Paneen Kosarian was grabbed outside of her San Francisco condo on the morning of August 12. Her attacker, a young homeless man, told her he was trying to save her life and asked her “to open the door so that he could go and kill our concierge, or front desk lady, and earn my trust,” Kosarian said. She quickly realized that the man was not in his right mind and quite unstable. Together with the concierge, Kosarian fought off the man.
However, when he appeared in court for charges of attempted robbery, false imprisonment, and misdemeanor battery, the judge let him go without bail or monitoring, pending trial. Kosarian tried to use her social media platform to press for reversal on the judge’s decision or at least the order of an ankle monitor but to no avail.
And after her attacker’s photo was released by the authorities, other women came forward and identified him as an attempted attacker elsewhere in the city.
While the situation is by far not the worst that has happened within the city in recent months or even weeks, it calls attention to an ever-rising problem that it seems no one is willing to address.
The city is being overrun by the “homelessness crisis,” as it is politely referred to. But there is nothing polite about it. While the homeless may be labeled as victims themselves, there is no denying the vast amount of mental illnesses and drug addictions that run rampant among them.
Methamphetamines and amphetamines are by far the most commonly used drugs in the city, and they cause nearly half of all psychiatric emergencies. So it isn’t any wonder that 80% of all calls to the police are related to mental health.
Yet, mental health services are disabled and overrun. Patients who are considered to be a danger to either themselves or others are typically only able to be held in psychiatric hospitals for up to 72 hours.
Local law enforcement, stretched far too thin, cannot handle the onslaught of calls. And when suspects are arrested, the local judicial branch, such as Kosarian’s judge, don’t do anything and neither do elected officials.
According to Police records in 2018, less than 5% of those who were arrested for the sale of hard drugs were ever forced to serve time. In most cases, charges were never brought up, dropped, or ended in probation. And so the drugs continue to run the city and cause even more widespread mental issues.
The homelessness and mental health crisis have been going on in San Francisco since the 1980s, and yet in all those years, no one has been able to offer any sort of solution.
And the ones who pay the price most often are women and children, which is ironic for the city that boasts of its female traditions. After all, this is the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the acclaimed Dianne Feinstein, and employs well-known feminist Mayor London Breed.
These women, who have been some of the loudest voices in the MeToo and feminist movements should have a tremendous amount of influence over their city, as well as how women are treated. And yet they don’t. We find them mute.
So San Francisco finds its women “very vulnerable, helpless, and really scared,” as one city resident says. She and many others talk about the fear of leaving their homes, especially at night, but even in the light of day. Moms have to walk their kids to school every day for fear that sending them on any form of public transportation will not get them there safely.
And these just aren’t weak-minded or frail individuals either. These are fighters like Kosarian or Martha who is 60 years old but can hold her own. They take self-defense classes, are alert, and workout. However, they are women with typically smaller statures and lower muscle tone than their male counterparts.
If the causes of catcalls and date rape can be adopted by women’s movements, shouldn’t violent assault by a stranger comes into the picture somewhere? What about a mother merely trying to get her kids to school in the morning who has to sidestep drug sales on the sidewalk, and dig through the sandbox at the park to get out any syringes? Shouldn’t these issues be addressed?
Or are the fine Democratic leaders of the city too distracted by helping out illegal immigrants and climate change?