Citizens concerned with police policies
attend police and housing commission meeting
Public housing policing discussed
A special meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission was held
at the African American Art and Culture Complex in the Western
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
March 28, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Several community activists criticized
the San Francisco Police Department tonight for their treatment
of African Americans at a rare joint meeting of the police and
housing authority commissions.
The comments come only days before a city controller's report
on alleged racial bias and profiling in the police department
is set to be released.
Several speakers made sure to thank the officers who are doing
good work in the community -- several mayoral awards were given
out at the beginning of the meeting -- but strong words were also
Held in the African American Art and Culture Complex, the meeting
was designed to address the success of a gang
injunction in the Oakdale housing development and the recent
agreement between the housing authority and the police department
in regards to trespassing enforcement.
What emerged from the community activists were concerns that
police would begin to use heavy-handed tactics that could result
in more people of color being behind bars.
London Breed, the executive director of the center and the vice
president of the city's redevelopment agency, brought a 15-year-old
girl in front of the commissioners to tell her story.
According to Breed, the girl was "aggressively handled"
for a crime she didn't commit and was held in jail for an entire
weekend without being allowed to talk to her parents.
"The youth in our community are very impressionable,"
London Breed (left)
"As public servants, we have an opportunity to impress upon
them self respect, compassion and community service. Instead,
we choose disrespect, lies and deceit and I think we need to change
Housing authority commissioner and former Supervisor Amos Brown
agreed there was a problem with the justice system.
"In other communities when kids get in trouble, how often
has it been the case that kids have been slapped on the wrist...
and taken home to their parents?" Brown asked.
"But when it comes to African American youngsters, not
all the time but for the most part, conveniently they are booted
into juvenile hall and locked up and with intent to throw away
the key and keep them in this system."
Reverand Amos Brown
But Housing Authority Director Gregg Fortner said that a new
partnership with the police department that allows officers to
patrol public housing will be a major step in improving community
and police relations.
He said that with officers actively seeking the input of community
members, the city would "bringing back the philosophy of
Housing Authority Director Gregg Fortner
Gang task force Sgt. Mikail Ali also defended recent police activities,
giving for the first time the early results of beat patrols on
public housing sites.
Ali said that since the beginning of March, officers have advised
93 people that they were trespassing on Housing Authority property.
Of those 93 people, only six were cited for returning to the property
following a warning, Ali said.
Sgt. Mikail Ali
In all, Ali said, seven people have been arrested for trespassing
violations at public housing sites.
"The idea is not to go and mass arrest people who violate
this section of the law," Ali said. "It is simply to
change the behavior."
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