Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Blog 12.7.15

Here are links to two videos showing how SFPD handled a similar incident that took place last Wednesday in the Bayview District. Video One and Video Two.  All three videos contain graphic violence, so please take that into consideration before clicking on any of these links.

I posted the above video as an example of how someone wielding a knife can be apprehended without the use of deadly force.  That much is obvious, but I also included links to videos of the SFPD basically playing judge, jury, and executioner when five of its officers opened fire on Mario Woods, who didn’t appear to be any more threatening than the man apprehended by the London police in the first video, and if anything he appeared (in the videos) to be less of a threat.  I could write more about the particulars of this incident, but why?  The videos speak for themselves, and that’s one of the reasons that I find it so ridiculous that SFPD Chief Greg Suhr would try to spin last Wednesday’s events by using photographic evidence instead of the multiple videos, that had already gone viral on social media, at Friday’s community meeting, which took place at San Francisco City College.  It’s even more ludicrous that police departments around the country are still allowed to deflect by using the same tired “We’re currently conducting an internal investigation” response.  

One of the things I’m seeing a lot online is that citizens are calling for SFPD Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down, or be fired.  Another thing I saw immediately after the first video of the SFPD killing Mario Woods surfaced was a call for massive reform in the San Francisco Police Department, which is a reasonable response after witnessing (on video) what was clearly an excessive use of deadly force by the SFPD.  My response would be, yes, Greg Suhr has to go.  Why?  It’s simple, that’s the job he signed up for.  He could’ve told all of those officers personally behind closed doors to never do what they did on numerous occasions, but they did it anyway, and the buck stops with him.  That said, he could’ve come out and admitted that what happened was wrong, and that the five officers involved would be held responsible for their actions by the department (i.e. lose their jobs), then even go so far as to suggest that said officers be tried in a court of law.  Last but not least, he should’ve taken responsibility for what happened, played the two videos, apologized again, then again after that, and listened patiently while citizens from Bayview yelled at him for the duration of the community meeting.  There’s a time to spin and a time not to spin, and that was not the time.   

People have been conditioned to immediately call for reforms when government institutions are exposed as being incompetent or corrupt, but that’s an age old trap that was set years ago by the same power structure that controls this country.  With roughly only 50% of the eligible voters in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley being registered to vote, and only around half of those registered actually voting, the people calling for these reforms lack the leverage needed to make their demands heard in the proper context.  Even if there was greater voter turnout, there is still the issue of how city governments conduct business, i.e. the system that is already in place, which is often a local version of everything most Americans detest about big government bureaucracy at the state and federal levels.  I think the SFPD and police departments around the country need to be reformed,  but more than that I think they need be restructured and reimagined as something completely different than what they are today.  Every police department, which I’ll continue referring to them as because I haven’t yet thought of a new name, would answer directly to their local communities in a way that would ensure that if five police officers executed a man carrying a kitchen knife on a public street, then those officers would be fired immediately, as would the chief (assuming that position still existed in some capacity), and a trial would take place to determine whether what they did was voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, as would be the case for any of us now, even if our defense was “self defense”. 

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