On Thursday March 1st, nearly 100 community members and advocates showed up to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee. AROC was present alongside member organizations of the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco and diverse other community groups such as Mujeras Unidas y Activas, Causa Justa:Just Cause, LYRIC, and SEIU Local 1021. Together we presented testimony in support of an Ordinance which would regulate and create transparency and accountability in the San Francisco Police Department’s relationship with the FBI.
Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian, and other community organizations are standing up to say “enough is enough”. We have seen what’s happened in New York with NYPD spying, infiltrators and informants have created fear and suspicion in our mosques in SF, Bay Area residents have had tracking devices planted on their cars, and too many of us have been subject to undue interrogation. At the hearing, one AROC member bravely spoke out about his experience several years ago. He was being watched and questioned about his activities by unknown individuals. He turned to the SFPD for help, going to his station to make a complaint. It was at that point that uniformed agents of the SFPD began following him on the streets. Now, this AROC member and his family are taking a stand so that this does not happen again to them or anyone else.
Over two dozen other community advocates and directly affected community members also shared stories of community members being targeted, harassed, or isolated from their communities at the hands of either police, FBI, or immigration officials.
While this Ordinance on its own cannot completely end this harassment, it is a strong step in the right direction, and a statement that as a city San Francisco will do what it can to assure community members that their rights will be upheld by the SFPD when it comes to First Amendment activities such as political organizing and religious gatherings, as well as protection of our homes and community centers.
All three Supervisors on the Public Safety Committee spoke strongly in support of the Ordinance and praised the community for coming forward, with Committee Chair John Avalos stating “we can all be proud of this legislation moving forward to ensure protections for our community members.”
This campaign is not over yet though! We still have to pass the Ordinance at the full Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday March 13th, we need you to join the courageous community members who came out yesterday and come to City Hall Room 250 at 2pm for the full vote at the Board of Supervisors.
Currently we have 6 votes in support of this Ordinance, but we need at least 2 more votes in order to secure a veto-proof majority and be sure that this law will go into effect. We can’t do that without showing strong community support, be a part of making a change in the City of San Francisco for the safety of all our community. Contact AROC at 415.861.7444 to help!
Photo Credit: Ramsey El Qare