Protesters convene at City Hall to voice animosity toward police brutality
Two groups of protesters converged on San Francisco City Hall Tuesday afternoon to call attention to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and participate in a national day of action.
Stop Mass Incarceration Network, an organization who vocalizes its devotion to ending the police brutality of Black and Latino youth, led a march from 24th and Mission streets to City Hall. Members of SF State’s Black and Brown Liberation Coalition coordinated an unconnected but related demonstration at the same location. A thin line of riot police was all that separated the two groups.
SMIN organizer Joey Johnson called on the community to walk out of school and work to join the protest.
“It’s not enough to have tears of sympathy for (victims of police brutality) or anguish in your own heart about this,” Johnson said. “You have to actually act to stop it.”
Liz Roja, a liberal studies major and member of SMIN, led the Mission crowd in chants as they took to the streets. She said that her emotions toward the issue are justified because the current state of police will not change, regardless of who is in power.
“It’s never gonna happen, so I think it’s up to the masses to say ‘No more,’” Roja said.
Protesters stopped at the San Francisco Police Department Mission Station during the march to write “pigs,” “murderers” and “fuck the police” in chalk on the front of the building.
Officers watched from the inside as marchers pressed megaphones to the doors and demanded justice for victims of police brutality, like 28-year-old Alex Nieto who was shot and killed by the SFPD in 2014.
At City Hall, a group of demonstrators including BBLC and San Francisco Student Union members stormed the weekly San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting just before the SMIN marchers arrived to the scene and demanded action.
When the SMIN marchers arrived, they were stopped by a line of dozens of police officers in riot gear. Approximately 200 marchers crowded between the entrance and the security checkpoint and were denied access to enter.
Lea Volk, a sociology and Latina/o studies major and a member of the Student Union, said the shutdown was important to her because she believes in the Black and Brown Lives Matter movement.
“The ongoing police brutality and impunity and just outright murder of people of color is unacceptable and it’s not just a black problem,” Volk said.
Volk said having the protest at City Hall will hold local politicians accountable and she applauds the SFPD for disciplining the police officers who sent homophobic and racist text messages to each other in 2012.
“People aren’t allowing such racist and prejudiced behavior to happen within their justice system, so I appreciate that people are beginning to stand up,” Volk said. “But we also need all of the board of (supervisors), we need the governor, we need the mayor, we need everybody to stand up in solidarity to speak out against this.”
BBLC founder Brittany Moore acted as an impromptu spokesperson during the protest, addressing the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Moore not only discussed police brutality but the gentrification issues affecting people of color in San Francisco.
“When you continue on with business as usual, you don’t get to continue on,” Moore said. “You don’t get to sit in this room. Rest assured, we’re not going anywhere and this is only the beginning.”