Greetings charged-up readers!
I’m headed to the Thursday, May 12th press conference scheduled by the “Frisco 5.” It’s hot on the heels of a May 9th all day demonstration targeting City Hall which I attended—detailed in this series’ opening blog.
The press set-up is at San Francisco’s Mission District Police Station, the site of the “5’s” desperation hunger strike.
The “5” vows it will go all the way—pushing to get both Chief Suhr’s & Mayor Lee’s resignations—& fighting to get SF’s controversial police shootings into the national spotlight.
DA Gascon’s Blue Ribbon Judge Panel did release their preliminary findings Monday night (following the City Hall demonstration) which the conference plans to lay-out. Huge weight could be added to what these strikers fight for.
I’m rushing to get there! Unfortunately I’d not yet checked the online “justice advocacy” pages—true to form the morning news gave under an hour’s notice.
I really must remedy that!
A substantial crowd stands out a block away—media folks prominently aiming their “utensils”; vans cluster nearby with glistening antennae piercing the sun filled sky. Every major local network seems to have joined a bevy of independent journalists—and activists.
CNN though (boasting that its elite journalism stays locked on critical “national issues”) is nowhere seen!
Police officers also are prominent, bunched about with a casually alert air—less menacing than at City Hall, but situated to show solid presence. I’m thinking the event definitely has begun, when a question surprises me from behind:
“Are you headed to the press gathering?”
“Yes,” I say to the young white women inquiring.
Her acknowledgement was capped with a salute: “here’s to the ‘Frisco 5!’”
“Yes, the ‘Frisco 5!’” I say.
How marvelous! Encounters with so many unfamiliar, but concerned & fired-up folks (actually responding to these “calls”) shows an exciting tapestry of humanity still simmers in the wings—new connections truly bring a highlight to actually bothering to attend.
But hold your horses!!! Stop the presses!!! Breaking news grabs Bay Area locals!!!
As I retrace the press scene in this writing a shocking turn of events slams the wire: an adamantly dug-in and resistant Mayor Lee actually requested Chief Suhr’s resignation, stirring-up the afternoon of May 18th—a once defiant Suhr obliged.
This though, did not come out of the blue. It rocks on the heels of what everyone expected. Yet another cop involved killing of a civilian.
That morning an officer shot & killed a 27-year-old Black woman in the Bayview. Apparently two police got after her in an alleged stolen car. It’s said she crashed into a truck, but while gunning the car back & forth attempting to escape one officer opened fire.
Here’s what makes it so damning: she was not only unarmed, but the car apparently was actually wedged, making it impossible to drive off (or use the vehicle as a “weapon”). It appears the cop shot her point blank.
In his press conference that afternoon Lee said in essence the incident took things over the top, forcing his reverse decision.
Getting back to recap the “5’s” May 12th gathering—in light of the DA’s panel report—four of the strikers had indicated they’d all continue their campaign (one was still hospitalized). As expected the report did deliver potent ammo—it was exceptionally damning.
Here’s the gist: SFPD has outdated policies; engages in the controversial “stop & frisk” tactics; poorly tracks officers’ conducts; Blacks & Latinos are stopped & searched disproportionately; it neither collects nor shares data on officers’ use of force—& this just to begin with!
So, what is the SF Police Officers Union’s take on this?
Martin Halloran, the rigorously hostile Union head, called the report an “illegitimate work of fiction” pushed by Gascon’s war with the police. Halloran, staunchly resisting any reforms, is even accused of intimidating SF Supervisors regarding their decisions. He justifies police shootings in every case (regardless of video evidence); also rationalizing & trivializing the racist/homophobic texts that surfaced (even though that 2nd batch, just as appalling, appeared in a totally separate case).
Slamming that Officers’ Union one attorney Ray Marshall (assisting the panel) says in essence the department is not “independent enough” of them; he says lines are blurred & the Union’s clear influence beyond SFPD’s domain impedes “dialogue.”
Wait!!! Hold your horses again!!!
Crashing in on June 1st a Grand Jury report simply blisters! The police Crime Lab, beleaguered for years by scandal & ineptness, should be stripped totally of police department management—a scandal unto itself.
For many of us this situation came to light in 2010 when lab tech Deborah Madden was accused of stealing cocaine “evidence” to support her own habit. Madden admitted to possession charges in 2013. Over 1,000 cases had to be dismissed as a result.
But in 2015 another series of lab problems: it particularly implied unqualified police clinicians run the operations (which caused a supervisor & employee to be “reassigned”) & finally triggered this Grand Jury probe. Hence findings say civilian scientists, overseen by a civilian body, should completely take over. Untold numbers of cases again could be compromised.
After the “5’s” press gathering I’m at lunch nearby when a woman enters & recognizes me from the event. Caroljean Wisnieski (curly hair at right) settles in & we have a fabulous conversation! (Here’s that delightful “new connection highlight” again!).
Caroljean shares her own amazing history (in an Openhouse newsletter) later by email. In the follow-up she sheds added light on my concerns: no visible gay reps; & aside from Franciscan Friars & some Black “priests” the biggest absentee seems to be Black preachers.
We here know that Rev. Amos Brown (also SF’s NAACP President) plus the 2 Black Supervisors, London Breed (Board President) & Malia Cohen (Bayview District) clung adamantly to supporting Suhr—although at least 4 other Sups (led by Jane Kim) did “reverse”; even ex mayor Willie Brown (SF’s 1st Black in that slot) championed keeping the embattled Chief.
Another staunch backer was openly gay Supervisor Scott Wiener (at right in 2011 with me) who’s also strangely silent about racist/homophobic cop texts—and the implicated “white gay” cop.
All these “supporters” exhibited major irony.
And of absent “gay” reps it appears at least The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence actually did visit the “5.”
Ah, the Sisters! Of any reps it’s the Sisters & the Radical Faeries (who’ve sponsored my performances) that would actually connect—given their history of stepping out of the status-quo gay pack (going the extra celebration “inclusion” mile).
Supervisor Wiener (running against Kim for the Senate) did sit on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration stage—without addressing the gathering. But given his stance (on Suhr) it’s safe to say he didn’t visit the “5.”
I learn a May 23rd UCSF panel addressed Suhr’s resignation, featuring the “5” (I couldn’t attend); the push for Lee’s resignation goes on. Caroljean also offers links to several “social justice” sites.
So what looms on the horizon?
The day a DA decision announces whether murder charges will be filed against officers who killed Amilcar Perez-Lopez, protesters will gather at the site and then march to Mission Station for a rally.
Given SFPD’s broad chaotic scope the case for just a “few rogue officers” rocking the nation—constantly rammed through by CNN’s ex cop pundits Tom Fuentes & Harry Houck—unravels to literally go up in smoke!
No response from them though, on SF’s ever spiraling chaos—or CNN’s Black pundits (who seem manhandled by these former officers’ shoddy theory) including Don Lemon, Marc Lamont hill, or whomever; I’ve yet to see the colossal PD disaster of San Francisco—a major U.S. city—broadcast there.
And who is Suhr’s temporary replacement?
He is Deputy Chief Toney Chaplin, a 26 year veteran—and an African-American.
You can bet that my pen will stay on the pulse!
Give us a glimpse of what’s going down where you are (CNN sure picks & chooses whose realities get the nation’s broader platform—and they don’t seem to be choosing many of you!)
And I know it’s definitely going down!