SAN FRANCISCO—Last night, hundreds of peaceful protestors gathered for a vigil, organized by Defund SFPD Now, on the steps of Mission High School for Roger Allen, Adam Toledo, and Daunte Wright, all of whom were shot and killed by police officers. The vigil was followed by a march up to the Valencia Street branch of the San Francisco Police Department. Many held signs and chanted with a clear message and demands: to put an end to the current state of policing and the prison industrial complex as a whole.
“There is no amount of prosecution, no amount of money, no amount of reform that will ever be able to bring them back,” said Aditi Joshi of Defund SFPD Now. “We will never get justice from this racist system. They were murdered by the institution of policing and all of those that uphold it.”
Roger Allen, a 44-year-old Black man, and San Francisco native, was shot in the chest and murdered by a Daly City police officer on April 7, just four days before the Brooklyn Center shooting. According to Daly City district attorney Stephen Wagstaffe, Allen was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked truck, along with two other people, when police arrived to ask if he needed help with his damaged rear tire. The police officer then saw “what appeared to be a Glock firearm” on his lap, posing the weapon as a threat, which then led to killing Allen after struggling to take it out of his hands. Wagstaffe later concluded that it was a replica BB gun.
But despite Wagstaffe’s findings, numerous local news outlets have reported inconsistent accounts of this incident, making police critics and Allen’s family question whether or not those findings are true.
Another protestor, who wishes to be anonymous for this story, asked the crowd, “Why did the police show up for a flat tire? Why did two more cops show up? This is indicative of why we need to defund the police. They have so many resources. They have three police officers show up to one [inaudible] for a flat tire.”
In an article by the SF Examiner, it was reported that the officer reached into the truck and grabbed Allen’s hand, which then led to a struggle and eventually shooting Allen in the chest. A different article by KTVU FOX 2 stated that Allen was cooperative and got out of the truck after another officer joined the first. Daly City police officers don’t wear body cameras, drawing more speculation and questions from the public.
Change SSF, a grassroots movement in South San Francisco, also denounced this in a recent Instagram post, criticizing Wagstaffe for leaving out crucial details from this case and stating that his “negligence led to the death of Derrick Gaines, Chinedu Okobi, and others” and questioning why news articles are removing Wagstaffe’s quotes that showed misconduct from Daly City police.
Hundreds marched over to the Valencia Street Station, which was responsible for the killings of Alex Nieto, Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat, to name a few. Many chanted “say his name” following with “we keep us safe,” exhibiting distrust in reliance on the police for public safety.
Talika Fletcher, Allen’s younger sister, drove to the march with her family to mourn for her brother. “My brother was a good man,” she said. “My nephew cannot grow up with his father. Now I have to bury my brother. That was my best friend.”
Calling for justice and transparency on her brother’s death, Fletcher also spoke directly to the police officers that lined up in front of the Valencia Street station, reminding them that they can go home to their families while it’s no longer the case for her brother.
“Y’all get to go home. My brother is laying in a morgue right now.”
Gabi Contreras-Cisneros, another organizer for Defund SFPD Now, said she’s been seeing more people realizing that police reform isn’t the answer to reimagining public safety, and they instead want to abolish the police.
“It’s powerful seeing people have this realization, and that’s part of the work for abolition,” she said.
“Now, I am seeing a greater call for abolition, especially as murders at the hands of police are becoming more public. People are fed up, and understandably so. If we continue to let the police dictate what public safety means, we will continue seeing cops kill Black and brown people. We cannot wait because people’s lives depend on it.”
Photos by Savannah Kuang