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Monday, May 4, 2009

Activists Say SFPD is Trashing City ID Cards

Posted By and on Mon, May 4, 2009 at 3:48 PM

click to enlarge Pretty fancy 'garbage'
  • Pretty fancy 'garbage'

Neighborhood activists complained to supervisors today that San Francisco police officers are showing "disrespect" for people holding the municipal identification cards the city began distributing in January -- including one alleged incident where an officer in the Tenderloin told a man his city-issued ID was "garbage."

At a meeting of the Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee, immigrant-rights activists from the Tenderloin and Mission districts said people in their neighborhoods had taken serious flack from SFPD patrol officers when they tried to flash their city ID cards. Barbara Lopez of the Tenderloin-based La Voz Latina recounted the experience of an adult man who works delivering pizzas. According to Lopez, he was stopped by a foot patrol on Turk Street last month on suspicion of dealing drugs.

"When he brought out his municipal ID, one of the officers told him, 'This is garbage,'" Lopez said. Diana Oliva of the Central American Resource Center in the Mission said she'd heard complaints from people who visit the center that police had said the IDs "Are not a legitimate card" or are "an immigrant card."

The city began distributing the ID cards in January. They allow San Francisco residents to access city services and prove their identity without regard to immigration status. (Rollout of the ID program was held up because of a lawsuit -- ultimately unsuccessful -- from the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Reform Law Institute, which argued that the cards would help immigrants in the country illegally.)

Supervisor David Campos said after yesterday's committee meeting that he planned to inquire about the incidents with Police Chief Heather Fong. The anecdotes recounted by activists were "disturbing," Campos said. "To the extent that these are reports that police officers are not giving the card its due respect, that's troubling," continued the supervisor.

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco County Clerk's office.

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Peter Jamison

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