Asians 4 Black Lives: #WakeUpEdLee, fire Chief Suhr and Mario Woods’ killer cops

Asians4Black Lives set an elegant table Asian style outside Mayor Ed Lee’s home at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, Jan. 17, during the Martin Luther King weekend and asked the mayor to come out, sit down with them and pledge to meet the demands they listed in their “Serve the People Menu,” which reads: “1. Terminate Chief Suhr. 2. Terminate the officers involved in the murders of Mario Woods, Amilcar Lopez and Alex Nieto. 3. Reallocate city budgets to affordable housing for Black and Brown people.” – Photo: Asians4BlackLives
Asians4Black Lives set an elegant table Asian style outside Mayor Ed Lee’s home at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, Jan. 17, during the Martin Luther King weekend and asked the mayor to come out, sit down with them and pledge to meet the demands they listed in their “Serve the People Menu,” which reads: “1. Terminate Chief Suhr. 2. Terminate the officers involved in the murders of Mario Woods, Amilcar Lopez and Alex Nieto. 3. Reallocate city budgets to affordable housing for Black and Brown people.” – Photo: Asians4BlackLives

by Alvina Wong and Marie Choi, Asians4BlackLives

San Francisco – Asians4BlackLives, a Bay Area group of Asian community organizers, held a community intervention in front of Ed Lee’s house to demand that he stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement. At 6 a.m., activists woke the mayor with drums and gongs. Five activists chained themselves to a table in front of his house, calling on him to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s radical legacy by coming to the table to join them in standing with Black Lives Matter, by terminating Police Chief Suhr and all officers involved in the murders of Mario Woods, Amilcar Lopez and Alex Nieto.

Asians4BlackLives built a beautiful altar to Black and Brown victims of SFPD. – Photo: Asians4BlackLives
Asians4BlackLives built a beautiful altar to Black and Brown victims of SFPD. – Photo: Asians4BlackLives

“From gentrification to police terrorism, there is a war on Black lives happening in SF and across the nation,” said Jasmin Hoo, Asians4BlackLives activist and SF resident. “As Asian Americans, we refuse to be complicit in the violence that Lee’s decisions have committed against our Black siblings. We are ashamed that the first Asian American mayor of SF is acting as a general in this war.”

“From gentrification to police terrorism, there is a war on Black lives happening in SF and across the nation. As Asian Americans, we refuse to be complicit in the violence that Lee’s decisions have committed against our Black siblings. We are ashamed that the first Asian American mayor of SF is acting as a general in this war.”

Following the violent shooting of Mario Woods, a 26-year-old Black man, Lee said, “Anytime there is an officer involved shooting, I take that extremely seriously, and so does our chief. I’ve seen the video too and you know, you look at that video and you just, before my words came out, we’re all yelling drop the damn knife.” A subsequent analysis of the shooting video by KQED shows that officers shot and killed Woods before he made any threatening movements.

Rather than respond to the community’s needs, Lee has stood by the police, voicing his support of Chief Suhr and proposing reforms – such as purchasing stun guns and holding cultural competency trainings for officers – that activists say do not adequately address the issue. The SF Police Department has long faced criticisms for racism, from a lawsuit alleging racial bias and excessive force in the arrest of a Black resident to the exposure of racist text messages exchanged between officers on duty.

“Piecemeal reforms – while the officers responsible for these unjust killings are still on payroll – are steps in the wrong direction. We are here today to demand Lee demonstrate that Black Lives Matter by acting on the community’s demands,” said Simmy Makhijani, Asians4BlackLives member and longtime SF resident. “As mayor of SF, it is Lee’s job to serve his constituents and ensure the safety of all SF communities by holding the police force accountable.”

Non-Black people of color have been bold and active allies of the Black Lives Matter Movement for over a year, first prominently involved on Dec. 15, 2014, in Shutdown OPD, when Asians4BlackLives chained themselves to one of the Oakland Police headquarters entrances for hours. Spreading these alliances nationwide will vastly enhance the chances for winning real justice. – Photo: Asians4BlackLives
Non-Black people of color have been bold and active allies of the Black Lives Matter Movement for over a year, first prominently involved on Dec. 15, 2014, in Shutdown OPD, when Asians4BlackLives chained themselves to one of the Oakland Police headquarters entrances for hours. Spreading these alliances nationwide will vastly enhance the chances for winning real justice. – Photo: Asians4BlackLives

Since Lee’s election, the city has seen rent and evictions double, alongside racial and economic inequality, diminishing the city’s Black population to 3 percent.

“Ed Lee’s work as a civil rights lawyer, serving low-income communities of color, launched his political career. However, in his first term as mayor, he has turned his back on his constituents,” said Mabel Tsang of Asians4BlackLives. “We are here today to remind Lee of his history of activism. We invite him to join the people once again by terminating Chief Suhr and working towards a city that is equitable and livable for all.”

“Ed Lee’s work as a civil rights lawyer, serving low-income communities of color, launched his political career. We are here today to remind Lee of his history of activism.”

Asians4BlackLives echoes the demands of the Anti-Police Terrorism Project (APTP):

  • The immediate termination of Chief Greg Suhr
  • The immediate termination of the officers involved in the murders of Mario Woods, Amilcar Lopez and Alex Nieto
  • The immediate reallocation of city budgets: Reduce police budgets and reallocate those funds to provide for affordable housing that allows Black, Brown and other people of color to remain in SF.

Alvina Wong and Marie Choi can be reached at asians4blacklives@gmail.com.