Violence breaks out in the streets of San Francisco, setting social media outlets aflame with activity


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It might not be getting a lot of late-night attention by the major TV or online news organizations, but the mayhem surrounding the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victory is burning up Twitter, Facebook, Twitpic and Flickr. It even has a mayor on Foursquare.

And it has two Twitter hashtags. #SFRiots and #SFRiot dominated Twitter soon after Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to end Game 5 on Monday night in Arlington, Texas, with reports of looting in the Mission, mattresses on fire on Haight, and crowds of iPhone-wielding revelers blocking traffic on Market.


‘Nothing on,,, or about the #SFRiot. However, it is on Twitter and Foursquare, and it has a mayor,’ complained David Lowe via Twitter just after 1 a.m.

At that point the so-called riots had already produced almost a dozen YouTube videos from the streets of San Francisco, the SFPD police radio channel was being broadcast for anyone to hear via UStream (which also had a Twitter hashtag, #sfscanner), and a Google Map called Project Epic had sprung up from the University of Colorado at Boulder based on tweets and Twitpics throughout the City by the Bay.

For many it may have been the first time they had ever followed police activity via a scanner. But soon after the faceless voices of the men and women in blue reported what they were trying to deal with, the kids on Twitter repeated the descriptions. ‘He’s got no shirt on him. his blue jeans pants are hanging down, has a plastic samurai sword and a half a mind on him,’ tweeted Melissa Gal, repeating the description given by the officer on the scanner about a gentleman outside Golden Gate Park just before 2 a.m.

‘Did I just hear, ‘Suspect armed with Chardonnay’?’ ‘ asked Mark Marten via Twitter at 11 p.m.

Tech website Mashable had one of the first reports up online, just before midnight. In only two hours blogger Jolie O’Dell’s post had been retweeted more than 1,400 times, mostly because the activity wasn’t being seen on TV or available in many traditional news websites like or San Francisco’s own

One major local news source was active. At midnight, Oakland’s KTVU posted a short news item on its website reporting a few incidents. ‘Around 10 p.m., a crowd that had taken over the intersection of 3rd and King streets had started multiple fires, but those were extinguished soon afterward,’ the station reported on its website. ‘An hour later, at the intersection of Mission and 22nd streets that had been taken over by dozens of fans, a large fire had been started. Later, a car attempted to drive through the crowd and was stopped, and the vehicle and its passengers were attacked.’


But the most interesting trend was people virtually claiming to be rioting via Foursquare. ‘People actually ARE checking into SF riots on Foursquare,’ Casey Kelly tweeted in disbelief, showing a screenshot of his iPhone app displaying more than 50 people had affirmed that they were rioting around four different locations in San Francisco.

‘I just earned the ‘Burn Baby Burn’ badge on @Foursquare! (@Ghirardelli’s Union Square) #SFRiots,’ joked Lance Patterson via Twitter.

To quote Kelly: ‘oh the internets.’

-- Tony Pierce