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San Francisco | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice

Racial Harssment & Arrest in Bernal Heights Today
by Local Citizen
Friday Jan 4th, 2013 5:50 PM
Two African-American men arrested for using the Bank of America on Cortland Ave.
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At approximately 4 o' clock today I was passing by my local Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights. There were two African American youth speaking a cop outside and so I went over to take a look at what was going. I was especially worried since I know this neighborhood can be especially hostile to people of color through my past experiences.

The cop was fairly calm at first and asked nicely if he could 'frisk' them. They agreed since they seem to know they committed no crime and that racial profiling was occurring. They consented to a full search and asked to see the officer's badge number because they were going to make a complaint-- something you don't see very often coming from someone about to get arrested.

While I was recording, one of the young men (who said his name was Frank Harris I believe), said he had gone into the bank to charge his phone. He also said something about is other friend, a young Filipino coming out of the bank now, was checking his bank account. The two African-American men where then asked to stand against the wall.

The cop manhandled them abit and the other African-American youth (I didn't get his name) really had had enough. He cussed at the cop and said things like "you know who [police chiefs name] is? Thats my fucking uncle." He was venting with words, no weapons, no threats. But the cop decided to make it physical, grabbing his arm and pushing him against the wall. You can see this all in the video as I kept saying "be cool, be cool." But who could blame him? As Frank said in the video, "Black man can't even use the bank in this town." How many times have these kids been harassed and rough-housed for their skin color? After a while I would vent and cuss at police too.

With the cuss words, the cop called for backup (having two unarmed black men being a serious threat and all), and two cop cars, one undercover, came speeding like a bat out of hell down Cortland ave. As far as I'm concerned, that was a lot bigger threat to the community. There are many crosswalks here and a senior center one block up. The cop cars also blocked all traffic down one lane on Cortland ave. for some time.

After 3 more cops came up to help stop this horrible criminal activity of charging the cell phone, one of them started interrogating the Filipino, who said his name was Armando. He was peeved, but keeping his cool at least. The cop asked him his phone number, ID, etc. etc. Armando asked if he needed his bag searched too and the cop said, "I'm asking the questions here." The cop told tArmando they were responding to a bank robbery call, which is (as you can tell from the video) an incredible lie. My guess is they will stick to that lie because they have nothing else. If it was a robbery, why did he call for backup only AFTER questioning, frisking, and starting the arrest?

Around this point a man began actively blocking my camera. You can see me talking to him in the third video. I don't know if he was one of the undercover cops, or just a local racist, but it was disturbing. Why would you want to obstruct someone simply documenting evidence?

See the videos and make your own opinion. I for one have used this bank for years and have seen an African-American in there maybe once or twice. Now I know why Bernal stays so white. Sure, they had baggy pants, talked differently, and even used some swear words. That doesnt give police the right to rough them up and throw them in jail.

§In Handcuffs
by Local Citizen Friday Jan 4th, 2013 5:50 PM
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§Questions & Blocking Camera
by Local Citizen Friday Jan 4th, 2013 5:50 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by VonManstein
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 12:37 AM
He went into the bank to charge his phone? Who the fuck is dumb enough to believe that?
by Than your words
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 8:19 AM
Reading your description, and then watching the video, I see two different stories.

Your words describe two calm young men being harassed until they snap.

But the video shows an immediately agitated young man calling the officer a "fat fuck".....and off we go.

Sorry bro; but your viewpoint has warped your perception of what really happened. Watch it again. I don't care what color a person is; you bounce around like that and curse a cop....the backup is getting called.
by Video 3
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 8:22 AM
So I kept watching/listening, and in the third video I hear the cop say he was called about a potential robbery.

Keep it real man. Your premise is b.s. This isn't a cop randomly harassing a couple of black youth...it's a cop responding to a robbery call who encounters a jacked up potential suspect calling him a fat fuck. Way different reality than your proposing.
by STrike 3 yer out
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 8:25 AM
The only racism I see is your desire to see racism.
by deanosor
( deanosor [at] mailup.net ) Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 10:23 AM
Even if there was a robbery, which is kind of doubtful (cops lie all the time), the fact that the only people stopped were these African-Americans shows one level of racism. I would not go into a B. of A. to charge my phone, but you must under the law and logic give people the benefit of the doubt. It is not illegal for someone to call a police officer a name. it is protected free speech. Back up was totally unnecessary and unwarranted and possibly illegal.
by mlyon01
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 10:47 AM
Re: "The only racism I see is your desire to see racism." Mayor Ed Lee wanted Stop and Frisk in SF, a program that in NYC profiled hundreds of thousands of blacks and Latins, only 2% had any reason to be stopped. SF Police sweeps of MUNI buses for fare evaders happened only in Bayview and the Mission. There's plenty of reason to see racism in SF. "STrike 3 yer out" says it all: mass incarceration of black and Latin youth. I know that Bank of America is supposed to be cool and all, but I do wonder why they called the cops about a potential bank robbery when two young black men enter. I say this is about the gentrification of SF.
by atman
Saturday Jan 5th, 2013 12:06 PM
cops have stopped person 100 times in ten years, not even driving a car! just walking whiole mixed race.
by Nathaniel
Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 7:48 PM
The kids had a conflict with bank management and mouthed off words like, "we oughta rob this bank." The bank called SFPD. The officer did his job, checked out the situation and dealt a difficult situation.
by Local Citizen
Friday Jan 11th, 2013 4:28 PM
mlyon01 got it right, this is a component of the larger issue of gentrification. But lets look into this a little more shall we?

There are some big problems with the attempted (or even verbally threatened) bank robbery storyline:

1) why is ONE cop responding to a bank robbery? The first video was taken after watching things develop for quite a few minutes and the beginning of the video shows the cop calling for backup. SFPD would never send ONE cop to investigate a bank robbery (threat or actual event) in a affluent neighborhood like this. The cop calls for backup only AFTER he gets cussed at, because hes a coward and a wimp. As above poster mentioned, cussing at a cop is 1st amendment free speech. I wouldnt recommend doing it, but that doesnt mean you go to jail for it. This isnt Nazi Germany.

2) who robs a bank with NO weapons?

3) why would the people getting arrested want me to be recording them and ASK for the Bank of America surveillance footage if they were threatening to rob a bank??


Think about it. When people get caught doing illegal wrong things, they dont say I want you to make sure you have all the video footage. They DO say that when police injustice occurs, when Oscar Grant and Charles Hill and so many others are killed and/or beaten by violent and racist police.


And just for kicks and giggles lets say they did mouth off awful things like that in a bank. The cop would have taken things WAY more seriously than he was when I got there. He was doing a routine pat down and detaining them-- not even arresting them. Moreover, when they were being questioned (and their friend) no one ever once asked them "did you threaten to rob this bank" or anything like that. It was all routine name, phone number, etc etc. That story is complete BS.

Of course this all looks very bad for BofA and SFPD so Im sure stories like this will continue to surface.

This is SF gentrification in progress. Bernal Library used to have a giant multi-racial and multi-cultural mural that was painted over recently. I was there Chileans were speaking out and the affluent white passerbys couldnt be bothered. This used to be a heavily diverse neighborhood. So was the Fillmore, Portrero Hill, SOMA, etc etc. These are the events, small and many, that make sure people of color are removed from these neighborhoods. Get the facts and speak out. SF is a great city and everyone should be welcomed in it, regardless of race, class, gender, etc. If a white middle-class person was charging their phone while their friend cashed a check you know this would have been a very different event.