SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco Rec and Park employee posted video on social media of a weekend encounter with an unmasked woman who approached with scissors in hand while going on a racist tirade.
The employee who was targeted with the abuse, a San Franciscan named Andrés Patino was doing outreach work with the San Francisco Rec and Park Department’s Love Dolores campaign when a woman approached who was not wearing face covering as mandated by city and state health orders.
The woman was holding a pair of scissors and, according to Patino, using them to cut down the signs blocking the playground in the park from public use due to the pandemic.
Patino decided to follow her and record video.
“She put on some yellow gloves, carrying some scissors. And ended up going towards the park and I was like, ‘Okay, that never looks good,'” Patino said.
“This is an unconstitutional, unlawful taking of public property,” the woman said, walking towards Patino who admonished her not to approach closely with the scissors.
“I’m not chasing you, you sheep!” she yelled after Patino backed away from her.
She continued her tirade: “Go to the hospital and tell them to put you on a ventilator. They’ll kill you with a ventilator like they’re doing.”
She then returned to berating Patino about closing the playground, using a mispronounced, mistranslated racial slur.
“Don’t you dare shut this park! We pay for this park. You don’t get to take our property. We pay for it! You little migres (sic)! Go back to wherever the hell you came from and stop trying to steal the property we paid for!” the woman yelled.
“My first reaction I think is like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe you’re saying this. I can’t believe this is happening to me right now.’ Not here, not in San Francisco. Not in my backyard. I live a block away,” Patino said.
Patino was born in Colombia but has lived in the U.S. since childhood.
“You’re like spewing this hateful energy. In that moment, it kind of shook me. Because SF is home. ‘Is this actually happening here? Like, do I belong here?’ For a second it brought that questioning,” Patino said.
Seconds later, her tone became much measured when a uniformed park police officer came on the scene and told her she couldn’t remove the signs from the park.
The woman offers to hand over the signs she cut down, but the ranger then tells her to leave the park.
“Please remove your scissors and yourself from the park,” the officer says before the woman simply says “OK” and the clip ends.
The San Francisco Rec and Park Department issued a response to the incident, condemning the woman’s “racist, xenophobic abuse” and vandalism at the park. It noted that Patino is a colleague known and respected for his work as an outreach coordinator at the park.
“The video is especially painful to watch because Andrés works to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome in Dolores Park,” the Rec and Park response read.
The response noted that there were also COVID information signs removed from the park’s southside bathroom area. Officials said the woman was escorted from Dolores Park and that the incident is under investigation.
Patino used Facebook to release some of the emotion he restrained himself from showing during the confrontation.
“Working at the time, I felt like I needed to reel back my response to her hateful rant,” Patino’s Facbook post read. “However, for my own sake (even if this never reaches her), I want to let her and the other racist Karens in SF know that regardless of what they say, this is my home. Your bigotry is neither needed, wanted, or accepted here.”
Patino called San Francisco a “uniquely beautiful city” that while “not perfect by any means…has felt like a safe haven…where I’m accepted for who I am and my differences appreciated + celebrated.”
“I hope no one else has to be hurt by this person, especially another minority person who may already be struggling and living in fear with the current state of our country,” Patino wrote. “I fear that this woman may continue to harass other people, unless she’s confronted publicly and shamed for it…so just keep your eyes out for her.”
The statement from San Francisco Rec and Park echoed that sentiment.
“Hate simply has no home in Dolores Park or San Francisco,” the statement read. “Our parks must be spaces where we are all equal and equally welcome; places where we can invest in mental and physical health and respect our neighbor’s fundamental instinct to do the same.”