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SF police execute again: Community and labor speak out on Mario Woods’ murder

December 6, 2015

by Steve Zeltzer, Labor Video Project

The San Francisco NAACP is calling a public meeting to discuss the police murder of Mario Woods for Monday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., at Third Baptist Church, 1399 McAllister St., San Francisco

San Francisco police murdered another African American in Bayview Hunters Point on Dec. 2, 2015. Seven to 10 police surrounded Mario Woods, 26, and then shot him over 10 times, killing him.

Minister Christopher Muhammad speaks truth to power at the meeting convened by SFPD Chief Suhr two days after his officers formed a firing squad to murder Mario Woods. The Alex Pitcher Community Room, where the meeting was held, named after the legendary NAACP president, is a venue the community fought to build and control and that they’ve used to fight many battles against corrupt officials and policies – and even won some. – Screenshot: Labor Video Project

Minister Christopher Muhammad speaks truth to power at the meeting convened by SFPD Chief Suhr two days after his officers formed a firing squad to murder Mario Woods. The Alex Pitcher Community Room, where the meeting was held, named after the legendary NAACP president, is a venue the community fought to build and control and that they’ve used to fight many battles against corrupt officials and policies – and even won some. – Screenshot: Labor Video Project

Community and labor people spoke out at a meeting on Friday, Dec. 4, convened in the Southeast City College Campus’ Alex Pitcher Community Room by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr in an attempt to stifle further protest. The community used the meeting to speak out against the epidemic of police killings of African Americans and also the corruption of Chief Suhr, who people demanded be fired.

Several labor leaders spoke, including the inspirational Clarence Thomas of the ILWU, the longshore workers union. He told of San Francisco’s landmark 1934 General Strike, which brought Blacks into full ILWU membership but cost the labor movement two union members murdered by SFPD.

That sacrifice is commemorated annually, as was the more recent police murder of Oscar Grant, by port shutdowns that bring commerce nearly to a halt, Thomas said. Picking up on his implication that it could happen again, the audience of several hundred began to chant: “Shut it down!”

The community used the meeting to speak out against the epidemic of police killings of African Americans and also the corruption of Chief Suhr, who people demanded be fired.

When community leader Minister Christopher Muhammad spoke near the end of the tense, three-hour meeting, he summarized much of the passionate testimony that preceded his. Tension was fueled by the presence of some residents and others who appeared to support the police, though few of them spoke. Several speakers criticized District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sat silently in the front row.

“This young brother was executed by firing squad!” declared Minister Christopher. “Mario Woods did nothing to deserve what happened to him on Third Street, nothing,” which means, he continued, that the police chief “must either resign or be fired.”

“I talked to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan a couple of hours ago. He is angry as hell. He wanted me to tell the community that what was done was not just murder; it was a hate crime!”

Responding to the chief’s assurance that all officers involved in the hate crime against Mario Woods have been placed on administrative leave, Minister Christopher observed that for police, “The quickest way to get a vacation is to shoot a Brother. These officers must be charged with murder. MURDER!”

“This young brother was executed by firing squad!” declared Minister Christopher. “Mario Woods did nothing to deserve what happened to him on Third Street, nothing,” which means, he continued, that the police chief “must either resign or be fired.”

Turning to look directly at Chief Suhr, Minister Christopher told him: “It would be the right thing, Chief Suhr, as a man of renown, that you say: ‘You know, I can see that I am a polarizing figure here. In order to get some healing in this community, I’m going to step down. Man, you don’t have to fire me; I’m going to step down.’ See, that’s the right thing to do.”

“But to throw up a smokescreen that this little brother was a gang injunction list member. What the hell is a gang injunction? These are people that target you and put you on a list. When they want to gentrify the community, they put all the brothers on a list to wipe the community out.

“I want to say this last thing: Black lives don’t matter in San Francisco. They poison the hell out of this community and get away with it. They kill our people, move our people out and appear to get away with it.

“Brother Mario Woods, though he’s a painful sacrifice, Mario Woods, like Jesus, is a sacrifice for a bigger cause, even bigger than what he knew himself. But if we don’t stand up and organize, then his death will have been in vain, and we’ll be waiting on the next Mario Woods.”

Steve Zeltzer and the Labor Video Project can be reached at lvpsf@igc.org. Bay View staff contributed to this story.

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