George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Erik Salgado was killed and his girlfriend shot in Oakland this past weekend, while last week, San Francisco resident Sean Monterrosa was killed in Vallejo. This month has been a powerful reminder of what happens without police accountability.
Nancy Tung and Geoffrey Gordon-Creed were nominated by Mayor London Breed to fill two seats on the Police Commission. These seats must be approved by the Board of Supervisors; frequently it is a rubber stamp process, but because protest works, these appointments are being challenged. Now, more than ever, we need independent commissioners who will hold police officers accountable, who do not have a long-standing, cozy relationship with the police, who will advocate for policies that will protect all vulnerable communities and decrease use of force, not drive it up further.
At the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing on the appointments, hundreds of people testified in opposition, and sprinkled among opponents were some supporters. People waited up to seven hours to speak. Tomorrow, the full board will vote on these appointments to either accept or reject. If they reject, the Mayor will have to find new candidates.
The first nomination is Nancy Tung who ran for District Attorney on a conserviative platform. During her campaign last year and today, Nancy Tung argued all recent SFPD shootings have been legally justified and opposed prosecuting and firing police officers who were involved in shootings of San Francisco residents. She also pushed during her campaign to prosecute homeless people for the crimes of being poor, supporting the criminalization of homeless people. Few people of any political stripe with any knowledge on the issues believe criminalization is an effective means to address homelessness.
She supports giving Tasers to San Francisco police officers when “there is more trust”, even though Tasers have been shown to increase use of force and deaths. In 2018, Nancy Tung supported Prop. H, which would have neutered the commission she seeks to serve on, by stripping the Police Commission of the power to oversee the Taser Use of Force policy. One UCSF study of California police and sheriff departments found the rate of in-custody sudden deaths involving non-lethal force increased 640% in the first full year of Taser deployment compared with the previous year. This put her squarely to the right of Chief William Scott, who opposed the measure along with the Mayor. Tasers would worsen relations with communities of color and vulnerable groups such as homeless people and mentally ill people, upon whom Tasers would be disproportionately used.
Nancy Tung also opposes closing San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall, an appalling institution where children have been abused for decades. The U.S. Department of Justice investigation of San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall found frequent arbitrary use of solitary confinement to punish children, and denying bathroom access, and refusing to let kids use phones to contact their families for weeks or even months. It costs the city $266,000 per year to house a child in a cage. Restorative justice diversion costs only $10,000. The recidivism rate for the juvenile legal system is 53%, while it’s just 13% for those going through restorative justice diversion. Caging children isn’t just inhumane and expensive, it also doesn’t work. It’s unconscionable that Nancy Tung would want this facility to remain open, in any form.
Nancy Tung received funding for her campaign early last year from police officers and the polarizing and conservative SF Police Officers Association. In her campaign for DA she accepted a contribution from the POA, the same police “union” that has defended officers who made racist jokes and shot innocent people. Tung even accepted $800 from three officers — Ryan Crosby, Ronald Liberta and Britt Elmore — who got the City sued for the extreme racist and sexist behavior they demonstrated against African-Americans in the Tenderloin. Tung said she donated $500 to the Rafiki Coalition to make up for the POA contribution. This is not about one contribution. This is about a pattern of behavior: The POA is a far-right organization that has condoned acts of police violence and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars disseminating racist fear-mongering ads during the recent District Attorney race.
Nancy Tung is on the Board of Directors of “Stop Crime SF,” a group with close relationships to the SFPD that pushes for stricter laws and harsher criminal punishments. To give you an idea of Stop Crime SF, they oppose criminal reform efforts and advocate to roll back initiatives like Prop 47, which lowered penalties for minor offenses. The group also serves as a PR vehicle for the SFPD, even embedding SFPD station Twitter feeds on their website. Stop Crime SF regularly complains that criminal justice reforms “tie the hands” of law enforcement. Nancy Tung’s support for harsher punishments and mass incarceration runs counter to San Francisco values. The Police Commission does not need a member who believes we need to roll back the meager reforms our communities fought to enact.
All right, so just to sum it up, Nancy Tung has worked hand in hand with police departments for decades, and her positions and background show she cannot provide neutral citizen oversight of law enforcement.
Geoffrey Gordon-Creed is unqualified for the position given his history of defending officers and his lack of experience engaging with criminal justice issues or with communities impacted by policing. During his hearing, it became clear that he has never worked to reform the police department, had no positions on important issues such as Tasers and Prop 47, and in fact did not seem to have done his homework on these issues, stating he would wait and hear the information. We don’t have much to go on — given he hasn’t done any work on these issues, he has no public record, and did not give much in terms of where he stands going forward. But that alone is a problem. If Minneapolis can move to defund its police force entirely, maybe we can dream a little and get a movement leader onto the Police Commission, alongside family members of someone who has lost their life at the hands of police. Can’t we get someone that is deeply committed to halting police abuse? Now is the time to have strong representation on the Commission. Call your Supervisors and let them know!
Please call and email your supervisors (~10 second clickable link below) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, but before the Board Meeting at 2:00 on Tuesday June 9.
Here are talking points and the numbers to make phone calls & leave voicemails. The Supervisors are listed in order of calling priority:
- Sandra Lee Fewer (highest priority swing vote): (415) 554-7410
- Aaron Peskin (high priority): (415) 554-7450
- Gordon Mar: (415) 554-7460
- Norman Yee: (415) 554-6516
- Shamann Walton: (415) 554-7670
- Ahsha Safai: (415) 554-6975
- Rafael Mandelman: (415)-554-6968
- Matt Haney: (415)-554-7970
- Hilary Ronen: (415) 554-5144
- Dean Preston: 415-554-7630
Catherine Stefani: (415) 554-7752