Contemputf8g Wolf - Page 2

Police Commission revives discussion of why the cops federalized an investigation that denied a journalist's rights

An investigation into the assault on SFPD officer Peter Shields normally would have been undertaken by local police and District Attorney Kamala Harris. Police records show that SFPD inspector Lea Militello requested "assistance from the FBI/JTTF regarding investigation of a serious assault against a San Francisco police officer." Federal investigators justified their involvement by maintaining that there had been an attempted arson on an SFPD squad car purchased in part with federal funds, even though SFPD records indicate only that the car's rear tail light was broken.

"There was nothing incriminating on my tape," Wolf told the Police Commission, recalling how he offered to prove his statement by letting the federal judge view it in his private chambers, an offer the judge refused. "But because I had no federal protections, I had to decide whether to engage in a McCarthyesque witch hunt," Wolf added; he long had suspected that the feds wanted to profile anarchists about whom he has intimate knowledge.

Campos and Sparks hope that last week's Police Commission discussion will be the first in a series about the protocols and procedures that the SFPD follows in deciding whether to refer matters to federal authorities. Both stress that asking for such a study does not mean they do not care that an SFPD officer was hurt. As Sparks told us, "At this point we don't know what the deliberations behind everything that night were or how many people were deployed. For us to comment on a police officer being injured is inappropriate unless we have all the information. And all we're hearing is anecdotal stuff. Our job is not to take sides but to figure out what the policies were, are, and what they should be."

Police Chief Heather Fong has agreed to report to the Police Commission in August on policies and procedures related to the SFPD's General Orders, the city's ordinances on immigration and medical marijuana, and protection of journalists' rights. Sparks predicts that the report will tell the commission "what the SFPD's policies do, how that compares to the Board of Supervisors' resolutions, and whether we need to rewrite them or write new rules for the police."

Commissioner Campos told us he hopes the report will clarify whether the police have an obligation to report to the feds if an investigation involves damage to property bought with federal funding. "If it's the case that we are obligated, then we need a discussion. Do we want to accept funds if doing so ties our hands and forces us to do something that San Francisco doesn't want to do? For instance, if we accept funding, then does that mean we have to cooperate with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]? If so, then a lot of us, myself included, would be up in arms and would say, 'Let's not.' To the extent that it comes down to money, I'd hope that we'd make the choice that we'd rather not take the money than get in bed with the federal government."

Wolf, who was not convicted of any crime but served 226 days for being in contempt of a grand jury subpoena, was released April 3 after he agreed to post all his unedited footage online — an action the feds claimed as evidence that he had submitted to their demands. But Wolf pointed out that he agreed to do so only after the feds promised that he would not have to testify about anyone whose actions or words he had captured on tape. He also pointed out that he released the tapes to everyone, not just the federal government.

Since being released Wolf has announced his intention to run for mayor of San Francisco this fall, saying he was inspired by the recent Progressive Convention called by Sup. Chris Daly "in which they had a great platform but no declared candidate."

Wolf's candidacy pits him against Mayor Gavin Newsom, who expressed neither support for Wolf nor criticism of his detention.