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When Chief William Scott had been on the job for just a few weeks, he came to the Joseph Lee Gym in Bayview Hunters Point for a townhall meeting with the community March 9. This first-ever community meeting with the new chief was presented by Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario Woods. Chief Scott said his goal is to “reduce deaths at the hands of police” and asked to be held accountable. Will Chief Scott be a better chief for San Francisco than his predecessor? We don’t know. But we do know that we will, as Scott said, hold him accountable.
As police murders accumulate, and police chiefs get fired and replaced because they cannot stop it – as in Oakland and San Francisco – the notion that this represents a political crisis becomes a truism. It is not a “crisis of policing,” which would suggest a situation beyond the capacities of the police. It is the police who have become the crisis.
As union members gathered in the nation’s capital over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, some of the country’s top labor leaders faced tough questions about how the movement can reconcile its support for racial justice with its embrace of police unions. Over the last year, the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of unions, has faced calls from some in its membership to end its affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations.
In the wake of the brutal police execution of Mario Woods by San Francisco police in Bayview Hunters Point, many are asking where is California state Attorney General Kamala Harris? She was elected with the hope and expectation, naive as it may be, that she of all people would be out there weighing in and demanding justice for Mario. Sadly Harris has thus far been pretty much absent from the fight.