The San Francisco Police Department is issuing its officers to take a pledge to turn in colleagues who display intolerant behavior, including jokes and slurs that target gays, women, and people of color.
The Associated Press reports the pledge is supposed to help strengthen positive ties between San Francisco police officers and community activists and minority neighborhoods. Although the pledge, which is just a fraction of a broader plan, just came to light, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said the pledge and the “Not on My Watch” campaign have been planned for some time.
However, the plan had to come to fruition quickly after San Francisco police shot and killed 26-year-old Mario Woods on December 2, 2015. The Huffington Post states that Woods, a young black man, was shot 21 times by police when police allege he approached them in a threatening manner with a knife. However, witness videos have emerged seemingly showing Woods not acting in a threatening manner before he was gunned down by the San Francisco police.
Woods was allegedly a suspect of a crime that involved a stabbing earlier that day, and the San Francisco cops say he ignored commands to stop and was not phased by a bean bag gun or tear gas.
Although racist texts sent between San Francisco cops have emerged, Chief Suhr did not punish the officers in an expedient manner, according to a judge. Yulanda Williams, who heads a minority police officers group, helped to start the pledge when she uncovered a white co-worker used a black slur in texts to other San Francisco police officers protesting about Williams’ promotion to sergeant. Some of the other texts exchanged between the co-workers had racist and homophobic insults and slurs in them.
Now, San Francisco police take a pledge that reads, in part, “I will not tolerate hate or bigotry in our community or from my fellow officers. I will confront intolerance and report any such conduct without question or pause.”
Although, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee seemingly stands behind the police chief on the way the racist and homophobic texts were handled, Lee did ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting of Woods.
Protests erupted over the killing of Woods. Even with the mayor asking for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, protesters accuse Mayor Lee of giving the NFL preferential treatment over the Woods case.
Protesters claim the San Francisco mayor is more interested in accommodating the NFL for the Super Bowl in the city than repairing the wounds between the officers and communities after the Woods shooting. The Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition took to Facebook to vent about the mayor’s actions after Woods’ death.
“He has spent all of his energy pushing out the homeless, disabling bus lines and creating traffic jams so that his precious Super Bowl City can inconvenience the city of San Francisco for two weeks. This is energy he could have spent apologizing to Mario Woods’ family, seeking justice and acting like he actually cares about the black and brown community in San Francisco. We have promised him no peace until we get justice. We will bring it to his precious Super Bowl City.”
Many protests occurred where Woods died. People who wanted the chief of the San Francisco police removed interrupted the mayor’s inauguration on January 8. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was briefly shut down on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18, due to angry protests.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors recognized the pain and grief of Woods’ family and their supporters on Wednesday by issuing a day of remembrance on Woods’ birthday, July 22. While the recognition may have helped acknowledge those who believe Woods was killed in cold blood, police union officials were obviously slighted by the supervisors before the vote was carried out.
“Those who have died a violent death, in the line of duty, within the SFPD and the SFFD serving this City have never received such acknowledgment and it is a travesty that certain public officials would glorify anyone who preys on the most vulnerable in our community,” San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran stated on Facebook.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]