Locksmiths Dispatched for San Francisco’s Hero’s Hall of Fame Museum

Who among us has not felt the hope in humanity rise a little higher, after hearing of, or witnessing the heroic deeds of ordinary people?

Our elected leaders bestow the highest civilian honor, the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” or the “Congressional Gold Medal”, for deserving individuals.

Creating a one of a kind hall of fame museum, dedicated to the heroes of the world, is an honor long overdue. But bringing such a unique museum to fruition in San Francisco will only happen when a heroic effort against The City’s racism happens first. The result will lead to the changing of the locks on the doors of the new $1.4 billion Chase Center basketball arena.

January 15, 2009, pilot and crew went into action saving all 155 aboard an Airbus A320–214, forced to land in the Hudson River off Manhattan. A snapshot of some of aviation’s biggest heroics throughout the world is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

June 23, 2018, twelve boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach went on an adventure to a Thailand cave. Due to monsoon rains, they became trapped and forced back several miles inside a cave for ten days before a rescue crew located them.

It took another three days of incredible heroics, including pumping out millions of gallons of water and the use of an anesthesiologist, to sedate the boys, before bringing all out of the cave alive. This massive effort did suffer the loss of one of the Thai Navy Seals. But the entire rescue story deserves, against all odds, type of hero recognition in a museum exhibit.

There are 198 countries in the world and no shortage of heroes in each country. But despite the best efforts to share these truly inspirational stories with the world, too many of these stories will fade into history and forgotten forever.

I read of one such forgotten story of heroics by happenstance. And though I was inspired by the story, it opened my eyes to what is wrong with society.

On September 22, 1975, Oliver Sipple, an ex-marine and disabled Vietnam War veteran was walking down a San Francisco street. He came upon a crowd of people standing outside the Union Square St. Francis Hotel. President Gerald R. Ford was about to exit the building. Sipple positioned himself better to get a glimpse of the president. Then noticed a woman pull a revolver out of her purse and aim at President Ford.

He yelled, “The bitch has a gun” and lunged for her arm. He wrestled her to the ground and Secret Service quickly pounced on Sipple and would-be assassin, Sarah Jane Moore.

The news traveled fast. Sipple’s parents were beaming with pride when they heard their son was credited with saving the life of the President of the United States. But pride turned into shame 24 hours later, for his parents.

Oliver Sipple had a friend who was struggling to be San Francisco first openly gay elected official. This friend thought by using Sipple’s heroics, it might help his own political career. So, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that his hero friend was also a homosexual and convinced the newspaper that it should report that a homosexual saved the life of the president, which The City’s main local newspaper did.

Sipple’s Baptist parents did not know of their son’s sexuality and reading it in the news was too much for them to handle. So, they stopped speaking to their son; the hero, simply because he was also a homosexual.

Sipple did receive a thank you note from President Ford, for which he was proud to have received and share with friends. But oddly, San Francisco City Hall was too ashamed to honor the hero who happened to be gay.

Oliver Sipple suffered greatly from the betrayal of a friend when that friend used his heroics for political gain. The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper invaded a hero’s privacy by being first to publish Oliver’s sexuality, against his will. Oliver was never honored by San Francisco City Hall. And worst of all, being disowned by his parents. Sipple unsuccessfully sued The Chronicle for an invasion of privacy and died in 1989 alone.

Oliver W. Sipple Hall of Heroes Museum

I am a firm believer in capitalism. I also believe owners of professional sports teams should be allowed to go wherever they can to make the most on their investment. However, I draw the line when billions of dollars are not enough to move a team.

These owners know they can use elected officials as a willing accomplice to get what they want, and the losing communities end up feeling as though their heart and soul have been stolen or broken. Many refer to this as “Business.” But I see something far more devious.

San Francisco has a $10 billion a year tourism industry. Oakland has an $800 million dollar a year tourism industry. So, why does San Francisco City Hall need to use tools of covetousness, deception, corruption, White privilege, and racism to take from our neighboring Black Oakland community? In other words, “You don’t have to blow out someone else’s candle so that yours shines brighter.”

The NBA show no tolerance for Donald Sterling’s racist comments. League owners unanimously voted to force him to sell his team. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, deemed the State of North Carolina laws against members of the transgender community to be discriminatory. And when that state’s legislature refused to change its law in question, the NBA took its 2017 NBA All-Star game out of the state.

So, why would the NBA turn a blind eye to what the owners of the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco City Hall were doing to a Black Oakland community? Adding insult to injury, the ownership of the Golden State Warriors are trying to stiff Oakland for $40 million in Oracle Arena debt as they abandon the Oakland community, they claim to still support. This is not an act of turning a blind eye. This is the reprehensible act of marginalization of an entire Black community, which needs to be strongly condemned in any community.

San Francisco has been historically racist towards its Black communities. And though The City now has a Black woman, London Breed, as mayor, only a naive newcomer to San Francisco would use that as a reason to overlook at the failed plot by White privilege to prevent this Black woman from holding The City’s highest office.

Mayor Breed’s predecessor, the late Mayor Ed Lee, who was once a civil rights attorney, acted with a spirit of covetousness as well as his self-serving advisers to help the owners of the Golden State Warriors relocate from their current Oracle arena home of 47 years; in a Black Oakland community. The move appears to be an extension of The City’s disregard for its own Black communities.

As reported, San Francisco has no shortage of billionaires. The latest tally revealed: The City and Bay Area has 75 billionaires. So, there is no real reason to panic about the cost to build Chase Center or the fact, the arena has already sold more than $2 billion in tickets before the venue has opened for business.

If the NBA or its players investigated San Francisco racism and determined The City unfit to be home to an NBA franchise, only corporate egos should feel the sting from learning how not to treat loyal sports fans of Oakland.

The most beautiful thing that I have noticed about heroes: it appears, God has already dispatched them to where they will be needed. And though the Hero’s hall of fame museum is nearly complete, we only need hero locksmiths (those opposed to racism) to change the locks.

1983 to 1993 Bible Study teacher at SF juvenile hall. Currently prison reform activist and author of Case Game - Activating the Activist; an autobiography.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store