Protesters gather in Jack Adams Hall at Project Rebound’s District Attorney Q&A on Oct. 20, 2022. (Neal Wong for Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)
Protesters gather in Jack Adams Hall at Project Rebound’s District Attorney Q&A on Oct. 20, 2022. (Neal Wong for Golden Gate Xpress)

Neal Wong

San Francisco district attorney candidates met with protesters at SF State

Interim District Attorney Brooke Jenkins left early after protesters stormed Jack Adams Hall.

October 21, 2022

San Francisco’s three district attorney candidates Joe Alioto Veronese, Brooke Jenkins and John Hamasaki, spoke at SF State’s Jack Adams Hall Thursday. Over 150 attendees gathered to listen to the candidates.

Project Rebound, one of the 13 programs offered by Associated Students, organized the event to provide a space for formerly incarcerated students and members of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice to ask the candidates questions.

About a dozen protesters wearing black T-shirts stormed Jack Adams Hall about a half-hour into the debate. They held signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Justice for Keita O’Neil and Sean Moore.”

The DA’s office charged San Francisco police officer Kenneth Cha with manslaughter for shooting Moore in front of his own home after a neighbor complained of loud noises. Moore was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

The city also paid O’Neil’s family $2.5 million to avoid a lawsuit after former officer Chris Samayoa shot unarmed Keita O’Neil for allegedly stealing a car.

“I’m protesting myself for multiple politicians because when they were appointed, not voted,” said protestor Nyajal Taylor.  “On top of that, they are corrupt and they believe in criminalizing our youth and further generations. On top of that, there’s injustice for two black men that were murdered by the police in San Francisco. We’re not seeing any justice for that.”

Interim District Attorney Brooke Jenkins prepares to leave the stage after protesters stormed Jack Adams Hall at Project Rebound’s District Attorney Q&A on Oct. 20, 2022. (Neal Wong for Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

The protesters continuously chanted  “You were appointed, not elected,” to interim DA Jenkins.

She left the building a few minutes after the protesters entered the building.

“Holding evidence which could have locked somebody away for the rest of their lives, that’s the type of district attorney that we have right now,” Veronese said. “My God, what a coward for walking out of here because a bunch of young people are demonstrating their first amendment right.”

Before protesters entered the event,  Jenkins addressed the removal of Judge Anthony Kline from the San Francisco Juvenile Court.

Judge Kline has practiced law for at least 42 years. Jenkins said that sometimes she has to make tough choices but declined to say more.

 She also addressed her approach toward people with mental illness, substance abuse issues, and people who are houseless.  

“We have to really push and enhance the alternatives to incarceration that we have,” Jenkins said. “Especially our collaborative court programs, our behavioral health court, our drug court, to make sure that we are diverting those people who have mental health issues, substance abuse issues into those courts.”

Jenkins said she had to make decisions in the best interests of minors and the city.

People in the audience said they felt disappointed by the removal of Kline and that they expected to hear more from Jenkins.

“We were concerned over the effort to get rid of probably what is the best juvenile court judge we’ve had in years up there,” said Dan Macallair, member of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice professor at SF State. “We don’t know why, so I wanted to hear what her answer was, but she left before we had a chance to hear her answer.”

Hamasaki and Veronese also had an opportunity to speak on these issues.

Hamasaki said the city needs different first responders than police officers when dealing with people with mental health or substance abuse.

“I work to develop a program with the coalition on homelessness called Compassionate Alternative Response Team, which was to get unhoused folks treated by other enhanced folks and service providers instead of the police because the police are there to deal with serious and violent crimes,” Hamasaki said.

Veronese said the city needs to hold politicians and the mayor accountable for the city crisis. and that he would start auditing the $3.5 billion the city spends on homelessness every year. 

“Mental health crisis is an addiction crisis and they end up turning into criminal justice issues,” Veronese said. “Addiction and mental health are not crimes, they are sicknesses and they’re public health issues that need to be addressed by our public health administrators.” 

The event ended around 7 p.m.

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Photo of Oscar Palma
Oscar Palma, Staff Reporter
Oscar Palma (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in Latin American studies. Oscar was born in Nicaragua but now lives in San Francisco, where he has been for the last 10 years. He previously wrote for El Tecolote, the oldest bilingual newspaper in the United States. Oscar wants to be an environmental journalist who covers Latin America; during his free time, he enjoys cycling, live music and film.
Photo of Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Contributor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a freelance photojournalist for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in communications. He was born and raised in San Francisco, California. In his free time, Neal procrastinates, explores places, binge-watches shows and volunteers.

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