Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Vandals deface gay florist's business


Guy Clark surveys the racist graffiti outside his flower shop Monday. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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A gay African American florist arrived at his shop Monday, January 22, to find "KKK" painted on his Duboce Triangle storefront, and "fuck you" painted on the sidewalk. The police have labeled the incident a hate crime.

Additionally, the vandals poured paint on a tree, near bushes, and on the driveway at Guy's Flowers at Noe and 15th streets.

Neighbors determined that the crime happened some time between 10 p.m. Sunday night and 9 a.m. Monday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We received a call yesterday after lunch and responded within 30 minutes," said Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, which responds immediately to gang or hate graffiti, she said.

Workers first photographed the scene, sent the photos to the police department, and cleaned it up.

Guy Clark operates his store from a residential garage, and like many flower stands, his merchandise is displayed on the street.

People who Clark most often tangles with, he said, are owners of dogs who pee or poop on his flower planters. His business is on the route to Duboce Park, which is popular with dogs. He said one of them was most likely the suspect.

"I could see a dog owner getting very offended, a minority telling them to curb your dog," said Clark, adding has been called the N-word by dog owners in the past, and has gone so far as to knock on a careless dog owner's door threatening police action.

"Ninety percent of dog owners are very conscientious," said Clark, who uses a hose and leaf blower to wash down the sidewalk daily.

"I get people who will pick poop up and throw it at the garage door," said Clark, 58. "They feel insulted that a minority is telling them about etiquette."

Some passersby apparently are not aware that the shop is a legitimate business, and consider the permanent planters public property.

"They tell me all the time, 'why don't you get yourself a job,'" said Clark. "It's very degrading."

On Monday morning Clark's neighbors called him early to notify him of the vandalism. By Tuesday, he had received calls from the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union.

One brazen dog owner complained of Clark's curb-your-dog requests to officers taking the police report Monday, he said.

"He was so offended the police supported me," said Clark, whose father is a retired Baltimore police sergeant.

"Mind your own business," Clark said one dog owner told him when he spoke up a week ago when her dog relieved itself on the sidewalk bench. That was followed moments later by a climbing toddler, Clark said.

"The mother was horrified," said Clark. "The child's dog-urine covered clothes. She was furious."

Guy's Flowers was voted best flower shop by the two city weekly newspapers last year for Clark's low prices and lack of hard selling.

Neighbors were supportive of Clark.

"I know that's a hot button for him," said David Troup, secretary of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, of the dog waste issue, adding that the group was pleased the city cleaned up the paint promptly.

"You've got people who don't even realize the business has been there for many years," Troup said.

"I've known Guy since I was born," said Ashley Weeg, 23. "I was horrified."

Dog owners also weighed in.

"To me, it's all about being aware of and considerate of people, not just dogs, everything in an urban environment," said Sally Stephens, chair of the San Francisco Dog Owners Group.

Curbing one's dog is safest on streets without much traffic said Stephens, whose female dog curbs herself. "When a dog's got to go you have to find a place for it to go," said Stephens.

At least one other gay African American businessman said he has not encountered racist language.

"There are always racist people or ignorant people in the world," said home furnishings merchant Kenneth Wingard, who has lived in the Castro 19 years. He said that he has not personally encountered the N-word in the neighborhood. "The best you can do is ignore them."

After 25 years tending flowers on the charming leafy street and sometimes being visited by tour busses, Clark sees the daily cycle of people in the neighborhood – moms and kids in the morning, seniors at noon, and commuters after work.

"They just sit there to be in the ambiance of the flower man," he said.

The DPW encourages anyone finding hate graffiti to call (415) 28CLEAN.

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