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For the last couple of years in San Francisco, the beginning of December has been marked by a bloody tradition: the murder of Black men by San Francisco police. On Dec. 1, just one day before we were set to gather around the family of Mario Woods to remember his life on the two-year anniversary of his killing, the SFPD shot and killed another of Bayview Hunters Point’s own sons, Keita O’Neil aka Icky. The result of letting Icky’s murder go without response is that another one of us gets killed. They didn’t kill Icky because he was a hustler. They killed Icky because in San Francisco our Black and Brown lives are considered expendable.
We pour libations for Fats Domino, New Orleans musical legend, who died Oct. 24. He was 89. The Architect of Rock n’ Roll was the child of Haitian Kreyòl plantation workers and the grandson of an enslaved African. And we also pour libations for Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who made his transition Oct. 30. He was 80. Congratulations to Drs. Vera and Wade Nobles on their 50th wedding anniversary this month.
Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, marked the death of the 1,044th person that we know of killed by Tasers in North America, the most recent in Oakland after a man, Marcellus Toney, tried to flee a multi-vehicle accident. This unnecessary death reveals the primary reason why San Franciscans have consistently rejected Tasers for the SFPD. Yet on Nov. 3, the San Francisco Police Commission voted and approved a renewed proposal to arm the SFPD with these weapons. This begs the question: Who are the proponents of Tasers?
Iris Canada, a New Afrikan Queen and one of San Francisco’s few centenarians, has just been evicted from her home of over 60 years on the southern edge of the historic Fillmore district, now “Hayes Valley,” by Sheriff Vicki Hennessy. In a move that can only be construed as Machiavellian, the sheriffs arrived and changed the lock while Mrs. Canada was at her senior program! As of the date of writing it is unclear whether Mrs. Canada is even aware that said eviction occurred.
This country was stolen by hate-filled, manipulative wealth-hoarding colonizers like Trump who raped, abused and murdered first peoples of this land and bought, sold, raped and killed other humans for free labor. Trump is already here. He has been here for 525 years. So realize the work we are all doing is that much more serious now and we all need to stay strong and continue the badass organizing work we are already doing.
“Due to the multitude of lies and stereotypes that permeate our capitalist society about poor people and people of color, we all have collectively bought into the idea that we need to call 911 to be safe,” said Jeremy Miller, organizer and revolutionary family member of POOR Magazine and Idriss Stelley Foundation and co-organizer of the recent How to Not Call the Police EVER workshop.
“On the weekend before Super Bowl 50 in downtown San Francisco, Officer Joshua Cabillo aggressively put his hands on me. It was a peaceful protest and I sensed the hatred in his eyes,” says protester Deja Caldwell. Not only did Officer Cabillo unnecessarily assault a woman who was protesting police killing, but he is a killer cop himself! On June 5, 2012, as a South San Francisco police officer, Joshua Cabillo brutalized, restrained and eventually shot to death 15-year-old Derrick Gaines. Officer Cabillo is a child killer with a long record of abuse, yet SFPD hired him.
San Francisco is touted by conservative detractors and liberal boosters alike as the nation’s most progressive city. This is still true in many ways, even amidst towering symbols of gentrification. But, in particular, when it comes to holding police accountable for use of excessive force against communities of color, the City by the Bay is no different from the New Yorks, Chicagos, Baltimores or Fergusons of this country, where cops literally get away with murder. Think this is an exaggeration? Read on.
The broken windows model of policing uses code words like “disorder” and the metaphor of “broken windows,” focusing on the importance of “fixing,” aka policing, getting rid of, cleaning out broken windows as a way of “preventing” more “serious crime.” The poor, disabled and houseless scholars from POOR Magazine who have experienced the violence of this private policing launched the WeSearch Policy Group in 2013.
A collective of community folks organized with the family of Asa Benjamin Sullivan recently launched a people’s investigation into the killing of Asa by San Francisco police in 2006. Asa Sullivan was killed when SFPD responded to a “well-being check” at his residence then tracked him into an attic and shot him 17 times.* Police cannot be allowed to kill people and then claim that person was responsible for his own death and call it “suicide by cop.”
The community of people with disabilities has a different experience of brutality than the ablebodied community. There are of course many similarities. But disability adds another level of difficulty to it all. And being poor, homeless or Black or Brown with a disability makes many of us vulnerable from many additional angles. Disability is glazed over or not recorded in the official police reports.
Over 200 people gathered in the early morning hours today and shut down Valencia Street in front of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission District station. Sixteen activists locked themselves down for four hours and 15 minutes, blocking the gate to the parking lot and chaining themselves to large-scale art work in front of the station.
On Friday, Oct. 3, Antolin Marenco was dead, found “blue” and hanging in his cell in SF County Jail, an apparent suicide. I say apparent because evidence surrounding his death is still coming in and, as someone who was in regular contact with Antolin, I can say with certainty that if he took his own life, he was driven to this extreme act by over a year of sustained torture, brutality and neglect at the hands of the SFPD and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, citing California Penal Code Section 368, we, the evicted, gentrified, policed, elderly and disabled, walked into the Hall of Justice in San Francisco to bring criminal charges of elder abuse against landlords for the perpetration of the crime of Ellis Act evictions against frail, elder, disabled and traumatized residents of San Francisco.
Students Against Police Brutality, an SFSU student activist group, will be hosting a General Assembly for students to discuss the issue of Taser deployment on campus, on Thursday, Nov. 14, 6-8 p.m., at Malcolm X Plaza, SFSU main campus. “I don’t understand how introducing another weapon is going to diminish violent crimes on this campus,” asks one student. Official figures show violence is low and declining.
There was an ocean of signs in a sea of banners of struggle and liberation in front of Anaheim’s City Hall and the adjacent park on July 21, 2013. The signs held faces of those cut down in the prime of their lives in loving memory and detail. There were informational signs and signs with slogans of liberation, with demands, statements of fact and advice – such as “Fuck the system” and “FTP” (“Fuck the police”).
Ask any San Franciscans of a certain age about Golden Gate Park, and they will wax on about the days when every museum in the park was free and they could spend a day visiting all of them. Over the years, while still receiving public subsidies, every institution has been privatized and the entry fees raised to ludicrous levels. The latest being the semi-privatized Conservatory of Flowers.
San Franciscans working from 2004 to 2013 to keep tasers out of SFPD officers’ hands as they “talk down” people in public crisis are today celebrating SFPD Chief Greg Suhr’s Wednesday, April 10, decision to drop his “less lethal” taser proposal for San Francisco cops. Idriss Stelley Foundation Program Director Jeremy Miller affirmed: “The Police Commission should be commended for engaging this issue seriously in a manner that befits their political responsibility. Tasers torture and kill. They are unaccountable weapons for unaccountable officers. But it was the people of San Francisco who forced Suhr’s hand.”
Police Chief Greg Suhr and the SF Police Commission finally scheduled and held the required community forums, where Suhr and Comdrs. Richard Corriea and Mikail Ali described the Electronic Control Weapon (ECW) proposal and invited community input. This updated story includes a report on the Tenderloin community forum, organized by residents. All testimony was anti-taser.
A Dec. 4, 2012, ACLU letter to SF Mayor Ed Lee urged rejecting any SFPD proposal “to deploy tasers or other conductive energy devices”. The letter emphasizes that costly tasers would generate heavy legal fees from officer overuse and abuse, posing serious injury and death risks, especially to SFPD’s targeted populations: people in public mental health crisis and people of color.
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