SAN FRANCISCO – “Fire Chief Suhr! Independent Investigation! And charge these cops with murder!” Activists’ demands rang out on Jan. 8 as over one hundred demonstrators rallied at San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s inauguration at City Hall to demand justice for Mario Woods and an end to police brutality.
The Justice for Mario Woods coalition, a grouping of over 40 activists and community and labor organizations in the the Bay area, organized the event, initially intended to take place inside City Hall, using the mayor’s inauguration to shed light on police brutality in the city.
Although the coalition members were escorted out of the inauguration itself, they took their chants and demands to the front of the government building where they spoke to members of the press. (story continues after video)
The coalition was established in order to seek justice in the Mario Woods case. Woods was a 26-year-old African American man who was fatally shot by San Francisco police officers on Dec. 2, 2015 in the predominantly black Bayview neighborhood. The investigation into his death is ongoing, as the five officers involved are currently on administrative leave.
Phelicia Jones, a member of SEIU local 1021, and one of the leaders of the coalition, said,”enough is enough,”addingthat the murders of young black and brown people was reminiscent of the lynchings of decades ago, such as Emmett Till. Jones made a point to say that she, along with leader Christopher Muhammad (who was not present at the rally), and others, was urging political leaders to meet with the people in order to make real change.
The coalition, which meets every Thursday, is currently holding what it calls “tribunals,” where coalition membersinvite city officials to meet with them. Jones pointed out that the District Attorney of San Francisco, George Gascón, has already met with the tribunal, along with San Francisco Board of Supervisors member David Campos. Jones emphasized that the coalition would not be intimidated, in responseto a question about the San Francisco Police Officers Association (the police union in San Francisco) possibly opposing their demands. YayneAbeba, a member of the coalition, emphasized that the fight for justice was not “just one day, not a sprint, but a marathon.”
The coalition is organizing a march for January 18th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, at the Frank H. Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland, and urged people from all across the Bay Area to come out and join together.
You can find the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/justice4mariowoodscoalition/?fref=ts.
Photo: Chauncey K. Robinson/PW