Recent demonstrations in response to the killing of two unarmed African American men in Missouri and New York have cost San Francisco $161,721.68 in police overtime pay, a police spokesperson has confirmed.
The protests over the Ferguson, Missouri killing of Michael Brown on November 24 and 28, required $19,402.37 and $87,337.11 in overtime pay respectively. The December fifth protest over Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police cost the city $54,982.20, according to SFPD Sergeant Monica MacDonald.
“The SFPD uses a combination of on duty personnel and over time personnel for protests,” Macdonald wrote in response to the Appeal’s query. “The SFPD is committed to facilitating peaceful protests, while preparing for any criminal activity that may occur during the protest. Keep in mind, we still have to respond to calls for service that are occurring city wide and do not relate to the protests.”
The protest on November 28 (Black Friday), for example, has so far been the city’s most charged demonstration in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury’s decision not to indict the officer responsible for Brown’s death. Protestors vandalized several businesses around Union Square, breaking windows as well as throwing rocks and bottles at the cops, according to SFPD Chief Greg Suhr.
From downtown, the demonstration headed to the Mission District where they smashed more windows and continued to throw objects at officers. Suhr said the conduct at the November 28 protest was criminal and conducted by a “fringe element” that he said appears to embed themselves in peaceful protests before acting out. The SFPD made 79 arrests that day, and five officers were injured Suhr said at the time.
Despite the violence at some of the demonstrations in San Francisco, other cities in the Bay Area have had to shell out even more money. Oakland, for example, has paid out $1.3 million thus far to various city employees — many of whom are cops — to handle the demonstrations.
That figure is much higher than San Francisco’s because Oakland employs 637 officers, compared with San Francisco’s 2,055. More officers on the payroll generally allows the SFPD to shift cops who are already on duty to protest locations without needing to pull additional personnel in that are off-duty.
It’s worth noting that protest duty is not well liked in the SFPD, as it’s seen as both dangerous and work that places officers in volatile situations with sometimes angry people, according to sources in the SFPD.
“Sometimes the words that you hear are loud and hurtful, but we don’t want to be what generates the act,” Suhr said, referring to protesters who accused the department of being comprised of racist officers. He went on to praise the restraint of SFPD officers.
Thus far the cash costs of the demonstrations has been limited to the SFPD, according to the San Francisco City Administrator’s CFO Ken Bukowski. “No other departments — 311, public works, and so on — reported additional expenses during the period of the protests,” he told the Appeal.