Another rally was held in San Francisco today in protest of two police officer-involved shootings in the city in July that both resulted in a death.
Today’s rally was the latest in a string of protests in response to the July 3 shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill by BART police at San Francisco’s Civic Center station and the July 16 shooting involving Kenneth Harding, 19, in the city’s Bayview District.
The police versions of events surrounding both shootings were doubted by the protesters, who questioned whether deadly force was necessary.
Authorities have said Hill was shot after allegedly throwing a knife and bottle at officers on the BART station platform, while Harding died after exchanging gunfire while running from police who were conducting a San Francisco Municipal Railway fare check.
An autopsy later determined that the bullet that killed Harding did not come from a police gun, and police said he may have shot himself–either accidentally or on purpose–while running away.
Today’s rally held on the steps outside of City Hall was attended by about a dozen members of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, a national coalition started in 1996.
The group called on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to conduct an independent investigation into the two shootings, and many attended this afternoon’s board meeting to repeat their request during the meeting’s public comment period.
Terry Joan Baum, the Green Party candidate for mayor of San Francisco in November’s election, attended today’s rally and spoke out in opposition to the shootings and subsequent investigations by the police departments.
“We don’t believe the police investigation because no one can investigate themselves,” Baum said. “That’s why we need an independent body.”
The group is also seeking the prosecution of the San Francisco and BART police officers involved in the shooting if it is found that they are at fault, and for an end of fare inspection by police in the Bayview District.
Many of the protesters criticized the incident that preceded the shooting of Harding, saying he was killed just for not having a $2 Muni fare.
Rodger Scott, a professor at City College of San Francisco and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, said, “There are too many instances of police officers using deadly force when the threat does not justify it … especially in communities of color.”
Danny Garcia, a member of the coalition, said his brother Mark was killed in an incident involving San Francisco police in 1996, and said something needs to change because thousands more people have been killed by police in the 15 years after his brother’s death.
“Enough is enough, because the whole system is guilty,” Garcia said. “Until we make them feel the pain that we feel as family members, it won’t stop.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News