Trust the police? - Page 2

Relations between the cops and certain communities have been strained over the last year

|
()
Protestors blocked Muni on the anniversary of Kenneth Harding Jr.'s death.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

"It wasn't until more officers arrived on scene to assist the primary officers and prevent them from being surrounded by a hostile crowd that could have potentially escalated the situation. Not to mention, the ambulance would not be able to enter a violent scene that could potentially put their lives at risk, until we feel it is safe," he said. "Remember, the officers did not know if Harding was laying under the gun. Approaching an armed gunmen who was shooting at officers is extremely dangerous and life-threatening."

But many say the police shouldn't be afraid of the community it patrols. When Chatman moved to the Bay Area, she says, she found a community in Bayview-Hunters Point. She also found support in a movement against police violence, made up largely of grieving mothers.

When hundreds marched in San Francisco demanding that George Zimmerman be charged with murdering Trayvon Martin in Florida, Chatman joined other African American mothers in condemning police killings of their sons. Since Martin's death, similar deaths have continued in the Bay Area.

Alan Blueford, 18, was killed May 6 in Oakland three weeks before he graduated high school. Derrrick Gaines was 15 when he was fatally shot June 5 in South San Francisco. Each case feeds anew the fears and resentments some communities feel toward the police.

 

POLICING THE COMMUNITY

Some Occupy reactions continued a tradition of a certain type of radical response to police: just get them out. For many, police are like foreign occupying forces in neighborhoods, afraid of locals they don't understand and willing to shoot to kill in mildly threatening situations. Harding and Gaines were running away when they were shot; Blueford was allegedly wielding a screwdriver. In all these situations, shooting to wound likely would have sufficed for self-defense.

When asked how she would like to see police interact differently with Bayview-Hunters Point residents, Chatman didn't see much potential. "Not at this point," Chatman said. "There's been too many murders. Things would have to change drastically. And the mayor trying to implement a stop and frisk? Kenny is a worst example of stop and frisk and racial profiling."

Indeed, at the end of a tense year, Mayor Lee's idea of adopting the stop-and-frisk tactics used in New York and Philadelphia has been met with intense dissent. Sup. Malia Cohen — whose District 10 includes Bayview-Hunters Point — and former Mayor Willie Brown, two of the mayor's supporters, immediately came out against the idea.

"San Francisco should remain focused on community policing that values both law enforcement and building relationships with communities who live with gun violence. Anything less would undermine decades of hard work in building trust between local law enforcement and our neighborhoods," she wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

Even the SFPD is wary of the idea.

"We are not passing stop and frisk," Manfredi told the Guardian. "It's not even an option on the table for the department. We're using the same method we've been using this whole time: probable cause and reasonable suspicion."

 

A TROUBLING PATTERN

The anniversary of Harding's death comes a week after the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a highly circulated report that concluded an African American is killed by a police officer or someone "deputized to act in their name" every 40 hours.

"We call [the killings] 'extrajudicial'," the report notes, "because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions." The report notes that only nine people have been charged in the 110 killings it looks at, and none convicted.

Also from this author

  • Privatization of public housing

    Many residents feel they're moving from the frying pan of Housing Authority control into the fire of developer and nonprofit management

  • Homeless for the holidays

    Changing demographics in the Bayview complicate city efforts to open a shelter there

  • Betting on Graton

    Newest casino targeting Bay Area residents promises to share the wealth with workers and people of color