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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | LGBTI / Queer | Police State and Prisons
Opposition in SF to proposed Sit/Lie Law..
Six-minute QT movie. 14MB.
A second press conference was held on March 10th.
Sit/Lie: Bad Old Law Resurfaces by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca
Sit-Lie Dog and Pony Show
By Greg Kamin
March 2, 2010
San Francisco Supervisors David Chiu, Ross Mirkarimi, and Bevan Dufty held a hearing yesterday on a proposed sit-lie ordinance during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee. For me, the most powerful moment in over four hours of testimony was one that probably passed almost unnoticed for most people. Representatives from the police and the district attorney’s office had just finished over 100 minutes of testimony during which time they got all the time they wanted to tell the supervisors how they all thought this would be the greatest thing since sliced bread. SFPD Chief George Gascón was a no-show, but Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman was ready with a slick PowerPoint presentation (more on that later), followed by a parade of captains in full regalia whose sole purpose seemed to be to show solidarity across the SFPD, as if this was ever in doubt.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the sole city official to speak in opposition to the proposal, presented a different perspective. Barely 10 minutes later, in the interests of moving things along, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said, “You should start wrapping up because we have a lot of people who want to speak.” It was perfectly innocuous. It was said without any intended disrespect. It was just to move things along to give other people a chance to speak. That’s all.
One might chalk it up to mere coincidence that out of nearly 2 1/2 hours of official testimony, not counting public comment, the only person told to “wrap it up” was the one person who gave less than 15 minutes of testimony in opposition. No one else was told to “wrap it up” before or after his testimony. And there was testimony after, including a rebuttal of Adachi’s testimony by Cashman, at the behest of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, which lasted nearly as long as Adachi’s whole time at the podium. No one told Cashman to “wrap it up.”
I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to single out Supervisor Mirkarimi. Of the three supes in the room, he actually asked the most extensive and pertinent questions. But that one exchange is a perfect illustration of the inherent institutional deference given to law enforcement throughout all layers of government. My guess is that Mirkarimi wasn’t even aware of his subconscious bias. It simply does not occur to anyone to tell a uniformed assistant chief to “please wrap it up.” And you’ll see that same internalized institutional bias whether in the Board of Supes, the Police Commission, or a court of law. And that’s exactly why it’s so frightening to give the police a massive blank check.