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Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Show of Support for the Officers Involved in the Mario Woods Shooting Didn't Go Well

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 10:16 AM

  • Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner
Last night’s Police Commission meeting didn’t go well for the dozens of off-duty officers who turned out in support of their five colleagues involved in the Dec. 2 shooting death of Mario Woods. Per the Chronicle, the officers were drowned out by a crowd of activists before finally exiting the meeting en masse.

Many of the officers were there at the behest of Police Officers Association president Martin Halloran, who has repeatedly denounced the public outcry over the Woods shooting. (The SFPD shot Woods, a 26-year-old African-American who allegedly stabbed an as-yet-unidentified victim, after he threatened them with a knife — a threat that has been widely disputed, thanks to video of the incident that quickly went viral.)

“Under our current justice system, we are innocent until proven guilty, Officer Shante Williams said during the meeting’s public comments, according to the Chronicle. “We are not a diverse firing squad. We put our lives at risk every day.”

Few of the activists at the meeting were appeased by such statements.

“If the POA is a reflection of the police department, we are in a bad way,” Don Beckler told the Examiner.

“It was a horse and pony show, and I think it was disrespectful to the family and to the community because we all came out here with open ears to hear what they had to say,” Perry Jones told the Chronicle. “They’re separating themselves from us, and that was what the walkout was about.”

The officers’ walkout recalled a similar incident on Monday, when Mayor Ed Lee’s speech at the Interfaith Council was interrupted by protesters, who shouted him off the stage. “Would Martin Luther King be proud of you right now?” rapper Equipto asked a clearly flustered Lee.

(And, of course, later that day protesters, many of them affiliated with Black Lives Matter, shut down the Bay Bridge for nearly an hour.)

Police Chief Greg Suhr was also at last night’s meeting, where he again faced calls to resign. (Suhr has vowed to stick with the force and push through reforms.)

The Police Commission is now revising the department’s use-of-force policies. But as yesterday’s meeting demonstrated, the process will be bumpy.

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Jeremy Lybarger

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