Witnessess Disturbed by Beating Incident on Cortland

CortlandBennington 2

There was a violent incident on Cortland Avenue at Bennington on Sunday — right in the heart of Cortlandia. Witnesses say it was an upsetting scene. Neighbor Rick filed this report:

I’m saddened to write this, but our neighborhood witnessed a beating on the corner of Cortland and Bennington Sunday evening at about 5.30 pm.

A group of 4-5 men were in a shouting match that quickly escalated into a fight, which in turn became a beating as 2 of the assailants were kicking one of their downed opponents.

We don’t know what the argument was about (we were halfway up Bennington walking down, and although we could see the action, we couldn’t hear details) but it was a crowded evening and a ton of Bernal neighbors were witness to the encounter. What we did hear was gangster-like posturing, racial slurs, and some seriously antisocial behavior.

One brave neighbor placed herself in between the attackers and the unconscious, bleeding man on the ground. My brother in-law and I honestly believe that if she hadn’t intervened, the attackers would have continued kicking this man and we fear he may have lost his life. (The woman left before the police came because she had her young daughter with her. The poor girl was sitting in front of Progressive Grounds, scared and confused. The woman gave me her details to pass on to the police so she could share her information, but she rightly wanted to get her little girl out of there.)

The attackers fled the scene and unless the woman who placed herself in harm’s way to stop the fight has more details about them, I’m not sure the police had much information to go on. (Most of us were more concerned with the injured man and getting help than with identifying the assailants). The injured man had 2 people with him who seemed to do little to help their comrade and who slinked away once the police arrived. We did ask them who the downed man was and if they knew the guys who beat him, and they said very little but ultimately “no” was the response.

I abhor this sort of base violence and I’m still pretty creeped out by the whole thing. We’ve noticed an escalation in aggressive behavior in Bernal over the past few Sundays (people being accosted by rowdy teenagers sort of thing, even my wife got yelled at by a couple girls in a passing car for not wearing enough Niners gear) but this is by far the worst I’ve witnessed. A few of our neighbors stepped up and that’s great, but this scene has shaken me.

Bernalwood also received this from a nearby merchant:

There was what seems to have been a gang fight at the corner of Bennington and Cortland [Sunday] evening. It was pretty bad and made me think (among other things) that the beat cops are missed these days.

If it was indeed a gang fight, that would mean this incident was non-random. Bernalwood has not yet received any further information from the SFPD’s Ingleside Station. Neighbor Sarah, your vigilant SFPD liaison, has been making enquiries, so we will update you here if more detail becomes available.

In the meantime, an important reminder: Statistically, yes, we are entering crime season. As Bernalwood has previously reported (almost exactly two years ago): the end of Daylight Savings Time means less evening light, which often sparks an uptick in street crime, as goons and hoodlums seek to exploit the early onset of darkness.

Stuff happens. Please be extra-alert this time of year.

16 thoughts on “Witnessess Disturbed by Beating Incident on Cortland

  1. This is not that surprising. We over on Richland/Lees are contending with a serious infestation of drug/prostitution/robberies, centered around two houses – one on Richland, the other on Leese. We are working with the PD and have been filing complaints with the City Attorney to try and get a resolution. One of the more important ways we can all respond to these incidents is to get visible and vocal – we are spending more time out front, talking with our neighbors, being eyes and ears and making the neighborhood less viable as a mecca for thugishness. We all need to shout back, intervene, get involved. These sorts of behaviors occur where people think they can intimidate others without any pushback. And the more people who just stand there and watch instead of shouting and stepping in to stop these things, the more our community will appear easy pickings for thugs.

  2. It’s fantastic that the brave woman got between those groups fighting. Too bad the crowd of onlookers couldn’t be so brave. It amazes me that people are so comfortable gawking and yet are incapable of intervening or even being attentive enough to get a description of the attackers. I’m surprised no one whipped out their cell phone

    • No. Had I been there with my young daughter, the last thing I would have done is get in the middle of a bunch of men fighting! Call the police, yell stop, scream, whatever, but keep yourself and your children out of harm’s way.

  3. First, men fight. It’s instinctual. Males of other species fight each other to control territory and to control access to females. Chimps do it, cattle do it, dogs do it. It’s seldom a situation where one side is guilty and the other innocent. It’s usually two sides competing, but one side overpowers the other.

    Second, we live in a crowded society, living far closer together than we did in the wild. Because of this, our society needs to establish rules of behavior. One is that we discourage fighting. Another is that we take the natural instinct to fight and turn it into other endeavors such as football and baseball games, board games, and soap box derbies. One of the most successful businessmen in the world, Larry Ellison of Oracle, could have retired billions of dollars ago. Instead he believes in beating down his software competition and out-sailing his boating competition, even if it means cheating.

    Third, not all fights are bad. In the Brickhouse days (pre-Odeon, pre-Knockout), I’d see guys fight, sometimes roll around on the sidewalk, and later in the week see them walking down the street chatting with each other. I lived behind the place and more than once saw bloodied guys sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. But, they managed to survive another day. The capper was when I saw a victim and his assailant 2 or 3 days later walking down Mission, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders.

    I run a games group, SF Games, as you folks are well aware. Game theory is fascinating to me. One thing I’ve learned is that guys can play games roughly, that is, screwing each other over (but not cheating), and you’d think that feelings would be hurt. But no, it’s the sport, not a personal thing. Not to be sexist here, but a lot of women do not understand this about men. It’s not a personal thing.

    Now, I know nothing about the beating, but it probably came out okay. It was a beating, that is, with fists and whatnot. It was NOT a shooting. That’s an EXTREMELY important point, because if they REALLY wanted to cause harm, they would have shot the victim.

    I’m not condoning the beating; in a civilized society we must condemn these things. But it’s important to know what a fight really is.

  4. We saw it too. My husband called the emergency police number and we were on the phone reporting it as it was happening. Then a few of the guys (three to be exact) ran by us up Bocana towards Holly Park. We were with our two young kids and I was honestly scared of a shooting happening. We didn’t stick around for the police to get there but tried to do what we could. The guys who ran by us were saying “that’s what they get” and one guy might have stolen something from the guy they beat up. It was not a good scene and I just wanted to get my family home safely. The woman who intervened with her daughter is very brave. I’m not sure I could do the same thing!! I agree that we should be vocal and keep our eyes open but we also need to keep ourselves safe. I hope that guy was ok. I love Bernal and forget that we are still in a big city!

    • Thanks for calling the police. It’s important to give them as much of the who/what/where/when in hopes the information can be used to catch/convict the assaulters. Very helpful with the Cortland iPhone thefts charging.

    • To re-state something I’ve said before: SF is NOT Disneyland. It’s a rough town, and always has been, going back to the Gold Rush era when bartenders drugged sailors and sold them to ship captains as slave crew going to Shanghai. Bernal has long been a rough area. Fancy restaurants and trinket shops won’t change that any time soon.

      • David,
        You’re right. In Disneyland there is not 1 Starbucks or decent coffee shop. The java lord has blessed Bernal with many options!

  5. August 24, 2013 a similar incident happened at 26th St and Folsom, the man driving a tow truck was beaten and left bleeding on the ground by a group of young men (most likely gang or drug related but it was unclear). SFPD and an ambulance never showed up, we waited more than 45 minutes. The injured man – still bleeding drove away. Crowds of people in the neighborhood witnessed the incident and calls to 911 were made. It scares me just thinking about it, and how the city let’s certain areas of our neighborhood vulnerable.

  6. I’ve called the police and made numerous reports about my METH SMOKING neighbor’s on GATES ST near OGDEN and how they have fight and have sex and get high in their cars and have people all night come to their garage and how they leave drug bags and dirty condoms all over the street and they do NOTHING!!! i thought Bernal was a great place to raise my child I’m considering moving back to the marina after the POLICE DO NOTHING TO HELP THE LOCAL BERNAL PEOPLE ….

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