Mike Koozmin/SF ExaminerProtesters shut down San Francisco's City Hall

Black Lives Matter protesters take over SF City Hall

City Hall was bombarded with hundreds of protesters Tuesday afternoon denouncing racism in San Francisco while disrupting the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The protest was part of the Black Lives Matter movement that last year gained widespread attention following the deaths of two unarmed black men at the hands of police. Actions Tuesday took place across the country.

More recently in San Francisco, a scandal erupted in the Police Department over racist and homophobic text messages exchanged between officers. The department has recommended that those officers be terminated.

In The City on Tuesday, the supervisors’ meeting was temporarily adjourned by board President London Breed, who is black. That angered protesters, who shouted down supervisors, saying their concerns are ignored by city officials.

“Shame on you! Shame on you!” the protesters chanted as Breed walked out of the Legislative Chamber. Simultaneously, another hundred or so protesters, many appearing to be high school aged, filled the entrance to City Hall, dancing and singing as more than 20 sheriff’s deputies watched. Deputies provide security at the building.

Kimalah Laguerre was one protester who shouted down deputies and supervisors. A 32-year-old restaurant worker who lives in the Tenderloin, she said that as a black woman she was disappointed to see Breed walk out on the protest.

“My black, female supervisor walks out on me?” she said. “Are you kidding me?”

Breed said she recessed the meeting because “we could not conduct business,” she told The Examiner.

“I watched everything the protesters said on SFgov TV in my office,” she said, “but I can't stay at the dais as if we are in session when the meeting is in fact in recess.”

The protest was planned in coordination with actions across the Bay Area and nation, aiming to draw attention to what organizers say is widespread police brutality, disparities in education and poverty in black communities.

“San Francisco, you say you’re not Ferguson, but we say you are,” protester Phelicia Jones shouted from the steps of City Hall earlier Tuesday. She was referencing the Missouri town where Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man, was fatally shot by police last year.

Numerous speakers brought up the bigoted text messages exchanged between San Francisco police officers that were made public earlier this year. Many contained hateful messages about black and gay people.

At a podium outside City Hall, Roberto Hernandez, a longtime San Francisco activist, decried the gentrification of the Mission, saying the newer white residents are treated better by police in the historically Latino neighborhood.

Protesters also seized on The City’s housing crisis.

“I’m black and I’m getting evicted,” Laguerre said later. City officials and their policies are “pushing everybody out. They don’t listen to us. I am ready to explode. I’m ready to steal someone’s fucking iPhone.”

One protester asked, “How can we hold [supervisors] accountable if they’re in the pocket of the police union?”

The comment was in reference to a Board of Supervisors resolution addressing nationwide concerns over police brutality that was eventually sent to committee, but not before the police union sent threatening and angry emails to several supervisors, including Malia Cohen, who is black, over language in the resolution.

A litany of complaints were repeated throughout Tuesday’s demonstrations, including the fatal police shooting of Alex Nieto in Bernal Heights last year.

In 2013, Breed herself addressed diversity in The City, saying San Francisco cannot call itself “diverse” until The City once again has a thriving population of black residents.

The black population was 78,931 in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but declined to 50,768 by 2010. That comprised 6.3 percent of the 805,235 total population.

“I hope that they see us. I am in this building often. I email these people often. I sit down with these people often. Still nothing changes. It’s not a feeling, it’s a fact,” said Brittany Moore, who lives in Cohen’s District 10. Median income of black households in San Francisco is $30,840, whereas it exceeds $50,000 for all other racial groups, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And while black residents comprise less than 10 percent of The City's population, they made up 56 percent of the 1,541 jail inmates in 2012, according to city officials.

Deputy Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said no protesters were detained Tuesday at City Hall and no injuries were reported.

Live social media coverage of the #BlackLivesMatter protest that stormed City Hall today:

Bay Area NewsBlack Lives MatterPolice brutalitySF

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