Girlfriend's dad was a psychiatrist who worked with the homeless. One of his clients made the papers by taking Matthew 18:8 literally: And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. So since he couldn't stop masturbating, he took a machete to his right arm. Here's another one of his clients:
That's the end of an 11 hour standoff.
Now - if Tony Allison decided to swing a katana on Pike in a post-911 world, I'm not sure he'd have walked away with bruises. I'm also fully aware that his odds of living though it would be better if he were white.
Having spent a fair amount of time downtown amongst the homeless, this looks a lot to me like the way the cops take down someone they've judged to be dangerous and mentally incapacitated. They're trying to restrain him. Then he kicks. Then they restrain him some more. Then they ask the crowd to step back. Then at 1:49 they say "I think we're okay, we might wanna call a 408" - California radio code for "send an ambulance." Throughout, you can see one officer talking to the homeless man, three officers restraining him, and a goodly number performing crowd control. You can also hearing the cops asking the poor dude to relax several times.
Thing of it is, if the SFPD brought the poor dude in for mental health issues, they couldn't say a thing about it. Patients' rights. I don't see any of the cops there who look at all mad (or even at all happy to participate). This looks to me like the regrettable human sideshow you get whenever the cops have to haul someone in because they think they're jeopardizing the health of themselves or others.
Not saying that's the only interpretation. However, there are motivations other than "racism" that lead to regrettable displays like this.