It stands to reason that San Francisco police are on the defensive right now, perhaps even a little more on edge than is normal for law enforcement.
Twice this week the department has received death threats － the first, for which a suspect was arrested, was against interim Chief Toney Chaplin and made on Twitter, and the second was an anonymous caller saying he would pay for the killing of an officer. There’s nothing OK about either incident, even if they never come to fruition.
However, it’s going to be hard to win sympathy and understanding from the people you’re employed to protect when your union, along with the ones representing Oakland and San Jose police, takes out a full-page ad in the Chronicle that’s basically a giant middle finger.
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the ad － especially if you’re unfamiliar with recent San Francisco history. It asks that people acknowledge the difficult and dangerous job public safety workers do every day. But if you look closer, there’s a serious hidden message: honor us, not the people we kill.
Today, July 22, 2016, is supposed to be the first ever Mario Woods Day, which was so decreed by the Board of Supervisors in January. Woods is the man who was supposedly using a knife to threaten a bunch of cops surrounding him with their guns drawn in the Bayview District in December before he was fatally shot by said cops. It stirred a lot of debates about a lot of different things, and those debates － along with an investigation into the incident － are ongoing.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association was mad about the board’s move back in February, and apparently it still is.
Police have every right to stand up for themselves and their peers, just as Woods’ family and supporters have every right to hold a day of remembrance. It’s too bad they can’t be mutually exclusive, as this action from the police unions will only serve to further polarize police-community relations in parts of San Francisco. It’s likely police would say the same thing about Mario Woods Day, so that just leaves everyone angry and on opposite sides.
It’s also a shame that stories like the Wichita barbecue between police and Black Lives Matter are the exception. And it’s too bad that when Oakland police tried to do something similar, the idea was rejected.