On December 5, 2016 I listened to comedian W. Kamau Bell, Artist and Activist Favianna Rodriguez, SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and Campaign Zero Co Founder DeRay McKesson discuss “Equal Justice Post-Obama,” at City Arts and Lectures.
Among many other great insights, Jeff Adachi asked the people of San Francisco to step up and hold our Police Department accountable since under the Trump administration, the US Department of Justice will no longer pressure it to change. Favianna Rodriguez said white people in particular need to hold police accountable since police work to protect white people, while harming and harassing people of color. DeRay McKesson spoke about how important it is to show up and tell the truth, whether at a protest, family gatherings, or before public officials, and once we have a seat at the table, to hold the door open for others to follow.
The sold out largely white audience wanted to know what, specifically, they could do, a question that is coming up a lot these days.
Here are 12 ways you can show up for racial justice and police accountability in San Francisco in the next 7 days:
1) Right now: Educate yourself about the racist culture of the San Francisco Police Department and all expert recommendations to change it. Watch Judge LaDoris Cordell explain SFPD’s history and culture to the Board of Supervisors.
Read the San Francisco Grand Jury Report on Officer Involved Shootings, the Blue Ribbon Panel Report on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement, and the US Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Report on San Francisco Police Department. Read about the roles local, state, and federal public officials play in holding police accountable.
Don’t stop there: educate yourself about police and justice reform more broadly. Watch 13th, a documentary on the evolution of slavery to mass incarceration. Watch Killing Them Safely, a documentary on the danger of Tasers. Read The New Jim Crow and its accompanying Organizer Guide.
2) Contact Mayor Lee and demand that he immediately appoint a qualified external candidate as the next Chief of SFPD.
On May 19, 2016, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr resigned due to community pressure after the 18th fatal officer involved shootings on his watch. Mayor Ed Lee appointed Toney Chaplin Interim Chief while the SF Police Commission conducted a search.
Interim Chief Chaplin has applied for the Chief role. He believes that the San Francisco Police Department does not have a culture problem, and was endorsed by the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the union of SFPD officers.
On November 2, 2016 the SF Police Commission sent Mayor Lee three candidates it recommends to be Chief. Mayor Lee has yet to make a decision, although he committed in October to implementing all 272 recommendations of the US Department of Justice to change SFPD.
Interim Chief Chaplin’s entire policing experience is within the SFPD. There is no way he can be the change agent SFPD so desperately needs because he has not run a modern accountable police department. The fact that the POA has endorsed Interim Chief Chaplin further signals that he is the wrong leader. Meanwhile without a permanent leader in place, the changes recommended by many experts are beginning to gather dust on a shelf.
Contact Mayor Ed Lee and demand he immediately select an external Chief with experience running a modern, accountable police department and no allegiance to the SF Police Officers Association.
Telephone: (415) 554-6141 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mayoredlee
3) Demand San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón Charge Killer SFPD Officers with Murder. Community Meeting, Tuesday December 6, 6 pm, SEIU 350 Rhode Island. In 2015, San Francisco ranked 10th nationally among major US cities in fatal per capita officer involved shootings. No SFPD officer has ever been charged with murder or convicted. District Attorney George Gascón currently has 11 open investigations of fatal SFPD officer involved shootings dating back to September 2014 where he has yet to determine whether to charge officers with a crime, including Amilcar Perez Lopez (shot 6 times in the back by plainclothes officers); Mario Woods (shot 22 times by 11 officers); Luis Gongora Pat (shot within 22 seconds of SFPD arrival while laying on the ground) and Jessica Nelson Williams (shot while in a stuck car).
On Tuesday December 6, 2016 DA Gascón is meeting with the community to explain why he has not charged SFPD officers, organized by Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community-Justice for Mario Woods. Show up and demand justice for Mario and all victims of SFPD brutality. https://www.facebook.com/Wealth-and-Disparities-in-the-Black-Community-Justice-4-Mario-Woods-1597022747260594/
Can’t make the meeting? Call, email, tweet District Attorney George Gascón- and show up to protest at his office on Fridays between 12 and 2 (see number 6). Call (415) 553-1751 e-mail email@example.com tweet @georgegascon
4) Stand Up to the San Francisco Police Officers Association and Demand the SF Police Commission Ban Shooting in Cars and Implement a New Use of Force Policy. Police Commission Meeting, Wednesday December 7, 5:30 pm, City Hall Room 408. Since SFPD executed Mario Woods on December 2, 2015, the SF Police Commission, the civilian oversight, policy-setting, and disciplinary body of SFPD, has been under pressure to update its Use of Force policy, last issued in 1995. On June 22, 2016 the Police Commission unanimously adopted a new policy, which then went into a meet and confer process with the San Francisco Police Association, the officers union. The POA is insisting on shooting in cars, although it is nationally recognized as a dangerous practice, and the negotiations are now in impasse.
Having a clear, strong policy requiring use of minimal force is critical because it guides officers and the Police Commission can discipline officers who violate it. Not having a clear policy leads to lack of accountability.
Show up and demand that the Use of Force policy be implemented by Department General Order immediately so that officers know what to do and can be held accountable. Can’t make the meeting? Call 1-415-837-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet: @sfpdcommission
5) Demand that the SF Board of Supervisors Replace Victor Hwang with an Equally Progressive Voice on the Police Commission. Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, Monday December 12, 11:30 am, City Hall
Victor Hwang, one of the three Board of Supervisors-nominated Police Commissioners and two progressives on the San Francisco Police Commission (the other is Petra de Jesus), won his election to judge and has resigned. It is imperative that his seat be filled by someone equally progressive and representative of San Francisco values. On December 12 at 11:30 am, the Rules Committee will meet to vet candidates and select one to recommend to the Police Commission. Demand that Bill Ong Hing or John Hamasaki fill the seat. Can’t make the meeting? Contact the Rules Committee members:
Supervisor Katy Tang (415) 554-7460 Katy.Tang@sfgov.org @supervisortang
Supervisor Malia Cohen (415) 554-7670 Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org @maliacohen
Supervisor Eric Mar (415) 554-7410 Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org @ericmar415
#MotherAgainstPoliceTerror @GeorgeGascon office today 12pm #ProsecuteOrElse on #MarioWoods 1 year anniversary of his murder @J4LGP @RawwG pic.twitter.com/RC10gGZ3Uj — Justice4MarioWoods (@Justice4MWNow) December 2, 2016
6) Demand District Attorney George Gascón Charge Killer SFPD Officers with Murder. Mothers on the March/Justice for Mario Woods Protest, Friday December 9, 12pm-2pm, SF Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant. Every Friday, the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition, including family members of SFPD victims, protests District Attorney George Gascón for not indicting killer SFPD officers. Join us and demand killer police be prosecuted criminally. Can’t make the protest? Call (415) 553-1751 e-mail email@example.com tweet @georgegascon
Follow @Justice4MWNow and come to our meetings Thursday evenings.
7) Unite with Citizens Demanding SFPD Accountability. San Franciscans for Police Accountability is a citizen group that educates and mobilizes the broad San Francisco public for transformational culture change of San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) through interaction and advocacy with public officials. Our Vision is to transform SFPD from a Warrior culture to a Guardian culture. Contact David Carlos Salaverry for information: firstname.lastname@example.org
8) Open Mic Tribunal for Justice in San Francisco. SF Justice Alliance, Saturday December 10, 12-3 at UN Plaza, 7th and Market. Many of the anti police brutality activists are collaborating to produce this event.
9) Protest the Normalization of Hate. This is Not Normal: Anti Trump March in San Francisco, Saturday December 10 2- 6 pm. Meet at Justin Herman Plaza at 2 pm and march along Market Street to Civic Center for a rally.
10) Unite with White People Who Demand Racial Justice. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) San Francisco Meeting, Monday December 12, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm, Alley Cat Books 3036 24th Street. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. The San Francisco SURJ chapter meets every second Monday of the month. www.facebook.com/sfsurj
11) Support Alex Nieto’s Parents in Demanding the City of San Francisco Create a Permanent Memorial to their Son. Public Comment in support of Alex Nieto memorial at the Board of Supervisors Weekly Meeting, City Hall, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, approximately 5 pm. On March 21, 2014, SFPD officers shot at Alex Nieto 59 times, with 14 bullets piercing his body. No officers were charged criminally and a civil grand jury did not find SFPD to have used excessive force. On December 13, 2016 the SF Board of Supervisors will vote on an ordinance to establish a permanent memorial to Alex Nieto on the site of his SFPD execution on Bernal Hill, at the request of Alex’s parents. Come to the Board of Supervisors meeting and voice your support.
12) Join the Injustice Boycott. On December 5, 2016 a national group of activists led by New York Daily News justice columnist Shaun King launched the Injustice Boycott in three communities: Standing Rock, San Francisco, and New York City. The Injustice Boycott is giving those cities, the businesses and corporations that call those cities home, the states they are in, and the federal government, 43 days, that’s until King Day of 2017, to meet the reasonable and humane demands of local activists in those cities or face an economic boycott. Learn more and get involved at http://www.injusticeboycott.com/
Karen Fleshman is a Racial Equity Trainer and Government Accountability Advocate
My mission is to build and support a community of people committed to love, learning, accountability, and action on race in America. I offer talks and workshops at companies, universities, nonprofits, and government agencies and blog on Huffington Post and Medium. I am a member of the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition, co-founder of San Franciscans for Police Accountability and often testify to the San Francisco Police Commission and Board of Supervisors. www.karenfleshman.com @fleshmankaren