Tuesday, December 1, 2020
News + Politics The SF police union is embarrassing itself and losing...

The SF police union is embarrassing itself and losing its clout

More and more politicians are running away from the SFPOA endorsement, and for very good reason

-

Slowly, but with increasing momentum, the San Francisco Police Officers Association is losing its political clout.

At one point, not that long ago, the POA was among the most sought-after endorsements. Candidates for office at every level wanted the cops on their side. Shameless mailers used police stars, pictures of police officers, pretty much anything that said “law enforcement” to let the voters know that the men and women in blue had given their stamp of approval to a candidate.

Not anymore.

The cops are going after a 49ers quarterback, which just makes them look dumber. 49ers promo photo
The cops are going after a 49ers quarterback, which just makes them look dumber. 49ers promo photo

In fact, when it became clear that the POA was spending money to support Josh Arce, a candidate for supe in D9, Hillary Ronen put out a fundraising statement touting the fact that the police union, “a group that has consistently stopped all reforms and defended racism and excessive use of force – is supporting my opponent.”

Everyone I talk to in local politics these days says the same thing: By staking out the most unreasonable right-wing positions on reform, the POA is making itself irrelevant.

It’s odd that the POA hasn’t figured this out (and neither have the candidates the cops are backing). Nobody is touting Mayor Ed Lee’s endorsement these days; it’s pretty clear that he’s a net negative.

But the POA keeps digging itself in deeper and deeper. And pretty soon, the union will lose what little clout is has left, because no politician will want to be associated with it.

In fact, the POA’s strong support for Toney Chaplin, the acting chief who wants the permanent job, would have been a big deal at one point. The rank-and-file want a “cop’s cop” for chief; the Police Commission and the mayor would take that into account, and try to avoid offending the POA.

At this point, I think the POA’s support can only erode Chaplin’s standing. (Not that his comments in Matier and Ross Sunday helped; the guy sounded like he was ducking questions and had something to hide).

And now it gets even worse, to the point of absurdity: The POA is attacking the 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, over his decision not to stand for the national anthem.

In a letter to the president of the 49ers, the union tries to divert the issue of police violence against people of color by talking about “8,000 murders that African Americans inflicted on one another in 2015.” The letter says that Kaepernick has “disrespected police officers for no apparent reason.”

I don’t even know where to start.

Except to say that Kaepernick is right about the national anthem – it has some pretty seriously racist roots. Francis Scott Key was furious that Black slaves had joined the British army (where they were accepted and promised freedom) and gone to war in 1812 against the leaders of a nation that kept them in chains.

Nobody goes beyond the first verse of his famous poem, but if you do you get the point pretty well.

When I was in High School, during the Vietnam War, a lot of kids refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. A few right-wing teachers made a big deal of it, which just encouraged more rebellious teens to remain in their seats. In the end, the administration agreed that there was a free speech issue here, and it was never a huge deal. The whole discussion got more students interested in what was happening in Vietnam – and all these years later, does anyone seriously want to argue which side was right about that war?

Kap is doing something pretty unusual for the NFL (and pro sports in general). He’s taking a political stand. Good for him. I hope he wins back the starting job and takes the Niners to the Super Bowl.

At which point the POA will look even dumber, if such a thing were possible.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

53 COMMENTS

  1. …still not sure exactly when I signed the agreement…that says whenever/wherever I hear this ridiculous song, I’m required to stand up and salute it..

  2. I don’t quite agree the the SSB is a “celebration of slavery”. The cited stanza seems to wish ill or retribution toward one’s enemy – in this case former/captured slaves who have enlisted against and fought to capture, but which was not captured.

    “No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”

    The song celebrates that the enemy (the British) didn’t succeed, and neither did their allies.

    How is that a celebration of Slavery, exactly?

  3. The NFL has become socially conscious and supports social causes. Weren’t all football players wearing pink ribbons recently. So Kap is not doing anything different. The NFL started it. But I am getting tired of PC. I don’t watch football for social issues. I watch to get away from reality for a while and be entertained. Any more of this and will be turning off my TV or switching channels.

  4. Colin Kap has insulted the safety of the MIC images; it will be interesting to see how the stadium crowd acts/reacts this coming Thursday in San Diego as that opening ceremony is going to revere the “military”.
    “Puffery is not freedom”. So many African American vets have come back to the US after serving overseas and have had their eyes opened as to what individual freedom really is. Why is “equality” so hard for so many Americans to accept?
    I’m not a football fan of Kap but I respect him for his stand.
    After all the US flag also stands for dissent. A word too hard for too many Americans to spell or even understand.

  5. Besides the racism of the words to the anthem, the author of the Star Spangled Banner was a slaveowner and defended slavers in court. When he was US attorney, he prosecuted abolitionists, but not slavers or slave traders.

  6. I agree with Kap’s “standing-up-by-sitting-down” approach, but he’s not taking any team — much less the Niner’s — to the Super Bowl this year.

More by this author

The cops, cannabis, tracking landlords — and are we just done with Zuckerberg?

Plus: a new committee on African American reparations. That's The Agenda for Nov. 30 to Dec. 6

Why it matters that Boudin is charging a cop with manslaughter

The DA's unprecedented decision sends a message that the police can't kill people with impunity.

Will the cops agree to an acceptable deal by next week?

POA and Mayor's Office still in secret talks with Dec. 1 deadline for final approval of a new contract.

Supes to push measure keeping homeless hotels open

Proposal would set up another confrontation with the Mayor's Office over keeping unhoused safe during COVID.

Supes approve police contract that many agree is a bad deal

Facing threats of layoffs and promises of POA remorse, board approves raises for cops with no guarantees they will stop blocking reforms.

Most read

The sleaze reaches high tide at City Hall

How can this level of seemingly endless corruption have happened -- and how high does it go?

The cops, cannabis, tracking landlords — and are we just done with Zuckerberg?

Plus: a new committee on African American reparations. That's The Agenda for Nov. 30 to Dec. 6

Why did so many people vote for Trump?

Radical economic inequality causes social breakdown. We're seeing it right now.

‘Throwing us out like garbage’

SIP hotel residents say the city's not living up to its promises -- and contracts.

You might also likeRELATED