Community in Crisis

San Francisco shopkeeper speaks out after being bitten twice by homeless people

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The teeth marks and bruises on the 67-year-old’s arm would have been worse had he not been wearing long sleeves.

He says it happened as he tried to subdue a man who’d allegedly pushed his sister who’d come out behind the register at Harvest Urban Market to eject the homeless man for the second time that day.

“Everyone said she was being attacked, so the employees went to help her and we subdued him because we wanted to call the police. And I was holding onto him and he twisted his head and he bit my arm, you can transmit diseases this way and there was no reason for it. So I try to put him under citizens arrest and I told him I was going to keep him here until the police arrived and he said the police not gonna do anything anyway they’re not gonna do anything they’re just gonna let me go why are you even bothering,” Gilles Desaulniers said. 

Police arrested 29-year-old Adam Aschebrock for aggravated assault and battery.

Shopkeeper Gilles Desaulniers says he was bitten while trying to stop a shoplifter back in June.  

Surveillance video shows a clerk running after a shoplifter who Desaulniers says pepper-sprayed his employee.

She was arrested not long after police arrived.  

He says he’s found people selling and doing drugs inside his restrooms often.

“About every half hour to hour, we have some kind of incident other theft violence crazy people walking around people who need mental health there should be facilities where people can do drugs there’s needles everywhere people have threatened me with a needle,” Desaulniers said. 

He worries about the safety of the people who work in his market.

“I feel bad for employees who are being accosted by people who are drugged out, who don’t make any sense, who don’t know what they’re doing in the store, we have no idea why they’re in here, they forget why they’re in here, and you have to kindly, kind of take care of the situation and remove them from the business so nothing happens and that’s a difficult process the police are equipped to do that but we don’t have any tools to help us deal with that,” Desaulniers said.

He feels that the passage of State Proposition 47, which declassified nonviolent offenses, like drug possession and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, has added to the problems in the city.

“People feel more emboldened, they know there’s no consequence and the merchant of the business person has to take steps to stop these people from coming in so you have to go file some sort of stay away order which is work fill out forms and it happens so frequently that’s a full-time job in itself,” Desaulniers said.

He has taken pictures of encampments near his business and says his back door will soon need to be replaced because it’s rusted out after being urinated on so many times.

“They create a lot of garbage. There is feces on the sidewalk, they’ll piss on the back door. It smells it’s a public health nuisance. The Public Health Department wants us to keep everything nice but when you walk outside the door it’s like to plague all over again it’s really really really really bad,” Desaulniers said.

This is not the first time that Desaulniers has had problems with homelessness that ended up negatively affecting his business.

Last year, he closed his Market Street location after 28 years in business because of similar problems.

He lives around the corner on Minna Street and says the neighborhood has really gone downhill in recent years with drug abuse on the streets.

“I’ve been on Minna street since 1983, there was times where I could sit on the sidewalk on Sunday morning and read the Sunday paper and drink coffee. the idea of doing that today is reprehensible, you just can’t do it. There’s just people everywhere doing things they shouldn’t be doing and people challenge you,” Desaulniers said.

It’s his belief that much of what’s driving this is an addiction.

He supports the idea of having safe injection sites, an idea Mayor Breed has tried to launch but has so far been unable because of federal legal barriers that would put operators at risk.

“There should be a facility where they can go and do drugs and they’re under supervision and they can get help and they can feel like there’s a place to go instead of some of these people out on the street, there’s needles, they’re shooting up in their armpits, they’re shooting up in their legs, their pants are down, they have dogs, they have tents, there’s just so many problems it just can’t be fixed in a simple solution. It’s just getting worse and worse and I am a business owner of the resident who pays taxes I don’t feel like my voice has been heard,” Desaulniers said.

He’s now not only considering closing his South of Market location but moving away from the place that’s been his home for over 40 years.

“It might remind me of New York in the 70s, how bad it got and they finally cleaned it up and now San Francisco is going through his version of that. You know I’ve lived here and I’m considering moving and leaving the city completely and the bad part is the people who are creative who contribute positive things to the city via small business or whatever we’re just gonna leave and so everybody suffers,” Desaulniers said.

Mayor Breed’s Deputy Communications Director responded saying:

“Everyone deserves to feel safe where they live and work, and the status quo on some of our streets is unacceptable. Our homeless outreach teams and our street medicine teams are out every day trying to connect people to services and shelter so they can get the help they need. But the reality is there are people who are sometimes unwilling or unable to decide to accept help, which is why the Mayor pushed to expand our conservatorship laws so that they don’t continue to deteriorate on the street. We’re also reforming our mental health system to help the 4,000 people who are homeless and have behavioral health issues while prioritizing those who are in crisis, so that we can stop the cycle of people entering our hospitals and jails only to return to the street.”

Andy Lynch, Deputy Communication Director

He goes on to say that, the Mayor has also increased police foot patrols throughout the City so that there is a more visible police presence.

COMMUNITY IN CRISIS:

    Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Tracking COVID-19 in the Bay Area

    Trending Stories

    Latest News

    More News