DA calls for witness protection summit

Just days after the slaying of a San Francisco man who was in the district attorney’s witness protection program, DA Kamala Harris on Wednesday stood in front of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center — the site of another recent daytime slaying — to announce a June 16 summit of law enforcement and community leaders.

The summit, Harris said, would be the first chance to “have a conversation between the community and law enforcement about what we can collectively do about witness intimidation.”

The announcement comes on the heels of last week's killing of murder witness Terrell Rollins, 22, who was enrolled in the witness protection program. The Ella Hill Hutch Center was rocked the previous week when suspected gang members shot and killed 22-year-old employee Dante White in the gym while he played basketball with children.

Harris characterized Rollins' killers as “terrorists” and displayed a T-shirt that read “Don't Snitch,” which she said had been distributed widely throughout crime-ridden areas of The City. “There are too many people living in a state of fear,” she said.

Several civic and community leaders spoke at Wednesday's news conference, including Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who criticized law enforcement's solicitation of witnesses, calling it “deficient.”

Harris announced Monday that her department had reassigned seven investigators to the witness protection program.

San Francisco police Capt. Kevin Cashman, of the personal crimes division of the investigations bureau, said Wednesday that his department is “extremely effective in identifying and relocating witnesses,” but witnesses often “sincerely fear retaliation” and do not want to testify.

Rev. Edgar Boyd of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church invoked Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” he said. He said it is ironic that today fear keeps justice from being done in predominantly black neighborhoods made great by the ship-building boom of World War II.

London Breed, who runs the African American Art and Culture Complex in the Western Addition, said, “Our children don't feel safe.” She said law enforcement and elected officials would gain more trust in her community if they “stop worrying about who gets credit and put real, basic feeling” into solving the problem of violence.

“If we're just running our mouths, there's no substance,” she said.

amartin@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Jazz pianist and composer Jon Jang is an instructor at Community Music Center in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jon Jang composes bittersweet symphonies

Musician-activist’s works are steeped in civil rights history

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

Most Read