According to a study discussed in the Dec. 17 San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Police Department arrests African Americans at a rate far higher than any other city in California.
African Americans in San Francisco are arrested at three times the rate of Los Angeles and four times the rate of
In cities throughout the United States, African Americans are arrested at rates that far outnumber their percentage of the population.
The degree and growth of this epidemic in San Francisco, one of the wealthiest cities in the country, highlights the stark contradictions brewed by capitalism. African Americans constitute almost half of all felony arrests in San Francisco, yet they represent less than eight percent of the city’s population.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom expressed the need for an investigation to look into the disturbing statistics. But Newsom also stated that the disparities were not based on race. He said that there was no “significant racial profiling in our [police] department.”
Police Chief Heather Fong shared Newsom’s sentiment. Fong also blamed the city’s African Americans for the problem. She said that there is a widespread perception that San Francisco is “soft on crime,” which draws “criminals” from surrounding communities.
Both city officials and the SFPD are unwilling to address the issue head on. They have been intransigent about this racist problem for decades.
San Francisco’s high arrest rates are nothing new. As stated by the report, in 1986, San Francisco’s felony arrest rate of African Americans was almost 45 percent greater than that of Los Angeles and almost 51 percent higher than Oakland’s.
Twenty years later, the felony arrest rate for African Americans has jumped more than 35 percent.
This is coupled with the economic strangulation of oppressed communities. Working-class and oppressed people, African American’s in particular, are being pushed out of the city. During the 1990s, San Francisco’s African American population diminished at a faster rater than any other major U.S. city. This trend has continued.
San Francisco is a stark example that police abuse and violence is an institutionalized form of social and economic control.
Fighting racism, police brutality and the capitalist state apparatus is a priority for revolutionaries and progressives.