San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) infuriated police supporters on Sunday when they posted an invitation to social media that asked the community to join them virtually for the unveiling of the new Black Lives Matter poster in the Bayview police station lobby.
“Hey Facebook!” the post on SFPD’s official Facebook page began.
“Join us for an exclusive live stream event on Monday, September 14th at 10 AM for an unveiling of our Black Lives Matter poster in our police station lobby,” the invitation read.
The announcement was immediately met with harsh criticism from the law enforcement community and police supporters, many of whom pointed out that two deputies had been ambushed in Los Angeles County less than 24 hours earlier.
“Dear San Francisco Police Department your timing and tact is nothing short of despicable…you disgust me,” Mike the Cop, a former officer turned social media influencer, wrote when he shared the original post on his own Facebook page.
Many on social media who condemned the post, which has since been deleted, blamed the police department, and San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott specifically, for the tone-deaf invitation announcing the “exclusive” event celebrating the new signage.
“Black lives have always mattered to us and we will continue to guard Bayview residents in partnership and with pride,” Chief Scott told KGO after the two-foot by five-foot plaque was unveiled at police headquarters in August.
Ten more signs were slated to be hung in all of the SFPD’s district stations.
“It’s a really important conversation right now and to have people take part in that conversation, to express whatever it is that they’re feeling, what their values are, it was a rewarding experience for me personally,” Chief Scott told KGO.
The Police Tribune reached out to SFPD for comment on the unveiling celebration and asked why the post had been removed.
San Francisco Police Sergeant Michael Andraychak confirmed the event was still happening and implied the post’s removal was an error.
“I’m having our webmaster check the Facebook posting,” Sgt. Andraychak told The Police Tribune. “If it’s not visible, I’ll have him ensure that is gets fixed.”
A new post announcing the virtual event went up on Facebook shortly after The Police Tribune contacted SFPD.
It was immediately met with the same kind of blowback.
“Are you going to delete your post after you receive more backlash? Like your post from last night? You’re supporting the very organization that hates you,” Jack Simpson wrote beneath the announcement.
But the signs weren’t the brainchild of the police chief who is being blamed for their installation.
The San Francisco Police Commission voted in mid-July to force SFPD to hang big Black Lives Matter posters in every police station in the city.
The resolution to show visible support for Black Lives Matter passed by a vote of 5 to 0, KGO reported.
“This resolution is merely a small gesture to show that this commission and our department stands in solidarity for the support of Black lives,” the police commission said in a statement after the measure passed.
The posters must be hung in public areas of every police station within the next 30 days and it must be unobstructed by a minimum distance of five feet, KRON reported.
The signs must measure a minimum of 32 inches by 24 inches and “prominently and exclusively” feature the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” according to the resolution.
The resolution also said that if a sign was damaged, it should immediately be removed and replaced, KRON reported.
The police commission called the move the first step in a larger dialog about how the police department can support the black community.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) sent a letter to the police commission ahead of the vote on the resolution that said they objected to the plan, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The union expressed concern that the directive to hang Black Lives Matter signs “establishes a new precedent that raises concerns about introducing political agendas and wedge issues into the safe harbor of police stations.”
“Police stations are places for the citizens of San Francisco to seek help and assistance when they have become victims of crimes,” Rockne Lucia, attorney for the POA, wrote. “They are not places for political endorsements or alignment with political organizations.”
Some community members who commented on the resolution at the police commission meeting objected to the initiative as well, KGO reported.
“As a Mexican heritage person, I don’t think that,” one man said. “When you’re saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you’re segregating a certain portion of the population.”
Another woman echoed the concerns of the police union, KGO reported.
“I feel like some areas should be neutral ground I guess,” she said.
Chief Scott caused controversy when he split with the police union and embraced the police commission’s initiative, KGO reported.
“People are talking to us and we must listen,” the police chief said.
The resolution’s sponsor pushed back at the POA’s objections and said the resolution didn’t have a political agenda, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
Police Commissioner Dion-Jay Brookter called the move a “small, significant token” of support in light of the current anti-police climate.
Brookter said the resolution was in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, not the organization by the same name, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
“This strictly came from the black community and members in the black community,” Brookter told KGO.
He said he was pleased to see the signs had been made in metal and properly mounted because it implied permanence.
“The fact that it’s metallic and it’s going to be mounted, I think really speaks to how seriously you all have taken what’s come from the community,” Brookter told KGO.
However, some Defund the Police and Black Lives Matter activists were not impressed by the police commission-mandated signage.
“For me, they’re like absolutely meaningless,” Defund SFPD Now organizer Kaylah Williams told KGO. “These are just platitudes and it’s just tokenism.”