Hundreds of protesters gathered Monday on front of the steps of San Francisco City Hall, demanding “consequences and repercussions” for the police who killed George Floyd.
The protest, organized by a group that fights for local victims of police shootings called Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community, was unlike the grass-roots marches that took over the city’s streets on Saturday and Sunday, during which residents joined together to demand justice for Floyd.
Flanked by images of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and Floyd, along with signs that read “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the Police Chief William Scott joined organizers to address protesters and pledged to change the way black people are treated by the police in the city.
“I’m the mayor but I’m a black woman first,” Breed said. “I am angry. I am hurt. I am frustrated. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I don’t want one more black man to die at the hands of law enforcement. That’s what this movement is about. Not one more.”
Breed’s speech comes just a day after she set an 8 p.m. curfew for the city in response to looting that took place after a peaceful protest Saturday. The curfew remains in effect.
There are people “who are using these movement as a way to push violence, to go after other black people to push us down,” Breed said. “We will not tolerate that. Don’t get it twisted.”
The organizers — including entertainer Felicia Jones and the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP — applauded Breed and joined her in calling for peaceful protests.
“I did not want this protest” to end in violence, Jones said. “We are here to mourn, we are here to listen to music — because music soothes our soul — and to let you know social justice is real.”
But some of those who spoke alongside Jones and Breed said peaceful protests alone aren’t always effective in creating change.
“History shows us that there can be nonviolent protest but there has to be people in the streets,” civil rights attorney Adante Pointer said.
“Whether you’re looking at the Boston Tea Party, you’re looking at Harpers Ferry, there were clashes that took place that sparked the change, the revolution, the progression of this country,” Pointer told The Times. “For us to ignore that is not to be honest with ourselves as it relates to what it takes to wrestle inequality, justice and power from those who will do everything they can to keep it from us.”
After several speakers led the crowd in chants for “consequences and repercussions” for police officers and “Black Lives Matter,” Jones introduced Chief Scott and asked the crowd to treat him with respect.
“As your police chief, we know that too many black men are being killed at the hands of police,” Scott said. “When I pull off this uniform, I am a black man.”
His words were met with scattered applause and jeers from some protesters. One called London a joke.
Organizers began chanting “peace” to quiet the shouts. Soon after, a woman named Kia Hapoy began questioning Scott. “I understand you’re a black man, but as the chief of police what are you going to do to make a difference?” Hapoy yelled.
“The San Francisco Police Department is not a perfect department, we have our faults,” Scott responded. “But I’ll tell you this, we are committed to change. That’s why I was brought here and that’s what I came here to do…. There are many other people in the Police Department that are committed to change.”
Hapoy, a Sacramento resident, told The Times his response wasn’t enough: She wants to see action and have the department commit to a zero tolerance policy for racism. “You’re a black man in a police uniform in a high-ranking place,” Hapoy said. “You’re in a perfect position to do something.”
Other speakers also called for action, both from regulators and from those who showed up to protest.
“I’m tired of the same mantra and the same narrative,” county Supervisor Shamann Walton said. “So unless we begin to prosecute and incarcerate law enforcement for killing innocent black lives, we will continue to rise up.”
After leading the crowd in a kneel-in in honor of Floyd, actor Jamie Foxx called on his friends and other celebrities to take action.
“What I want to say about my Hollywood friends, you’ve got to get out here,” Foxx said. “You’ve got to come out here, you can’t sit back, you can’t tweet, you can’t text, you’ve got to get out here.”
“When you’re here and you see how people are hurting, you can understand,” he said.