Organizers Demand Reductions in Officers, Funding in S.F. Law Enforcement

Courtesy Alex Karim

Defund SFPD Now organizer Alex Karim

At a march planned for Thursday evening in San Francisco, activists say they will demand that the Board of Supervisors put forward a budget with deep enough cuts to the city’s police and sheriff departments to reduce the number of officers in the city by 200. The demonstration comes as protest against police brutality and racism around the country surge again after Kenosha, Wis. officers shot and severely injured Jacob Blake. The fallout of nationwide systemic racism and disproportionate law enforcement against Black people is evident in San Francisco as well, said Defund SFPD Now organizer Alex Karim.

“There’s a lot of days where the only other Black people I see are homeless people, and people who are just struggling,” she said. “It just hurts, right? It hurts to see that. It hurts to see people say that Black lives matter, but not actually practice it.”

The San Francisco police department’s use-of-force data show officers use force disproportionately against Black and Latino people. In 2019, some 45% of the times police recorded a use of force, it was against a Black person, a group that makes up only around 6% of the city’s population. The number of officers should be reduced and the department defunded, Karim said, in order to reduce these dangerous interactions between officers and residents.

“The Black community as a whole, we have been subjected to undue trauma, since the slave ships first arrived in this country,” she said. “I think it’s incomplete to have a reparations project or initiative that doesn’t recognize that defunding policing as a whole is a key component to healing that harm and addressing that trauma.”

At the march, Karim said activists will be honoring victims and survivors of police violence, asking for residents to call on legislators to reduce police funding and providing an opportunity for demonstrators to make statements. The group’s specific demands include a budget that reduces the number of officers in the city by 200, and an increase to the $120 million the mayor has proposed to reallocate from the police department to community groups.

A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.