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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Man Arrested For Photographing Police at Super Bowl City Claims He Was Also Roughed Up

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 1:33 PM

click to enlarge Amir Varick, police photographer and alleged victim of police brutality. - AMIR VARICK
  • Amir Varick
  • Amir Varick, police photographer and alleged victim of police brutality.
Amir Varick, the man detained by police at Super Bowl City on Feb. 3 after taking a few cell phone photos of the sizable police presence and given a citation, claims that the San Francisco cops who took him aside also roughed him up.

At about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 3, Varick had passed through Super Bowl City's security checkpoints and was walking with a co-worker from All of Us Or None and another woman toward to a homeless-themed protest at the Embarcadero. He stopped to take some photos of police — at which point he was taken aside, arrested, and given a misdemeanor citation for "impeding an investigation."

Prior to that, however, the San Francisco cops who arrested him physically assaulted him for about "half an hour," he claims, adding that they targeted him for the photos because he is black.

"I couldn't even get out of bed" the next day, says Varick, who has paperwork from a hospital corroborating some of his story, has secured an attorney from the National Lawyers' Guild, and plans to file a claim, he told SF Weekly. "I still don't have no strength in my arms."

San Francisco police, who defended Varick's detention, said they would have no comment. Below, you can see the two photos that, Varick says, are the ones that got him in trouble.

Varick says the beating began soon after police took him aside to ask him about the photographs. "I'm taking a picture of police up on the roof, and all of a sudden seven Full Metal Jacket guys run up on me. They're like, 'Are you taking a picture?' I'm like, 'Yeah. What did I do? Look around, everyone is taking pictures. There are white people right there taking pictures.'"
click to enlarge One of the two offending pictures. - AMIR VARICK
  • Amir Varick
  • One of the two offending pictures.
click to enlarge One of the two offending pictures. - AMIR VARICK
  • Amir Varick
  • One of the two offending pictures.
Varick says he asked the police who their commanding officer was, and asked to be told why he was detained. "Then, one of the guys kicked me. I was bracing for it. They all looked at each other, and then someone kicked me a second time. That was it. They started beating up on me, twisting my arms. As they're beating up on me, they kept saying, 'Stop resisting! Stop resisting!'"

Varick says he has a twisted ankle, bruised face, and other injuries. He says he refused medical attention from police after he was booked at Central Station in North Beach following his detention, but went to Kaiser Permanente shortly after he was released.

Rachel Lederman, an attorney with the National Lawyers' Guild, has taken Varick's case. On Thursday, she said she could not comment on what legal action she plans to take, but noted "he was definitely subjected to excessive force."

"We're outraged that he was brutalized as well as arrested for simply taking a photograph," she said.

Varick has a court appearance for his misdemeanor citation later this month. It's not clear if law enforcement plans to pursue that case. 

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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