charmer wandered around Portola spray-painting "No More Chinese" at several locations.
What concerns me most is the string of tagging incidents in the Mission, with perpetrators inscribing "White Power" and "NRK" on numerous "Mission street businesses and murals with Latino themes."
NRK might just be Millenial shorthand for "anarchy" but in the context of white power it often has a more precise meaning. Specifically it can refer to Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, due to its association with metal music, especially folk metal. In a nutshell, NRK is the kind of network that is spoken fondly of on networks like Stormfront, which is like MySpace for white supremacists (so, more like NotYourSpace). Many National Socialist black metal bands have experimented with folk metal and NRK is a venue for such music to percolate to Aryan masses.
So are Scandinavian-influenced Satanic White Supremacists engaging in some organized skullduggery here in our fair city? Are stupid people just acting out because they're pissed off about Kim Davis or amped up by Trump's nonsensical tirades against sanctuary cities? Is this just a case of couldnt-get-into-Burning Man wannabes getting bored, as evidenced by recent and similarly bizarre vandalism at a church near Lake Tahoe?
I don't know. I don't care. I just want it to stop. Because - even if it was done in an esoteric, inexplicably easily removed, incoherent, pseudo-Satanic, quasi-Nazi and bizarrely lackadaisical manner - the fact is, lives were threatened.
And this is exactly why people say Black lives matter. It's not that Black lives matter more than other lives; all lives matter. But many people treat Black people like their lives don't matter. The completed phrase isn't "Black lives matter more" - it's "Black lives matter also" and the sad fact is that far more people need to appreciate not just the true meaning of the sentiment, but the sentiment itself. We need to act like all lives matter, and right now we don't. We don't act like Black lives matter as much. We don't act like Red lives matter as much. We don't act like Brown lives matter as much.
When are we going to start acting?
*This post originally appeared on Kinda Kind with Ashley Lauren