SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Police use of force was the hot topic at a packed town hall in San Francisco Thursday night, when the city’s new police chief faced the public for the first time.
With bleachers filed at the Joseph Lee recreation center, residents of the Bayview, and the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition had their first public meeting about changes within SFPD.
“We just need men above reproach that can’t be bought or sold, have some integrity and not look at a group of people in our community as animals,” said Gwen Woods, Mario’s mother. Mario Woods was fatally shot by police officers more than 20 times in the Bayview in 2015.
The meeting served as a warning to new chief William Scott, that the community and activists have already brought change about.
“The reason that you sit you here tonight is because of the activism that has taken place in San Francisco to get Chief Suhr fired,” one of the speakers said.
“We have to show you that we are committed and we have to show you by our actions, not by me standing up here with a microphone telling you what we’re going to do. We have to do what it is that we said we’re gonna do. I expect to be held accountable for that,” Scott said.
Tyra Fennell of the Bayview told KPIX 5, “The community is right. A lot of times these positions are filled when they’re in turmoil by a black face, to be sort of like a red herring so that people think the problem is solved and I think this community is hip to that and they’re just letting him know. We’ll give you a shot, but we don’t want you to be just a figurehead – we want to see that you can really make change in our communities.”
Scott also offered an apology. “As a human being, I’m truly sorry for your loss. On behalf of the San Francisco Police Department, we are truly sorry for your loss,” the new chief said.