San Francisco Police fail reporting requirementTuesday, February 5, 2013 at 10:45 am by BORDC Staff
On January 31, the San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper reported on a recent Board of Supervisors meeting addressed by Police Chief Greg Suhr. Required under the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights ordinance adopted by the Board last year, the Police Chief’s report was supposed to disclose to the Board the circumstances of the SFPD’s collaboration with the FBI.
The Bay Guardian quoted BORDC’s NLG Legal Fellow, Nadia Kayyali, who worked on the campaign to secure the ordinance even before joining BORDC in fall 2012:
“We were very clear with the chief about what we expected to see,” Nadia Kayyali of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a coalition member, told the Guardian. She also said the report “was slipped on the agenda at the last minute,” despite assurances that the coalition would be notified and given a chance to respond. “It does show a lack of regard for the ordinance and the work that went into it.
The Bay Guardian also quoted Nasrina Bargzie with the Asian Law Caucus, who said “she was disappointed and dismayed by what the report included, ‘but we’re going to keep pushing on it.’” Guardian editor Steve Jones went on to explain:
The controversy surrounding possible SFPD-FBI spying on people who haven’t violated any laws – which is illegal under local and state law – broke almost two years ago when the American Civil Liberties Union obtained a secret 2007 SFPD-FBI memorandum of understanding placing SFPD officers under FBI command. It seemed to bypass local restrictions adopted after past SFPD scandals involving police spying on political groups.
Suhr tried to quell the controversy by issuing a general order banning officers from participating in surveillance that violates local rules or the state constitution’s privacy protections, but activists pushed for a stronger assurance. The Board of Supervisors then voted 6-5 to codify those protections into city law, but Suhr objected and Lee vetoed the measure. A weaker version calling for annual reports and Police Commission reviews of future SFPD-FBI MOUs was approved unanimously by the board.
Now, it appears the SFPD has done little to soften the “trust us” stance that it has taken from the beginning, frustrating activists who had pushed for more, here and in other cities that do domestic surveillance with the FBI.