San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) is known both locally, and nationally for killing unarmed people of color. Discourse about arming SFPD with tasers has been filled with persistent battles between affected communities and SFPD for the past 13 years. Despite decades of protests, the San Francisco police association has written an initiative to arm San Francisco police with tasers. This initiative is Proposition H, which will be put on the ballot in the June election. San Francisco voters must be informed of the facts about tasers and the truths about the brutality of the San Francisco Police Department to understand the potential danger of San Francisco police officers with tasers. There are many myths on the subject of tasers. One myth is that tasers are not lethal, that they are a safer alternative weapon police can use. But Tasers, a brand of electroshock weapons, are known internationally to be lethal if used on a person. During roughly a 10 year period, Amnesty International collected data saying in the United States at least 500 people died during arrest or while already incarcerated from lethal use of an electroshock weapon (taser), and 90% of those victims were unarmed. This is disproportionately puts homeless people at risk, as individuals with mental health problems or individuals who use substances have a higher chance of dying from exposure to electroshock weapons. This is extremely relevant to the residents of San Francisco in voting for policies that will shape the way police are permitted to respond to complaint calls about homeless people..
In order to support SFPD acquiring tasers, one must first support the San Francisco Police Department. SFPD have harassed our communities for decades, but in the recent deaths of Luis Góngora Pat, Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Jessica Williams, and most recently, a 19 year old Jesus Delgado-Duarte, we are able to list specific incidents of San Francisco police using excessive force resulting in the unnecessary deaths of black and brown people. How can the residents of San Francisco trust a police department who has a history of using excessive force in murdering the people in our communities? SFPD does not need to be further armed. They do not need another weapon in their arsenal to harass and kill us with. What SFPD needs is to be disarmed.
There are no “safe” weapons that could be used by an organization with a history of such systematic violence and use of excessive force, such as SFPD. Voting against Proposition H will keep tasers out of the already militarized arsenal of San Francisco police, which will keep lower income, and homeless communities safer from police violence.