If not swift, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's response to the Dec. 2 police shooting death of Mario Woods was at least deliberate.
Five days after Woods — the suspect in an earlier stabbing — was shot and killed by police in the Bayview, Lee's office issued a statement in which he called the Instagrammed death “very upsetting” and declared that “Black Lives Matter.” (That expanded on comments made the day after the shooting, when he informed the San Francisco Examiner he'd seen the video and promised an investigation.) And earlier this week, in comments made to the Sun Reporter, a longstanding black newspaper, Lee said Woods' death was a “horrifying” “firing squad.”
The mayor has said much, but he has not said it to one person: Gwendolyn Woods, Mario Woods' mother. Over two months after the shooting, Lee has yet to meet or speak to Gwendolyn Woods directly, her attorney confirmed Wednesday.
There was a meeting scheduled, but according to attorney Adante Pointer, after being presented with “rules and stipulations” for the meeting by the mayor's office, Gwendolyn Woods declined.
[jump] This has been a sore point with supporters of the Woods family and activists in Bayview Hunters Point for at least a month. The issue was brought up directly to the mayor by Shawn Richard, a Bayview activist who has acted as a spokesman for the Woods family, during a meeting about a month after the shooting.
In the video, recorded on Jan. 7, you can hear Lee defend himself and insist that statements made to the media were made to Woods' mother as well.
“I thought I expressed my personal empathy for what had happened,” the mayor said. “I did it the day after… and I was speaking to her.”
“Wow,” muttered an unidentified woman recording the encounter.
Following this, the mayor's office did attempt to schedule an in-person meeting with Gwendolyn Woods, who, while living near Sacramento and still holding down a job, makes it to San Francisco regularly (as she did at the Board of Supervisors, when the Board voted July 22 “Mario Woods Remembrance Day.”)
But according to Pointer, the meeting came with “red tape.”
“After Shawn said that in public, the mayor's office made some moves and set up a meeting,” he said, “but it came with a ton of stipulations and legalese… similar” to a contract.
Keep in mind that the city is involved in active litigation with Gwendolyn Woods, on whose behalf attorney John Burris filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the police department.
In a brief statement emailed to SF Weekly, mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said that nothing like a “contract” was required for the meeting, and that the mayor is open to sitting down with Mrs. Woods at any time.
“The mayor has offered to meet with Mrs. Woods and that is an open invitation,” she wrote. “It is not correct that Mrs. Woods was required to sign anything in order to sit down with the mayor. Mayor Lee continues to send his heartfelt condolences and support to Mrs. Woods and her family.”
But at this point, it may be too late. It's over two months on, and not so much as a phone call has come from Lee's office to Gwendolyn Woods, said Pointer, who said that his client may no longer be interested in what Lee has to say.
“It's almost an empty apology, in some regard,” he said. “In order for it to have been sincere, it needed to have been done at the outset. Now there's just too much water under the bridge.”