SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC DEFENDERS HELD A DEMONSTRATION IN UNITY WITH PUBLIC DEFENDERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CALLING FOR RACIAL JUSTICE AND AN END TO POLICE BRUTALITY

SAN FRANCISCO – On Monday, June 8, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office held a demonstration to speak out against a system that has failed to hold police accountable for violence against our communities. This was part of a nationwide day of solidarity where at least 70 public defender offices held independent demonstrations for racial justice in unity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The  San Francisco demonstration was organized by the Racial Justice Committee of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and took place on the steps of the San Francisco Hall of Justice. The hour-long demonstration included speakers from the office and the community, followed by a demonstration where public defenders laid down or took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to commemorate the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him. Demonstrators held signs with pictures of people who have been killed by police and chanted their names.

The event was emceed by Deputy Public Defenders Kwixuan Maloof and Rebecca Young. Speakers from the Public Defender’s Office included Chair of the Racial Justice Committee Niki Solis, Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets, and San Francisco’s elected Public Defender Mano Raju; and from the community, Founder of Wealth & Disparities in the Black Community Phelicia Jones.

“For decades, we have stood between our clients in the Black community and this jailhouse. Now more than ever, we need support from the Mayor and our city leaders to continue the fight against the injustice that is now plain as day to many, but has been clear to us all along,” said Deputy Public Defender Niki Solis.

“The criminal legal system’s abject failure to hold police accountable for their unjustified acts of excessive force and perpetual violations of the constitutional rights of people of color fosters the type of arrogance we see in Derek Chauvin’s face as he snuffs out George Floyd’s life,” said Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young. “Until people with the power to hold police accountable start doing so, communities of color will continue to distrust police and politicians. Public defenders have long understood the problem. Hold police accountable for their abuses of power. If it were happening to your child, this is what you would want.”

“These avoidable and tragic deaths at the hands of police are just one point of a system in need of deep structural reform, which not only includes police violence, but also dishonesty and other misconduct for which police officers rarely face any discipline or accountability,” said Public Defender Mano Raju. “Communities of color routinely face bias and structural obstacles to fairness in this system. Our work as public defenders makes us inextricably linked to the Black Lives Matter movement because we have to relentlessly advocate for those we represent in an attempt to overcome these obstacles to equal justice.” 

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