The union representing San Francisco police officers published a photograph of two dogs in its monthly newspaper that critics say belittles the Black Lives Matter movement and raises questions about the police force’s commitment to repairing its relationship with communities of color.
The picture, which appeared on the back page of the August issue of the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal, shows a pair of Labrador retrievers, one black and one white. The black dog has a sign around its neck reading, “Black Labs Matter,” while the white dog sports a sign reading, “All Labs Matter.”
The dog photo “once again shows a severe lack of understanding,” said Sgt. Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice, an organization within the San Francisco police force representing African American and other nonwhite officers. “It’s so inflammatory, and they still don’t get it. They still choose to inflame situations, and it’s just really insulting.”
Union officials did not immediately comment to a request for comment on the journal photo, but Union President Martin Halloran pointed to a radio ad put out by the union about the recent attacks on police officers.
“In light of the rising violence against police officers, we hope everyone can start to turn down the volume,” Halloran says in the ad. “Anti-police rhetoric has been cited as a contributing factor to the violence against police officers. I think we can all do better and the police will do our part. We will continue with our best efforts to build bridges of communication and understanding between us and the community that we serve.”
The headline of the lead article in the August issue of the union journal reads, “Persevering the violence and blame: America’s cops have been there before.”
The union published the photo amid questions about whether the department has a systemic problem with racism, following the emergence of two separate sets of racist text messages exchanged between officers. Halloran has repeatedly said no such problem exists, calling the department one of the most culturally and racially diverse in the nation.
The U.S. Department of Justice is in the midst of a collaborative, top-to-bottom review of the police force that was launched after officers shot and killed a stabbing suspect, Mario Woods, in the Bayview neighborhood in December.
Mario Woods was shot more than 20 times by cops.
A panel of retired judges, assembled by District Attorney George Gascón to investigate potential police misconduct and bias, has questioned whether the union holds too much power in the department, and many activists have accused the union of standing in the way of reforms.
Anand Subramanian, executive director of the panel of judges investigating bias, also criticized the publication of the dog photo, saying, “It shows a severe lack of judgment and empathy for the real and justified pain and outrage that black communities are feeling.”
Sgt. Williams, who drew ire from the union when she testified before the judges’ panel about racism she experienced in the Police Department, said the photo demonstrated “blatant unwillingness to speak up for black lives.
“The POA is as good at sticking their foot in their mouth as Donald Trump,” she said. “So much for reform, that’s what that looks like. Reforms aren’t going to happen until you get them to concede that they’ve been doing things wrong, and this does not look like a concession or even an understanding or a desire to understand.”
Full story is at SFgate and Raw Story. Cops keep managing to demonstrate just how bigoted they are, and also how determined they are to stay that way, making every narrative all about them. Sorry, stormtroopers, you want respect? Fucking earn it.