Gabrielle Lurie/Special to the S.f. ExaminerThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted not to take an official stand in support of nationwide protests

Amid police criticism, supervisors back off resolution supporting protests

Protests have erupted around the nation in reaction to the killings of black men by police and the failure of grand juries to indict the officers responsible. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City have drawn calls for solidarity to stand up against police violence and acknowledge racism in society.

But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors decided not to take an official stand in support of the nationwide movement, even as Michael Brown Sr., the father of the Ferguson victim, had paid a visit to San Francisco.

“That's all we're doing, is standing up for our rights,” Brown said Sunday to those gathered at the Third Baptist Church.

Supervisor John Avalos had introduced the resolution in support of the protests, calling for a “commitment to equal justice.”

But the language angered the Police Officers Association, whose leadership said it contained “disparaging remarks” painting some police as “as being either racist or trigger happy.”

Avalos, however, said the symbolic resolution does no such thing. Even after amending the language to soften its tone, Avalos still faced resistance from his colleagues. He could only gain support from supervisors Eric Mar, Jane Kim and David Campos. Campos said improvement won't happen “unless we are actually acknowledging there is a need for that work.” Avalos and his three supporters refused to make additional changes.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, for example, wanted to eliminate any reference of Alex Nieto, a Latino man killed by police officers March 21 when he was shot at least 10 times. An investigation is ongoing and the names of officers involved have yet to be released.

“We are not Ferguson,” said Supervisor London Breed, who spoke of having a strong relationship with local police officers. “I am not comfortable with a comparison of our local law enforcement to what's happening in Ferguson.”

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