Friday, April 1, 2016

April's Fools

Well appropriately it is April Fools.

What I find fascinating is that this is not Huntsville Alabama, where one would suspect and expect this kind of thing, but it is in the City by the bay. I lived in San Francisco for a decade, in the past decade the twitterfication of the City has allowed and enabled the once liberal sanctuary to turn back the blankets on the homeless that permeate the streets and in turn open a billy club to what is frankly common police behavior.

The "city" has had Police shootings which I wrote about and how that gentrification of once largely poor and/or minority neighborhoods contributed to some of the other violence and aggression as a means of handling the increasing chasm of income inequity. There have been BART shootings, beatings, and of course the infamous case of the mentally ill illegal immigrant and the status of the City being a sanctuary one that has enabled the affixing of labels as immigrants are criminals.

So do you honestly expect law enforcement to be a reflection of the legacy of San Francisco and their free love or one that is like all the rest in the United States in our increasingly angry and divisive attitude towards people who are not white and/or rich?

 Five San Francisco officers found exchanging racist, homophobic texts
 Reuters April 1 2016
 Jim Christie

The original charges were shocking enough: six San Francisco police officers were accused of stealing from suspects living in seedy residential hotels. Then federal prosecutors released racist, homophobic and ethnically insensitive email and text messages exchanged among more than a dozen officers, prompting the San Francisco district attorney to launch a wide-ranging investigation of the police department while considering dismissing up to 3,000 criminal cases involving the officers. The original charges were shocking enough: six San Francisco police officers were accused of stealing from suspects living in seedy residential hotels.

Then federal prosecutors released racist, homophobic and ethnically insensitive email and text messages exchanged among more than a dozen officers, prompting the San Francisco district attorney to launch a wide-ranging investigation of the police department while considering dismissing up to 3,000 criminal cases involving the officers. Five more San Francisco police officers have been found to be exchanging racist and homophobic text messages with one another, forcing a review of hundreds of criminal cases that may be compromised by their bias, the city's chief prosecutor said on Thursday. The disclosure by District Attorney George Gascon came a year after 14 other members of the San Francisco Police Department were caught up in a similar texting scandal.

The latest inquiry surfaced amid heightened scrutiny of police encounters with members of minority groups following numerous high-profile killings of unarmed black people by police across the United States since mid-2014. Gascon said he recommended in a letter on Wednesday to city Police Chief Gregory Suhr that the five newly implicated officers be assigned to desk duty to avoid adding to the potential caseloads tainted by personal bias exposed in their text messages.

 The dozens of racist and anti-gay texts were unearthed in a review of 5,000 pages of material turned over by police in an unrelated investigation, Gascon said in a telephone interview. With some 20,000 additional pages still to be examined, Gascon said more officers may be implicated.

 "While the majority of San Francisco Police Department officers are hardworking men and women who serve with distinction, we cannot have this kind of conduct within the criminal justice system," he said. Prosecutors have a duty to bring the bigoted texts to the attention of defense lawyers whose clients were charged in cases that were handled by the five officers and where discrimination on the basis of race or sexual orientation could be at issue, Gascon said.

 "They provide evidence of racial bias, which is impeachable evidence to the prosecution," he added. The president of the San Francisco Police Officers' Association union, Martin Halloran, condemned "the appalling racist behavior committed by a handful of officers," in a statement quoted by news media.

The conduct in question ran from 2014 to late 2015, overlapping with the time frame of last year's police texting scandal, although Gascon said there was no apparent connection between the two. The police department sought to fire seven of the original group of 14 officers, but a judge ruled against the dismissals, citing the statute of limitations.

 The previous scandal resulted in a review of 4,000 cases, including 1,600 in which charges were brought, with 13 dismissals so far, city prosecutors said. (Reporting by Jim Christie in San Francisco; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney)

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