The People Fired SFPD Chief Suhr by Ben Bac Sierra

The corrupt spirit of the San Francisco Police Department has been smashed.

It was not the politicians who fired the chief. It was not the billionaires that helped the poor. It was not the new techie hipsters that led us with their innovation.

The people, the locos y locas, the roots fired the chief of police of the richest city on planet earth.

It was not the policies that reformed the police department; it was the movement on the streets.

It was not the goodness of their hearts that made them change their minds; it was the blood on the concrete.

RIP Jessica Nelson. RIP Alex Nieto. RIP Mario Woods. RIP Amilcar Perez Lopez. RIP Luis Gongora. RIP O’Shaine Evans.

There are more, too many more names to grieve. And mourn we must. And continue we must. There is only one way—not forward, but upward. For all of us.

Some may ask what does the firing mean, and I will respond, as always: Spirit Matters Most.

Now that the chief of police has been disgraced, all the police officers have been humiliated and humbled, which is good for them. Let them know how we constantly feel walking down the block, sitting in the classroom, and trying to just live our lives. Now they will know they are not the gods they pretend to be. Now they know the power of the people.

A Black man has replaced ex-chief Suhr. Allow the racist police to swallow that symbol. After having been so blatant with their bigotry, they must now accept orders from a person of color, from the type of person who they constantly kill. Or they must quit. Or stay and be confused and angry and frustrated and doubtful and stressed. Their world has turned upside down. The old guard has fallen.

For us, we can believe. It is a hard thing to hold faith, to believe in the invisible, the spirit of humans in their finest form. Believe we can. For with nothing except our amor and action, we won the battle. With nothing but shouts on the streets, we beat the batons and guns. With the faith of locura, total illogic, we proved our genius over their books and intellectual or economic equations.

A special grito to Amor for Alex Nieto, The Frisco Five, The Mario Woods Coalition, and all those grunts who created and held the frontline.

Con Safos.

Benjamin Bac Sierra

Originally published on Ben’s blog, here.

Recommended reading: Coalitions unite to demand reforms to end police impunity!

Coalitions unite to demand an end to Police Impunity!

Coalitions unite to demand an end to Police Impunity!

Last updated: 5/24/2016

On the 2nd Anniversary of the killing of Alex Nieto by SFPD (March 21, 2016), the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Coalition set forth a list of demands to end police impunity. Since then, these demands have been taken up in discussions by a broader coalition of justice groups including Justice & Love for Alex Nieto, Justice for Mario Woods, Justice for Amilcar Perez Lopez, and Honor & Justice for Luis Góngora Pat. The Idriss Stelley Foundation also endorses these demands.

Based on our ongoing conversations, we have adapted these demands in the following manner. Specific Coalitions have additional demands that the mayor should address. Initially, therefore,

We demand that Mayor Ed Lee:

Fire Chief Suhr – A first and old demand at last met on May 19, 2016.

  • Despite the hunger strike of the #Frisco5 calling for Mayor Ed Lee to #FireChiefSuhr, despite the fact that this demand became the battle cry of the #Frisco500 to 5000 that took City Hall on a weekend in May 7th ending in 33 arrests, it was the loss of the life of twenty-seven year old Jessica Williams (#SayHerName) to a police bullet on Thursday May 19th 9:45am in the Bayview district (on the birthday of Malcolm X) that finally forced Ed Lee to face-up to the people’s anger and ask Chief Greg Suhr to resign.
  • Jessica Nelson was the 22nd fatality under the command of Suhr, the twelfth since 2014, all these fatalities are unaccountable murders (found to be within policy, the latest shootings since 2015 still under review).

Carry out acts of restoration

  • Establish a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto, in collaboration with Elvira and Refugio Nieto at the site where their son was killed in Bernal Heights Park, and where community members have maintained a memorial for two years, as a gesture towards restoring community relations.
  • Establish a permanent memorial for Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat, in collaboration with his family in San Francisco.
  • Inquire of other families who have lost loved ones to an officer-involved shooting if they too would like a permanent memorial, and take actions to create such a memorial.
  • Provide immediate financial relief and specialized services to the families victimized by officer-involved shootings and other conduct resulting in trauma or injury since at least 2014. (Edited by request of survivors of police behavior that caused harm.)

Enforce demand for a fair and independent federal investigation into salient officer-involved shootings since 2014:

  • Enforce the January 26, 2016 Board of Supervisor’s resolution that “requests the United States Department of Justice to undertake independent investigation of the shootings of Alex Nieto, Amilcar Lopez-Perez (sic), and Mario Woods and the process by which the SFPD investigates use of force incidents” by establishing an action plan with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division for an independent federal investigation into those salient cases, including SFPD’s investigation of each case.
  • At this juncture, we demand that said DOJ investigation include all officer-involved shootings since 2014 in which complaints were filed against SFPD or the City, including the killing of Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat on April 7, 2016 and the twenty-seven year old woman murdered by SFPD today.

End the culture of impunity in SFPD:

  • Order the interim Chief of Police to issue bulletins that make alternatives to lethal use of force by SFPD officers unequivocally mandatory in volatile or potentially volatile situations.
  • Order the interim Chief of Police to issue bulletins that make the sanctity of life a ruling principle in all use of force by SFPD officers.
  • Ensure adequate training for SFPD officers in line with our demands.
  • Integrate community members into crisis intervention teams and training so that they can respond with SFPD officers to volatile or potentially volatile situations to participate in mandatory deescalation of conflict.

Support deep structural reform to raise SFPD accountability:

Alongside our demands to the Mayor, we are currently working with Supervisor John Avalos on developing a package of reform initiatives to raise SFPD accountability including. We demand that the Mayor, the Police Commission, and SFPD support our legislative package of reform once presented to the appropriate committee within the Board of Supervisors, and support implementation of any such reforms.

Deep structural reforms demanded of BOS:

We demand that the BOS take action to end police impunity through a package of legislative reforms that should include:

  • Modify legislation (to override the current SFPD General Order) that makes alternatives to lethal use of force by SFPD officers unequivocally mandatory with the aim of preserving life of civilians even in volatile or potentially volatile situations;
  • Radically increase transparency of the SFPD by requiring public and online permanent record keeping of complaints and incidents of use of force by officers, in line with best open government practices and in consideration of the Leno Bill SB1286;
  • Establish a Special Prosecutor’s Office that is a true and autonomous investigative and prosecutorial body in cases involving police misconduct including officer-involved shootings;
  • Establish an elected Civilian Police Commission that will substitute the current Police Commission (a proposal of Idriss Stelley Foundation);
  • Require peer review processes in the Office of Medical Examiner when facing an officer involved shooting;
  • Provide specialized victims services and financial relief for family and community members affected by a lethal use of force by officers, taking into consideration cultural, linguistic, and other special needs; and
  • Increase availability of witness protection programs and options in officer involved shootings, taking into consideration cultural, linguistic, and other special needs; and
  • Provide adequate training for SFPD officers derived from implementation of reforms, including adequate deescalation and crisis intervention training.

We’re just getting started.