Blowing off steam....in San Francisco
Over 30 San Francisco Police Department officers face suspensions for videos made while onduty, depicting stereotypes that city officials and community members have said are racist, sexist and homophobic.
Amazingly, or not, the only people who appear unsurprised by the content of these videos, are the community members of Bayview. But then again, the videos have just been depicting what they knew to be there all along. It may be(or not) news to the politicians, but not to them.
Mayor Gavin Newsome criticized the videos as being racist, sexist and homophobic. Not surprisingly, the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Bayview were outraged by them, including one scene where a Black homeless woman was run over by a squad car. Outraged, but again not surprised.
Bayview residents reacted angrily to the videos. Newsom has promised widespread department reforms.
On Friday, after learning that other insensitive videos had been made public, Newsom renewed his criticism of officers who, he says, "just fail to get it."
No, Mayor Newsom, it is you who doesn't "get it".
"A small group of officers made a video on city time when they should have been out fighting crime. They used city resources to make a parody they insist is benign, but which at worst is racist and sexist and outrageously offensive to this community.
--- Mayor Newsome
The police union president apologized for the scandal, abeit with the usual caveat attached: The neighborhood made us do it.
Gary Delagnes, president of the 2,200-member San Francisco Police Officers Assn., said the videos should never have been made. "It's an embarrassment to the department and the officers involved," he said. "We're wrong, and we have to take our medicine."
Before you get too excited by that "apology", here comes the caveat:
But Delagnes said that the videos were made by officers in stressful jobs who wanted to blow off steam.
"The precinct where they work is the Iraq of the city of San Francisco," he said. "They are outgunned and outmanned, and just a year ago one of their numbers was murdered.
"And so a bunch of officers, white, black, Asian, women and gay, got together and made a video they thought was going to be shown at their captain's retirement dinner. It was their way of dealing with the futility of their jobs."
By engaging in racist, sexist and homophobic stereotyping for entertainment purposes? The officers chose to engage in this behavior because of who they are, not what they do. After all, the majority of SFPD officers had nothing to do with making these particular videos.
The Bayview community's response:
On Friday, Milton Williams, head pastor at Bayview Baptist Church for 23 years, met at City Hall with other religious leaders to discuss how to handle rising anger over the videos. He said he was stumped about the sermon he would deliver Sunday.
"There is an incredible amount of anger out there," Williams said. "Some people are surprised and outraged. But I've heard from people who say, 'I'm not shocked at all. This is the kind of behavior I've seen for years.' "
At the meeting, which included priests, ministers, rabbis, Franciscan friars and Buddhist monks, one cleric said the city "cannot stomach a bunch of cops gone wild." Another called for the officers involved to be fired.
But Williams said he was going to call for calm from the pulpit. "We shouldn't be about pointing fingers."
San Francisco PD films videos to "blow off steam"