Embattled San Francisco authorities, still baffled in their attempts to solve a series of Chinatown gang murders, today offered one hundred of the taxpayers' dollars as a reward for identification of the masked gunmen who killed five people and wounded 11 others in the Golden Dragon restaurant earlier this month.
The reward, the highest permitted by California law, was a frank attempt to appeal to the greed of gang members after attempts to shame the Chinese-American community into providing information had failed. Earlier, San Francisco Mayor George R. Moscome had offered a $25,000 reward.
"These gang members have no principles," Moscone said. "Maybe 25 grand wasn't enough for them to run the risk of providing information but 100 grand is a lot of money. I truly believe we're going to solve these crimes."
Solved or not, the continual gang warfare here has advertised the interracial difficulties of San Francisco and its police department.
San Francisco, a city of 700,000 people with half of them members of racial minorities, has long celebrated its reputation for liberalism and interracial amity. But this veneer of tolerance seemed to fall away quickly after the Golden Dragon killings Sept. 4.
In the wake of this shooting, where the targets were rival gang members but the victims were bystanders, Police Chief Charles Gain inferentially blamed Chinese-Americans for failing to provide information to the police about extortion and violence. Gain referred to "subcultures of fear" and said there seemed to be a conspiracy of silence and a lack of witnesses in Chinatown.
This statement infuriated Chinese-American leaders, particularly since two armed off-duty policemen were in the Golden Dragon when the shootings occurred. Both policemen ducked under nearby tables and were uninjured.
But witnesses are still hard to find when a murder occurs in Chinatown, as police found out again last Sunday when three robbers invaded a highstakes mah-jong game in Chinatown. One man resisted and was shot dead but police have found it difficult to get identification of the holdup men from he 20 witnesses who were present.
In one sense, it is ironic that Gain finds himself criticized for purportedly racist remarks. Ever since Moscone appointed him chief last year, Gain has been trying to broaden the composition of a 1,700-member police force, which is mostly white. Moscone, an avowed Democratic liberal, prides himself on the fact that more than half of his appointments as mayor have been to members of minorities.
The commitment of Moscone and Gain to affirmative action programs was one of the reasons many policemen backed Moscone's opponent in an August special election aimed at recalling the mayor. The effort failed.
Nonetheless, a group of minority officers, most of them black; saying racism deeply permeates the department, this week asked the FBI to investigate what they said were efforts of white officers to intimidate them.
Among the incidents cited by the group, Officers for Justice, were insulting racist posters being placed on police station bulletin boards on Sept. 2, and a dead skunk being placed inside a car parked in a locked police lot after the owner of the car, a black officer, was appointed by court order to the temporary rank of sergeant.