SUNSET ON A STREET SHEET
Word on the street is that people cleared the newspaper racks of that article and put a huge dent in SFWeekly's circulation. The entire Sunset, Haight St, Noe Valley, The Richmond district, Hayes Valley, hot spots Downtown and in North Beach, the Embarcadero, parts of the Mission, BART stations, the Financial District, Church St., The Castro and other places around town were cleared of that article. People were even grabbing the issue out of peoples hands. Now thats frightening! The issues were collected wednesday and thursday and then dispersed thursday night into recycling bins and garbage cans in Noe Valley, the Richmond and The Sunset where there was trash and recycling collection. In some cases as soon as the distributors put them in their stands, friends were close behind taking them out. People wanted to burn them at a bonfire but that wouldn't have been good for the environment so recycling them was the best alternative. Secretaries, receptionists and other white collar friends of ours are calling SFW advertising clients and letting them know that this week they wasted their monies running ads in that issue. People everywhere are talking about trashing that issue and clearing it off the streets. Our friends throughout town are being informed and asked to clear it from their neighborhoods. Lessley Andersen should have known the Sunset is one of the closest knit neighborhood in the city and we know people citywide. Operation Street Sheet went off without a hitch and sure took a gang of people to pull off!!! They might have had a internet audience, but their street audience was less then 20% of norm.
Why do I think it was in bad taste, sensationalized, exaggerated and classless? I'll touch on a few points...
Debbie read Lessley Anderson (the author) some of the personal letters written to her during the darkest days of our lives. We also let Lessley Anderson listen to the voice mail that was also personal only to get a sense of the sadness and to feel our pain. Lessley Anderson was asked not to quote it. Lessley Anderson never cared about how we felt and never showed any empathy. Lessley Anderson's tunnel vision was centered around trying to dig up as much dirt on Robert as Lessley Anderson could.
Debbie called me at 4am on July 12th, 2003, told me Robert was dead, asked me for advice, asked that I get Christina and inform my mother and step-father Dan. I went to the river to get Christina. Driving out River Rd. I noticed how beautiful and clear that morning was. As the sun rouse in the east I drove west thinking about Robert and the last time I saw him. I knew from the moment Debbie told me Robert was dead, that it was Sands. I also thought about how it might have went down.
When I got to the cabin at around 4:50am, I knew going up those stairs that it would be the hardest thing I ever had to do. As I crossed the porch I could see Dan notice me coming. When I walked into the room, Dan asked,"What's wrong Jimi"? I in a cracked voice said, "Robert was murdered this morning". Dan being a retired police lieutenant starting asking questions. My mother was at home and Dan called her to tell her the sad news. I not wanting to hear her reaction started downstairs to get Christina. I walked up to her bed as she slept. She immediately awoke and asked, "Who are you"? I said,"It's Jimi". She then said half asleep, "what do you want". I replied,"baby we have to go home, Robert went away". I didn't know how to tell her that her oldest brother who she loved so dear was dead". She asked,"what do you mean he went away". "He died this morning". Without saying a word she climbed out of bed, gathered her things and said, "uncle Jimi lets go". Jamie sleeping in the bed beside her got up and asked, "what's going on"? I explained how Robert was dead and that we had to go home". Jamie devastated fell on the bed, planted his face in the pillow and wept. Christina came with me and Jamie went with Dan to my mothers. We consoled her and then went across the street to church and said a prayer. The three of us then headed for the city. When Christina, Jamie and I got to Kathy Crowley's there was a huge crowd of people already there. I went upstairs and saw Michael, Bobby Gomez, Lerd, and Michael Hurley in Ryan's room. I asked, "what's the name of the piece of shit that had my guitar"? Hurley and one other said immediately,"It wasn't Phillip Sands". Now I knew the killers name. I just couldn't remember it at the moment. Time went by and we talked, spoke of Robert and mourned. I went outside to wait for Ryan to arrive from the night he spent in jail. He was obviously shaken. The last words from Robert were, "I'll be there in the morning to pick you up". Robert was always there for Ryan, Jamie, Christina, Michael and Jason. I looked up the street and could see JoJo had arrived and he was devastated saying over and over, "it's not right". That day was the hardest day of my life having to tell my neice Robert was dead, and to see how much hurt, pain and confusion this one senseless act caused so many. That day will also be forever etched in my memory as if it happened yesterday. Lessly mis informed people that Debbie didn't know of Robert being dead until the next day. Debbie might not have heard the message until the next day but surely knew her son was killed minutes after it happened.
Robert and his friends had their own identities. For twenty-five years and still counting, I hung out in the Sunset. I met a lot of great friends and associates, I am still friends with today. We as a whole had the time of our lives hanging out, experienced events, milestones in San Francisco sports history and even snuck into concerts, events and places enjoying ourselves all the way. Sometimes fights broke out and sometimes we did things people would frown on us for. We weren't however, thugs or trouble makers and difinately not hooligans.
I talked to Lessley Anderson about the neighborhood to clear the label "The Bros" which I surely never heard of. I also wanted to clear the bad name the police and others gave our neighborhood. As well as those over the years who tried to put things that happened on us that we never had any involvement in. Here is what I said but was not correctly quoted.
We were an entourage of people who were out to have a good time and we didn't intimidate people with our presence. We treated people with respect and when we were dis-respected we acted accordingly. What comes around goes around and never rat on your friends was what was instilled in us. We didn't wear gang colors and the only signs we used was the peace sign or in some cases the finger. We weren't always angels, but we weren't looking for trouble. When trouble found us we stuck together and went down together. If we were at either a sporting event, a party, concert or social event we where there to have a good time. If some booze talking fool tried to ruin our fun we usually ruined their evening. We were like a family and stuck together like brothers and sisters. We looked after each other like brothers and sisters and let anyone who wanted to have a good time into our circle. SDI was the name of a softball team from lakeside/the grove and we took the name. It stood for our neighborhood incorporated with all neighborhoods in the city. It was first to name all the cliques in the sunset. Parkside Park, West Sunset, The Grove, 46th Ave and Judah, 46th Ave and Taravel and Ninth and Judah. However we had friends city wide and changed it to incorporate all neighborhoods as one. For Lt. Murphy to in one sentence say, "I knew those guys...they had heart"! Then to call us drunk idiots? No Comment!!
To print the article on the anniversary was so insensitive. Debbie told Lessley Anderson in the beginning, "I would rather have you punch me in the face rather then write an article condemning my son". With a plastic smile, Lessley Anderson lied to her. When ever Debbie or I told Lessley Anderson how we felt or anything good about Robert. Nine out of ten times Lessley Anderson answered with, "could you tell me about this", or Lessley Anderson changed the subject. Lessley Anderson had tunnel vision and was out for herself, her story and slandering Robert.
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