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Monday, May 23, 2022

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News + PoliticsA deadline for police accountability

A deadline for police accountability

Plus: What the School Board recall really meant—and why is the right wing so worried about Critical Race Theory? That's The Agenda for Feb. 21 to 27


Police Chief Bill Scott is facing a tight deadline to come up with at least an interim plan to have the District Attorney’s Office take the lead in police-shooting investigations: He has until Wednesday, when the Police Commission will hold a special meeting to consider whether to order him to stick with the original deal.

Scott has consistently refused, even in the face of a unanimous Police Commission, to back off from his vow to withdraw from the Memorandum of Understanding that governs police shootings, in-custody deaths, and other use-of-force issues.

Under that deal, negotiated with George Gascon was DA, the police are no longer the lead investigators in those cases, and the DA’s Office has access to the crime scene, the incident reports, all officers involved, and any witness testimony.

When Amilcar Lopez was shot by SFPD, a police investigation failed to turn up evidence of any wrongdoing by the cops.

DA Chesa Boudin says that system has worked well: The number of police shootings is way down since the MOU took effect.

And in past cases, the police haven’t done a terribly good job of investigating themselves.

But the cops don’t like it—particularly since Boudin has, for the first time in modern history, indicted police officers for their on-duty conduct. (A cop was charged with homicide in 1968, but he was off duty at the time.)

The first trial is going on right now.

The chief’s unilateral move, made without consultation with the commission, came just a day before the Police Officers Association had scheduled a vote of no-confidence in his leadership. That was cancelled immediately after his announcement.

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At last week’s meeting, President Malia Cohen refused to support a motion to order the chief to keep the current MOU in place until another deal could be worked out. Instead, she left the chief to negotiate with the DA and scheduled the special meeting for Wed/23.

If Boudin and Scott can’t reach an interim deal, the commission will be forced to act—either to allow the MOU to expire or to force the chief to comply with the panel’s wishes and keep it in place. It will be a huge test of the role of civilian oversight of the Police Department.

The meeting starts at 5:30pm.

The Unitarian Universalists of San Francisco are launching a new series of talks called “Dangerous Truths: Reveal the Past, Decolonize the Future,” starting Sunday/27.

The first two talks will feature “The Doctrine of Discovery” and “Critical Race Theory.” The speakers are historian Paul Magid, who will talk about the 15th Century Papal bulls that “called for non-Christian peoples to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, reduced to perpetual slavery, and to have their possessions and property seized by Christian monarchs.” That starts at 1pm.

At 2pm, retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge and law professor Angela Robinson will talk about what CRT is, why the right wing is so obsessed with it, and why the outcome matters for all of us.

The talks are free, and you can join at this zoom link.

By the way, the right wingosphere is now saying that the recall of three SF School Board members is a “rejection of the woke left.” Yeah, former Vice President Mike Pence actually said that.

Actually, no.

The election was a local vote driven largely not by anything “woke” but by parents frustrated with schools not being open during Covid and with the change in admissions policy at Lowell—and funded by very rich right-wingers who support charter schools and vouchers.

I don’t think the whole issue of renaming schools would have had much traction at all if it hadn’t happened during a global pandemic when the Teacher’s Union and the district were negotiating, at some length, the rules for brining kids back into classrooms.

The move to admit students to Lowell by lottery has been under discussion for years, and started entirely because the district couldn’t conduce the entry test because it wasn’t safe to put all the applicants together in a room.

The only national implications are that it might embolden the likes of Arthur Rock to try to attack other School Boards—not for being “woke” but for supporting public, not private, education.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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.

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