A Better way to Honor Mario Woods and Others unjustly Gunned Down by Police

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was booed in the rotunda of City Hall during his inauguration on January 8, 2016, by protesters calling for the firing of the City’s police chief.

On December 2, 2015, SF police shot and killed another young Black man, 26-year-old Mario Woods in what one elected city official described aptly as, a “Firing squad.” https://youtu.be/ij5TZuohoRg

I support the call for the SF police chief to be replaced, not only for this latest unjustified killing by SF police but also, the culture of arrogance and inflated egos that make up too large of a portion of the San Francisco police force.
However, there is an approach, to remind law enforcement for generations to come that, 21st century San Francisco will honor those unjustifiably gunned down by law enforcement.

When a police officer anywhere is gunned down in the line of duty it is appropriate for morale that the officer be honored for his or her service. But what about the morale of loved ones left to bury victims of police use of excessive force? Even though Mario Woods had a knife and was a suspect in an earlier stabbing the same day 5 members of SFPD gunned him down, he was no threat to the police, as the video clearly reveals.

The perfect response to this police shooting was the lawsuit filed by the family of Mario Woods. However, lawsuits are not the solution for preventing future police firing squads.

In my brief stay on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s “Equity Advisory Committee”, I suggested that City College of San Francisco should be renamed, “Trayvon Martin Community College San Francisco.” Allow me to explain:

No person should be denied the right to walk home, simply, because someone in authority had a gun and a bias. And no young person should ever forget what happened to Trayvon Martin. In addition, I believe any parent would jump at the opportunity to allow the loss of their child to inspire others into seeking a higher education in the name of their lost love one. And though there are way too many candidates to select from; unfortunately, I would not be opposed to putting in the hands of voters a more deserving candidate.

Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers was slain outside his home in Jackson Mississippi on June 12, 1963 because he fought for Blacks to gain admission in public universities as well as voting rights in the state. It is only fitting that this unjust killing was answered by honoring him with Medgar Evers College in New York. And the visionaries who made this possible could not be more pleased to know that this New York community college has educated and inspired thousands of young people in the last forty plus years of operation.

I sincerely believe the 5 officers who shot and killed Mario Woods regret their actions. Nevertheless, the San Francisco Police Department has taken on a disrespectful, defensive and arrogant position on this killing. During a Police Commission meeting, to discuss the shooting the police chief stated there was no one who wished this police shooting did not happen more than him. What a disrespectful statement to Mario Woods’s mother and family. And for the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, Martin Halloran to pay for a radio spot to refuted claims that the SFPD was racist, for proof he said the officers who shot Woods were “minority”, which proves nothing.

These assertions must be dealt with by the citizens to remind the SFPD that they need to wake up.

The closest police station to where Mario Woods was gunned down was the “Bayview Police Station.” And I could not think of a better way to tell SFPD that this killing was unacceptable than to renaming Bayview Station, “Mario Woods Police Station.”

The bottom line is that the next generation of law enforcement should be taught, by this generation, that the Oscar Grant’s, Treyvon Martin’s, Mario Woods’s Michael Brown’s, Tamir Rice’s and too many others to mention will have an everlasting reminder that we don’t have legal firing squads in America anymore. And if this one gesture cleared out all Bayview Station cops, who are of the mind that only police should be respected, so be it.

Renaming a police station, or any other structure after anyone can be difficult, no matter who we intend to honor. But just think: Mario Woods would smile a lot more if, renaming a public building after him, as a reminder of what police should not be doing, would also allow him to really rest in peace.

1983 to 1993 Bible Study teacher at SF juvenile hall. Currently prison reform activist and author of Case Game - Activating the Activist; an autobiography.

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