The names of Oscar Grant, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and more, have become well known. We know what they looked like. We know how they died. And we know this because someone was there at the time of their death to record it, or report on it.
These are just a few of the names of the thousands who have died unjustly at the hands of police over the last decade. How many times has it been said, in sermons of every moral religious or ethical civic institution: “This injustice cannot go on!”
This past year has brought a great deal of tragedy to millions of people. Few regret the passing of 2020. Many anticipate with hope, this new year, in part, because the new vaccines give us hope for ending the COVID 19 pandemic. But the means to end the pandemic of unjust police violence is not so readily at hand.
It is critically important that San Francisco’s new district Attorney, Chesa Boudin, has brought criminal charges against three members of The San Francisco Police Department for actions that in recent years brought about injury and death. As representatives of the First Unitarian Universalist Society’s Forum and Human Rights Working Groups, we applaud these measures. We encourage District Attorney Boudin to apply unbiased standards of justice to our police department and encourage this application by other DAs across the country.
Hope for justice arose during this year’s uprising from a broad spectrum of voices across the country that followed the horrid death of George Floyd. Yet we are reminded that five years ago in December in San Francisco, following the “execution” of young Mario Woods (and the police killings of Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Luis Gongora Pat, Jessica Williams, and others), plus the scandal of the racist text messages by the SFPD, Chief Greg Suhr finally resigned. This series of awful events prompted the US Department of Justice to take action to make 272 recommendations for SFPD reforms.
Yet today, barely 10 percent of those reforms have been implemented.
Gwen Woods, Mario’s mother, spoke publicly at our UUSF Forum in December about the long struggle to bring change to the police who gunned down her son. Many mothers have bravely pursued justice for a murdered child. Years of determined protests on our San Francisco streets has brought little in the way of justice in these cases. This situation has a destabilizing effect on civic pride and belief in our local institutions because it has taken a heavy toll on the Black and Brown and other communities of color.
District attorneys in the past have failed to bring justice in large part due to the enormous pressures put on them by police associations and other authorities. We support the efforts that Boudin is undertaking to overcome these obstacles by being a voice for new policing standards benefiting our entire community
Let us all work together for the day when we will no longer have to put a Black Lives Matter banner on our UUSF facade because we will live in a society where ALL lives, including Black lives, actually do matter.