Peaceful antiwar protest
marred by SFPD excessive use of force

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News

Tagged: , , , , ,

Published on March 20, 2008 with 2 Comments

An antiwar protestor is immobilized by four San Francisco Police Department officers
during a peaceful rally marking the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

March 20, 2008

Marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, antiwar protesters yesterday were subjected to excessive uses of force by several officers of the San Francisco Police Department.

Officers seemingly hell-bent on inflicting pain violently attacked several protesters and bystanders who were participating in a symbolic peaceful die-in demonstration at the intersection of Market and Montgomery streets.

One protestor was observed bleeding from his left ear while his head and body straddled the curb on Market Street.

Several members of the press, who were documenting the protest, were also subjected to unprovoked force, including this writer who managed to avoid falling to the ground after being shoved by Officer L. Frost.

SFPD Officer L. Frost (center)

The attack began after scores of police officers outfitted with riot gear were ordered to line up on opposite sides of the intersection. Muffled warnings were then issued over a loudspeaker indicating the die-in protestors were subject to arrest. The warnings, however, did not include language indicating excessive force would be used.

Following the warning, a signal was given and the siege began. Several officers used their nightsticks to indiscriminately shove protestors to the ground while the majority of officers involved in the procedure executed the order without using force.

Photo by John Han

Following the procedure, officers encircled the remaining die-in protestors and waited for at least 30 minutes before extricating and placing them under arrest. If clearing the intersection was the SFPD’s goal, why did they wait so long before removing the protestors?

In a city well known for its antiwar rallies, the SFPD has rarely used excessive force to remove protestors during die-in demonstrations. SFPD procedures have typically amounted to the non-violent removal of die-in protestors in a more restrained manner, achieving their objective of clearing an intersection without resorting to the unnecessary use of excessive force.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Peaceful antiwar protest
marred by SFPD excessive use of force
are now closed.

  1. Better to contact an attorney, in my experience they will do more to protect your rights than any city agency.

  2. “When Should You File a Complaint of Police Misconduct?

    A complaint should be filed when you feel that a member of the San Francisco Police Department has acted improperly in the course of their work. Whether the complaint is related to discourteous treatment, an unjustified arrest, unnecessary force or any other police action that you feel to be wrong, the Office of Citizen Complaints want to know about it.”