A Black Lives Matter march in San Francisco on Friday protesting police brutality paused to confront police during a standoff with a man armed with a metal pipe.
The protesters began their rally Friday afternoon at Duboce Park and made a stop at the Mission Police Station, holding placards that read “Black Lives Matter,“ “Abolish the Police,” and “No Justice No Peace.”
As the protesters left the Mission Police Station, they encountered a standoff between police officers and a man on 18th Street and San Carlos streets. Instead of heading towards Dolores Park as they had planned, many of the protesters arrived near the scene.
“Let him go,” the protesters yelled as they stood behind the police barricade tape, demanding social workers to resolve the situation. The protesters then observed the scene quietly to prevent further distressing the man.
Officers had responded to the incident earlier that day at about 11:34 a.m.. Police said the man with a metal bar refused to drop it and made threatening statements. As officers determined that he was suffering from a mental health crisis, police said, the SFPD crisis negotiation team began talking to the man.
After a nearly eight-hour standoff, officers took the man into custody without injury.
One staffer from the Department of Public Health had been present at the scene and a DPH clinical psychologist and crisis intervention specialist arrived later, accompanying the man to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation, SFChronicle reported.
The protesters had first gathered at Duboce Park earlier that afternoon and planned to march to Dolores Park. Maryann Jenkins, 30, a co-organizer of the rally said she was inspired by the young protesters who organized the march to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s house last month and demanded that the city defund the police.
“We’re fighting for what we’re witnessing, which is a lot of unnecessary police brutality, especially with what’s going on in Portland,” she added, referring to federal law enforcement officers recently deployed in Portland, Oregon.
Among those who called to defund the police was Christian Barnes, 22, a resident of San Francisco, who echoed the sentiments of others across the nation since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.
“We wake up every morning hearing about the same old thing: The police taking down the good people of the community,” Barnes said.
“What we are here to do is to uplift everyone’s spirit by marching and cheering on what we feel is right for this community … Police brutality has been around for as many years as we can count and they haven’t learned a damn thing,” he added.
Co-organizer of the rally Elio Ervin, 31, spoke to the crowd at Duboce Park, paying homage to Floyd and Breanna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, along with Iyanna Dior, a trans woman brutally attacked by a group of men in Minnesota.
“Let’s continue standing up and speaking for each and every one of them,” Ervin said.
San Francisco resident Charles Nelson, 57, criticized the system of mass incarceration of Black people as he said many struggle to adapt to life after spending time behind bars.
“If the institution of incarceration was in fact to rehabilitate people, once you leave the system, then you would be able to rebuild your life as a productive citizen of the United States of America,” Nelson said. “That doesn’t happen. It’s the new Jim Crow.”
Since the killing of Floyd in May, a number of protests have taken place in San Francisco. Protesters also rallied at City Hall Monday in a union-led protest supporting Black lives and speaking out against the widening inequalities during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, some people celebrated Fourth of July by marching for affirmative action and rallying against police brutality. And protesters rallied across The City to mark the Juneteenth holiday, a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Nester Reyes, a 28-year old co-organizer of the rally, urged people in an interview with The Examiner to read “How To Be An Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi, along with books by female Black authors like Audre Lorde or Gloria Jean Watkins, also known as bell hooks.
“San Francisco can be a huge influence in how things change throughout the whole country. It’s because not only do we have the numbers,” Reyes said. “but we also have the open-mindedness and education to respect all people for who they are and where they come from, [and] to understand that we live in a nation that can be free without any borders.”