San Francisco Supervisors must vigorously support justice in policing

In all the hideous police murders in recent years, no other police department deployed like this in a semi-circle, their target a confused young man holding a small knife backed against a wall, as they shouldered their guns to execute him, firing squad style. Only in San Francisco

by Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community

We want to bring attention to the history of the lack of support from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (BOS) over the years toward justice for Black San Franciscans, particularly when it comes to policing.

Inconsistent support from the Board of Supervisors for justice in policing

For four years, Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community has urged the Board of Supervisors to perform its oversight role in holding the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) accountable to previously mandated policing reforms, with no material action from the BOS. 

In 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) review was conducted in San Francisco, after numerous high profile police killings in 2016 and prior, including that of Mario Woods. The City and County of San Francisco formally committed to ensuring all of the DOJ COPS’ 94 recommendations and 272 findings be addressed. The members of the BOS must fulfill their responsibility to San Francisco by demanding regular hearings on DOJ COPS, evaluating SFPD’s performance and reporting out to the community.

More recently, we have urged the Board of Supervisors to support Mayor London Breed’s and Supervisor Shamann Walton’s proposal for funds being reallocated from the City’s police budget toward the Black community, which has suffered for years at the hands of police. This proposal is a historic first in San Francisco. 

Racial disparities dangerously persist in law enforcement

By SFPD’s own numbers, terrible racial disparities in policing toward Black people continue unabated. From 2016 to the present, the SFPD continues to arrest Black people at rates 10 times that of white people, and uses force on Black people at rates over 12 times as high as on white people. 

Black people are more than five times as likely as “Hispanic” (SFPD’s term) people to be subject to use of force or arrest. These incredible rates of disparity have remained the same since the SFPD first started measuring and releasing this data in 2016. 

Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s failure to support Black lives

Supervisor Ronen has not responded to our communications over the years regarding SFPD’s racially disparate, racist policing. At the last BOS hearing (Committee of the Whole) on DOJ COPS, called by Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer in October 2019, Supervisor Ronen was in attendance but left the room repeatedly and was clearly not paying attention as we explained the issues and the pain of Black San Franciscans.

. . . it is essential that all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors pledge their cooperation with Mayor London Breed with regard to the allocation of funds to the Black community.

We were extremely disappointed to hear Supervisor Ronen’s recent negative and divisive remarks during the Aug. 15, 2020, SF Black Residents Candidates Forum, disparaging the mayor, who happens to be Black. Supervisor Ronen expressed her feelings toward Supervisor Walton, saying she is “100 percent” supportive of him and has “the complete opposite relationship” with him that she has with Mayor Breed. 

There is no good reason for Supervisor Ronen to have talked publicly about her personal feelings toward City leaders, praising one and disparaging the other. Mayor Breed and Supervisor Walton have partnered on the new budget reallocation together.

She further stated in the same forum that police injustice in San Francisco is “almost as bad for Latinx folks” as for Black people. That is untrue – as explained in the above cited statistics – and it’s a fact she would know if she had read the past four years’ quarterly SFPD reports on policing by race, or if she had even read our letters to her regarding this matter. 

Support demanded for Black lives from Board of Supervisors, including Supervisor Ronen

We write this letter in part to publicly disapprove of Supervisor Ronen’s divisive and disparaging remarks. And we are publicly questioning why now she is proclaiming support of justice and equity in policing for Black San Franciscans when she has been unwilling to act on this in all these years. Is it because now it is “on trend” to support Black Lives? Or is it because the majority of San Franciscans support such measures, thereby giving her more votes for reelection? 

At this crucial time, it is essential that all 11 members of the Board of Supervisors pledge their cooperation with Mayor London Breed with regard to the allocation of funds to the Black community – and NOT to entities who have failed to serve the Black community for many years. Agencies such as the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Department of Children Youth and Their Families, Department of Public Health, Human Services Agency and others have a history of promising but not delivering when it comes to the Black community. 

This must be a new moment of real change and true accountability. In fact, rather than these entities getting any money from the City for support of Black San Franciscans, we feel it is incumbent upon these entities to reallocate a significant portion of their own budgets toward directly benefiting Black San Franciscans. 

In this moment of Black Lives Matter, the BOS, including Supervisor Ronen, must support Mayor Breed’s and Supervisor Walton’s plan and must publicly support all funds – $120 million or more – being allocated solely to the Black San Francisco community directly, as per above. They must also fulfill their role in overseeing the DOJ COPS process of policing reform. 

We need their immediate response and urge Bay View readers to demand the same from the supervisor representing their district, a list of which can be found here, https://sfbos.org/.

Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community Core Team and Phelicia Jones, MCP, founder, can be reached at mwjusticenow@gmail.com