Mayor Ed Lee: Fire Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr now!

by Sylvia Rorem

The people of San Francisco are outraged by the ongoing misconduct and mismanagement of the San Francisco Police Department by Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr. His history of breaking the laws he is sworn to uphold, along with his consistent refusal to discipline officers for their brutality and crimes against residents, has created a crisis in the city.

SFPD-Chief-Suhr-reacts-to-Black-Brown-Social-Club-hunger-strike-for-his-firing-outside-Mission-Stn-042116-300x164, Mayor Ed Lee: Fire Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr now!, Local News & Views
A very tense Chief Suhr responds to press questions about another spate of racist text messages his officers exchanged. The pressure on Suhr has ballooned since a hunger strike began outside the Mission Station led by rapper Equipto and other members of the Black & Brown Social Club.

Since becoming chief in 2011, Suhr’s mismanagement has led to dozens of brutality and corruption lawsuits, many of which are kept away from the media in order to deflect public criticism. Because of his unwillingness to comply with internal Police Department policy, regulations, and state and federal law, the department is now under multiple city and federal investigations and is being excoriated by the national and international press.

Chief Suhr’s lies and misconduct have resulted in several national scandals of such magnitude that San Francisco is now being compared to Ferguson. Your name regularly appears in this negative media attention. We will accept no more. It is time for Suhr to go.

Recently, eight violent officer-involved shootings, all justified by Suhr to the press and public long before investigations were complete, made 2015 the bloodiest year in SFPD history. San Francisco has become one of the top 10 of the 100 worst U.S. cities for per-capita police killings.

The brutal, senseless April 2016 killing of homeless immigrant Luis Gongora Pat and your cruel public response by clearing homeless residents out of San Francisco points toward an ugly future San Francisco controlled by a violent, racist, rogue police force. Local and national backlash against the SFPD’s reckless disregard for due process and constitutional rights of the people, especially Black and Brown San Franciscans, has grown to politically and socially dangerous proportions.

The people of San Francisco are outraged by the ongoing misconduct and mismanagement of the San Francisco Police Department by Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr.

It was precisely Chief Suhr’s criminal misconduct that brought activists to your humiliating inauguration. The wave of discontent is swelling. The current hunger strike outside Mission Police Station demanding that either Suhr be fired or you step down is another serious setback for your career.

Hunger-Strike-for-firing-of-Chief-Suhr-0416-by-Black-Brown-Social-Club-flier, Mayor Ed Lee: Fire Police Chief Gregory P. Suhr now!, Local News & Views
Click to enlarge

If you do not take the politically expedient and morally correct position and fire Chief Suhr now, you will continue to face angry residents who demand justice for San Francisco, and you will be remembered in the history books as the failure who fiddled while his city burned.

Highlights of Gregory P. Suhr’s career

1997: MARK GARCIA KILLING: Garcia dies while restrained by Mission officers under Lt. Suhr. SF Office of Citizen Complaints upholds Garcia family complaint, finds misconduct and attempts to reform SFPD misconduct policies. SFPD chief refuses the findings; no officer is disciplined; Suhr is promoted to captain.

2002 MLK DAY MISCONDUCT: SF Police Commission pursues misconduct charges against five Bayview officers under Capt. Suhr. Two girls, 12 and 14 years old, win “improper search” civil rights lawsuit against two officers who groped them; 14-year-old boy who tried to protect them receives 11 stitches and a dislocated shoulder. Revealing the role of police in gentrification, the officer in charge told the horrified parents watching the assault, held at gunpoint to prevent their intervention, “As long as you people are here, we will do this.”

2003 FAJITAGATE: Suhr is indicted for conspiring to obstruct the investigation of three off-duty cops who assaulted a man over a bag of fajitas. The indictment is eventually thrown out of court and he walks free.

2005 DEMOTION 1: Suhr, then heading the Patrol Division, is demoted to guarding the city’s water supply for mishandling a protest.

2009 DEMOTION 2: Capt. Suhr is again demoted after failing to file a female acquaintance’s domestic violence report.

04/2011 APPOINTED CHIEF: Mayor Lee selects Suhr as chief of the San Francisco Police Department.

07/2011 KENNETH HARDING KILLING: Multiple witnesses state SFPD shot Harding, 19, in the back as he fled a Muni fare evasion accusation. Suhr announced to the press that Harding shot himself. Video shows SFPD watching Harding die on the pavement. In 2012, Harding’s mother sues the city and Suhr for denying medical care to her son, and a settlement is reached.

05/2013 $725,000 LAWSUIT: Suhr is sued by an SFPD lawyer for firing her after she recommended firing him for skirting the law. The lawsuit was settled in March 2015; SF spends almost $1.5 million defending Suhr.

11/2013 OFF-DUTY OFFICER VICTIM OF SFPD RACIAL PROFILING: Officer Lorenzo Adamson sues the city and Chief Suhr for racial profiling and being put into a carotid chokehold by three officers during a traffic stop. A settlement was reached.

2014 DRUG LAB SCANDAL: Thousands of criminal cases are jeopardized by drug skimming in the City Crime Lab; a whistleblower says Suhr was aware of it for years.

01/2014 OFFICER ON TRIAL FOR CHILD MOLESTATION: Richard Hastings, who received a Medal of Valor for shooting Kenneth Harding, is arrested and charged with repeatedly molesting a 15-year-old boy.

03/2014 ALEX NIETO KILLING: The killing of off-duty security guard Alex Nieto by SFPD under extremely dubious circumstances draws local and national outrage.

01/2015 PUBLIC DEFENDER ARRESTED: A deputy public defender is arrested after objecting to officers questioning and taking photos of her client outside the courtroom. One of the arresting officers had been sued by Lorenzo Adamson in 2013 for racial profiling.

02/2015 AMILCAR PEREZ LOPEZ KILLING: Suhr lies to the press and public that Perez charged officers with a knife before being fatally shot. A witness statement and an autopsy report show that Perez was shot in the back multiple times.

03/2015 TEXTGATE SCANDAL 1: Fourteen SPFD officers are found to have exchanged violent, blatantly racist text messages that include implicit permission to kill Blacks. Thousands more criminal cases are jeopardized by the grave misconduct of a deeply racist police force. Suhr announces he will fire all involved but does not. In December 2015, a judge rules that seven officers cannot be punished because Suhr allowed the statute of limitations on discipline to expire. To date, no officer has been disciplined for his texts.

04/2015 RACIST DRUG STING SCANDAL: Officers involved in a Tenderloin drug sting operation arrest only Blacks while surveillance video shows other races selling drugs to them. Sgt. Shaughn Ryan, accused in a federal court of racist behavior, death threats and sexual harassment during this operation, was never removed from active duty and the outcome of his internal investigation has never been reported.

06/2015 RAPEKIT SCANDAL: Suhr declines to request a grant to test the backlog of rape kits. After public outcry against him, he reverses his position.

06/2015 CONVICTED EX-SFPD OFFICER TRAINS NEW RECRUITS: Arshad Razzak, sentenced in federal court to four years in prison for conspiracy against civil rights, deprivation of rights under the color of law, and falsification of records, is given a one-year sentence postponement to allow him to develop training material for the SFPD.

12/2015 OFF DUTY COP’S FELONY HIT & RUN: Castro “Hot Cop” Christopher Kors charged with two felonies after nearly killing two in a hit and run. He turned himself in only after any sobriety test results would be impacted by the delay.

12/2015 MARIO WOODS KILLED: Mario Woods is shot and killed by multiple SFPD officers in broad daylight, in front of children. Video of his killing goes viral, causing national and international outrage. Suhr justifies the killing before the investigation is concluded by claiming that Woods raised a knife toward an officer, which video enhancement disproves.

12/2015 D.A. INVESTIGATES SFPD RACISM: District Attorney George Gascon initiates a Blue Ribbon Panel investigation on bias within the SFPD.

01/2016 D.A. INVESTIGATION OBSTRUCTED: Gascon announces to the press that Chief Suhr and the SFPD are actively obstructing the Blue Ribbon Panel investigation.

02/2016 ACLU REQUESTS FEDERAL INVESTIGATION; REFORM PACKAGE ANNOUNCED: The ACLU requests a federal inquiry into the SPFD by the Department of Justice. In response to public pressure, Mayor Lee invites the Department of Justice to begin an investigation into the policies, practices and accountability of the SFPD and announces a reform package for the SFPD that includes revision to the 1995 use-of-force policy, additional bean bag weapons, shields for defense against edged weapons, and an attempt to ignore the rejection of tasers by San Francisco citizens and re-introduce them into the SFPD arsenal. Shields were not used in the April 2016 killing of Luis Gongora, allegedly armed with a kitchen knife. To date, the use-of-force policy has not been revised.

03/2016 POST- NIETO TRIAL OFFICER’S PUBLIC COMMENT: An all-white jury in federal court finds the four killers of Alex Nieto not guilty of using excessive force. That same evening, defendant Officer Roger Morse threatens and/or taunts the loved ones of Alex Nieto on a public Facebook post. While the same kind of misconduct has resulted in the firing of dozens of officers around the country, Suhr has refused to comment on or apologize for Morse’s egregious behavior, which is still “under investigation.”

03/2016 TEXTGATE 2: District Attorney Gascon announces that a second round of racist and homophobic texts occurring during the first texting scandal and involving at least three more SFPD officers is found within a case file on the sexual misconduct of yet another officer.

04/04/2016 PUBLIC DEFENDER REQUESTS STATE CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION: Adachi requests California Attorney General Kamala Harris to open a civil rights pattern-and-practice investigation into the SFPD.

04/07/ 2016 LUIS GONGORA KILLING: Homeless immigrant Luis Gongora is shot and killed within 16 seconds of contact with police. Eight witnesses and security video footage contradict Suhr’s public claim that Spanish language commands were issued and that Gongora lunged at the officers.

04/08/2016 RACIAL DISPARITY REPORT RELEASED: The SF Examiner releases a report showing enormous racial disparity in the SFPD’s routine traffic stops and searches.

04/09/2016 GONGORA CAMPSITE VANDALIZED BY SFPD: At 11:35 p.m., in the rain, six officers raid the homeless encampment where Luis Gongora lived, harass and threaten the witnesses to the shooting, slash tents, seize belongings and kick over the candles at the altar to Luis’s life.

04/11/2016 SFPD OFFICER WANTS CHANGE IN COMMAND: An anonymous officer tells the press that bigotry, cronyism and corruption is rampant in SFPD, and that a change in leadership is needed.

04/13/2016 MULTIPLE SF POLITICIANS SPEAK OUT AGAINST CHIEF SUHR: A press conference outside of City Hall includes members of the Board of Supervisors, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and District Attorney Gascon, almost all of whom publicly speak out against Chief Suhr and the SFPD. Supervisor David Campos tells Chief Suhr at the SFPD Town Hall that his office was not notified of the event.

Chief Suhr’s record is filled with severe misconduct, blatant disregard for due process and constitutional rights, and routine lies to the press and public. No wonder the San Francisco Police Department is now being described nationwide, and worldwide, as a bigoted, violent police force.

Yet Chief Suhr is the highest paid police chief in the nation, earning more annually than you, the governor of California and even the vice president of the United States. San Francisco taxpayers no longer agree to bear this heavy burden.

Chief Suhr’s record is filled with severe misconduct, blatant disregard for due process and constitutional rights, and routine lies to the press and public. No wonder the San Francisco Police Department is now being described nationwide, and worldwide, as a bigoted, violent police force.

It is at great public expense that Chief Suhr has brought shame and scandal to our beautiful city – and to your own office. Allowing Suhr to remain employed has, thus far, resulted in a direct loss to your credibility and approval ratings as mayor.

We demand that you immediately fire Chief Suhr, without the option of resignation and pension, or that you yourself either resign your position as mayor of San Francisco or be recalled by the people.

Career highlight sources

Sylvia Rorem is a member of the Malcolm X Day organizing committee and a contributor to