Hundreds Rally and Pray Jumaa Outside Civic Center to Support Ordinance

Friday, March 30th, hundreds of community members rallied and prayed in Civic Center Plaza to tell Mayor Ed Lee to support the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights.  Despite repeated requests to listen to community needs, Mayor Lee has not yet met with the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco, which hosted today’s rally.

Please come out on Tuesday, April 3rd at 2pm to San Francisco City Hall Room 250 to make sure that all Board of Supervisors members who stand for civil rights also stand for this Ordinance!

The Coalition is made up of many Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian organizations such as the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Asian Law Caucus, the Council on American Islamic Relations, Arab Cultural and Community Center, and the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, as well as legal organizations such as the National Lawyers Guild.

Community members from these organizations, local mosques, and representatives of organizations that have endorsed this Ordinance are outraged that the Mayor is threatening to veto the legislation. Over 80 organizational endorsers and hundreds of community members have spoken out in support of the ordinance as a way to ensure that the SFPD will not overstep San Francisco’s civil rights protections while collaborating with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Ordinance passed on it’s first vote with 6 Supervisors supporting – Chiu, Kim, Mar, Avalos, Campos, and Olague. With Supervisors Chiu and Olague, Ordinance author Supervisor Jane Kim explained on Friday that this Ordinance is an effort to “ensure that today and in the future, at least our SF employees will never engage in this type of racist profiling which does not make our city any safer but instead engenders mistrust, fear, and frankly anger and frustration.”

There is still a chance that the Supervisors who originally voted against the Ordinance will look to the many people who are demanding this civil rights legislation and choose to support it this Tuesday when they have a second chance.  If the Ordinance receives 8 votes at the Board level then it would be possible to overturn the pending Mayoral veto.  That is why the remaining 2 progressive Supervisors’ votes are so important.  Organizers are urging community members to call Supervisors Wiener (415-554-6968) and Cohen (415-554-7670) on Monday to demand they vote for the Ordinance, and then to come to City Hall on Tuesday at 2pm to ensure the 8 votes.

At Friday’s rally, Mokhtar Alkansali carried the sentiment of the communities’ frustration, directing his statements to the Supervisors who have voted against the Ordinance, saying “We especially want to ask Supervisors Wiener and Cohen who claim to represent marginalized communities – why aren’t you here with us today supporting this ordinance?”  Supervisor Cohen was present on the steps of City Hall earlier for a rally demanding justice for Trayvon Martin and asking for an end to racial profiling of African-Americans, but did not attend the rally.

Community members are asking Mayor Ed Lee to meet with them so that he can (1) closely examine the Ordinance, (2) listen to community stories demonstrating the clear need for this Ordinance, and (3) restore local standards, local oversight and local control through legislation so that San Franciscans know that the local police is operating in a manner that is consistent with civil rights laws.

There were strong messages from allied organizations and individuals, including Reverend Amos Brown of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stood alongside several other Black church leaders saying “they may come for the Blacks in the morning but rest assured that at noontime they will come for the Arabs and the Muslims.  We are standing with you because it is wrong to profile Blacks and it is wrong to profile Arabs and Muslims in these United States of America.”

Niloufar Khonsari of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee, a key coalition working to ensure the City remains a Sanctuary for immigrants, carried the message of Cesar Chavez that the Committee “firmly stands with the majority of our Board of Supervisors in support of civil and human rights protections.”

Finally, UC Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian shared a Muslim sermon where he asked the critical question “What is the value of religious freedom if we have infiltrators in mosques?” then reiterated, “It is not right for the Police Department to sign a secret agreement with the FBI.  We want the SFPD to protect our constitutional rights, not violate them.”

Please come out on Tuesday, April 3rd at 2pm to San Francisco City Hall Room 250 to make sure that all Board of Supervisors members who stand for civil rights also stand for this Ordinance!