Amid the anti-police brutality movement and Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, an SF State student organization is zeroing in on tracking abusive officer activity and increased police accountability for misconduct.
The Black & Brown Liberation Coalition is an organization created to combat racism and raise awareness on issues regarding police and people of color. The group started developing this database project after their “die-in” demonstration on campus last October. At the event, hosted by BBLC, students dropped “dead” at Malcolm X Plaza to observe the National Day of Awareness Against Police Brutality.
The police officer database is a long-term project the group has worked on that will cite San Francisco officer records and detail instances of killings, abuse, harassment and excessive force and will be accessible online through the upcoming BBLC web page.
“Right now there’s no cohesive or actual one location where we can see records of police officers who have killed, who have extensive violence on their records,” Brittany Moore, founder of BBLC said. “We’ve decided ‘Let’s do it.’”
Moore said the database will consist of two different parts: one part will list the names of the officers and records of abuse while the other part will document profiles of victims who have been killed by officers.
BBLC member Lisa Mears said they hope to document counts of police brutality dating back to the 2009 death of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland. The biggest obstacle BBLC faces will be obtaining records of SFPD officers because of confidentiality issues, Moore said.
The members will attempt to attend SFPD’S Youth and Community Engagement meetings which are only open to SFPD officers. Moore said she would like members working on the database to have access to those meetings to establish a friendly presence.
“If (the police) let us into there and they get to know us and understand we’re not trying to do anything that the community doesn’t want, this will look better for police officers in general if (they) realize the importance of working with your community as opposed to pushing back against what the community wants,” Moore said.
The YCE is responsible for building relationships between the police department and the community and creating open dialogue between the two, according to the SFPD website.
The BBLC is working on the database with the Black Student Union and MEChA at SF State. They also teamed up with CopWatch, a North American nonprofit organization that monitors police activity and watches for signs of brutality.
Moore said the groups will work together to fact check by confirming with SFPD and conducting peer reviews.
Elizabeth Brown, associate professor and coordinator of the criminal justice studies program, thinks the database can be beneficial but also has concerns about bias.
“There’s a lot of statistics we don’t know surrounding those issues,” Brown said. “But I also think that sometimes those issues can be subject to political whims and not necessarily looked at in a more concerted and cohesive manner.”
Moore said that while the creation of the database is still in its early stages, she has high hopes of what it will accomplish.
“I hope people start piecing together the fact that (police brutality), by no means, is an isolated incident,” Moore said.