San Francisco cops took down a handicapped man earlier this month, taking away his crutches and sitting on his prosthetic leg for at least 10 minutes, while bystanders protested.
The incident took place on San Francisco’s troubled Market Street boulevard, which social-media powerhouses like Twitter and Uber now call home. This being wired San Francisco, the incident was filmed on cellphone and released to the world. Apparently, someone had called the cops about the man waving sticks (his crutches) about.
Elle journalist Chaédria LaBouvier filmed the incident on her cellphone as she razzed the cops over their treatment of the African-American handicapped man, who may have been homeless. She published her report on the Aug. 4 incident with the San Francisco cops on Monday on the Medium website.
The video starts with four cops having already taken the man down and in the first five seconds one police officer steps on the man’s natural and prosthetic legs. Then another officer man-handles the man’s head. The man is heard to cry out, “this s—t hurts.”
Within a few minutes 10 more cops show up, for no other reason than to create a human wall between LeBouvier’s cellphone and the scene on the ground.
“This is how you treat citizens – have him partially nude while y’all pin down his prosthetic leg – that’s how you all do?” LeBouvier is heard to yell at the police.
No one was killed in the incident and it’s not even clear if the man was injured. At the end of the video, a San Francisco Police Department wheelchair is rolled up and the cops appear to be helping the handicapped man into the chair.
So is this news? Just another day of police brutality in San Francisco? LeBouvier sees the incident as a data point in the American tradition of “destroying the black body.”
In San Francisco and throughout America, she writes, “we’ve normalized and habitualized” policing that “brutalizes” the most vulnerable people in society – stripping a handicapped person of the right to walk down the street unviolated – “when in actuality, they are whom the police are especially supposed to be protecting.”
Many San Francisco residents might suppose that this is an aberrant case, that the cops do not routinely behave this way in the beautiful City by the Bay. But LeBouvier cites a statistic that blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be arrested in San Francisco.
San Francisco’s police force has been exposed for sending racist text messages, pocketing drugs and money seized in possibly illegal raids, and running a faulty crime lab. According to a KQED study of San Francisco police homicides, more than half the people killed by San Francisco cops were mentally ill.
LeBouvier calls on San Francisco citizens to attend police department community meetings, contact the cops’ superior officers and contact San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr about policing tactics and protecting citizens from cops.
The San Francisco Police Department has not issued a statement on the incident.
[Image and video by Chaédria LaBouvier]