People hold signs at a rally at Mission High School before a protest march commemorating George Floyd and those killed by police on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF police stations ordered to hang ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs over union objections

San Francisco’s Police Commission ordered all district stations to prominently display “Black Lives Matter” signs Wednesday despite opposition from the rank-and-file officers union.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve a resolution from Commissioner Dion-Jay Brookter requiring the posters be put up at each station, over objections from the San Francisco Police Officers Association.

An SFPOA attorney sent a letter ahead of the meeting supporting the notion that Black lives matter but expressing “serious” concerns that the signs would inject politics and “wedge issues” into the “safe harbor” of police stations.

Commission Vice President Damali Taylor called the SFPOA’s argument “absolute horseshit.”

“To me it is really concerning,” Taylor said. “If you have such a visceral reaction to a poster that says ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I want you to search your heart.”

Commissioner Cindy Elias said the resolution was a “step in the right direction” but urged her colleagues to do more.

“More importantly, what we should be doing is making a commitment to each other as commissioners and to the public that we start creating policies that actually save Black lives and people of color,” Elias said.

In response, SFPOA President Tony Montoya issued a statement Thursday blasting the commissioners.

“The Police Commission should put away their soapboxes and stop their political grandstanding,” Montoya said.

He noted that not all officers have received Crisis-Intervention Training, that car break-ins remain “rampant” and that homicides are up under the leadership of the commission.

“It’s time for the commissioners to get beyond hashtags, posters and politics because our community is depending on them and all of us to make San Francisco a safer place for everyone,” Montoya said.

At the meeting, Chief Bill Scott said the San Francisco Police Department was “fully committed” to the resolution.

“Black lives do matter and they matter to this Police Department,” Scott said. “This is not at the expense or in lieu of anybody else’s life. That’s not what this is about.”

The resolution was also supported by Officers For Justice, an association representing Black officers in San Francisco.

“It is imperative that the sworn members of this department ensure that they are going to deliver what is expected to the Black community and this is not just lip service,” said acting Capt. Yulanda Williams, president of OFJ.

Williams noted that she left the SFPOA because the union has not represented her interests as a Black woman.

All police stations will be required to post the signs, which are 32 by 24 inches, within 30 days under the resolution.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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