I received this letter from Mary Ratcliff via the SF Bay View email list. In her email to the list, Ms. Ratcliff added that "Phone calls to the mayor's office, (415) 554-6141, and/or the mayor's press office, (415) 554-6131, would be helpful."
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of Mayor Gavin Newsom
San Francisco, California
Please bring this matter to the attention of the mayor right away.
Bayview precinct officers visited the home of Bay View managing editor and staff writer Ebony Colbert again this morning – at 7 a.m. We cannot imagine any other reason for the visit than a resumption of the intimidation campaign that began after we published an editorial by Ebony on Oct. 19 (http://www.sfbayview.com/101905/wakeup101905.shtml). Ebony’s latest story about the SFPD, this time prompted by the video scandal, was posted to our website yesterday (http://www.sfbayview.com/120705/truecolors.shtml).
The officers’ visits began a few days after the Oct. 19 editorial came out, the same day Mayor Newsom called Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff asking him to retract Ebony’s editorial. They continued several times daily for several weeks (http://www.sfbayview.com/110205/sfpdstung110205.shtml) with gradually decreasing frequency until about a week ago. This morning they resumed.
The excuse for every visit is “a 911 hang-up call.” But Ebony’s home phone stopped working the day the visits started. It’s unplugged and stored in a closet. She uses her cell phone instead. No one in her household – consisting of mom and dad and two little ones, a 2-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son – is calling 911.
Last night, Ebony was up until 3:30 a.m. with a teething baby. Getting awakened by the police at 7 a.m. didn’t set well. She was born and raised in Bayview Hunters Point and lives here now. She is very familiar with the behavior of officers from the Bayview station; one of them is her relative. A brilliant and caring young woman, she wants and works hard to uplift her community.
She simply wants the SFPD to do their job, to protect and serve, not occupy and terrorize her neighborhood. If those words sound strong, consider the terrorism of Sept. 9, when several officers chasing 18-year-old Tyrelle Taylor on foot shot him repeatedly in the back, then, when he had fallen on a neighbor’s floor face down, threw themselves on him and viciously beat him in what could be nothing less than an attempted murder.
She also wants an end to the economic lockout of the people of Bayview Hunters Point, especially from City-funded construction jobs, like those on the Third Street Light Rail project. Please remind the mayor that the $125 million maintenance barn for that project is yet to be built, and ensuring that BVHP builds it – that most of the contracts and jobs, including on-the-job training, go to our people – would greatly uplift this community and win the mayor some good will.
Ebony and her peers know that once, when 10,000 of the jobs at the Hunters Point Shipyard were held by people living in Hunters Point, peace and prosperity characterized this community. They also remember that in September of 1966, when those jobs were being phased out and people’s frustration and fury at joblessness (nearly all other jobs then, as now, were off limits to Black people) and police brutality (shooting 16-year-old Matthew Johnson in the back and killing him, see page 15-16 in http://www.bvhp-pac.org/ConceptPlan.doc and many other sources) exploded into an uprising, the young people did not destroy their community.
They let SFPD know that they were not needed in Hunters Point by blocking police from entering any of the streets leading east from Third Street. Instead of commending the youngsters for a largely peaceful protest, tanks rumbled up and down Third Street and SFPD sharpshooters lined up three rows deep on Third Street and shot into the Bayview Opera House, where youngsters had fled for sanctuary, hitting several of them.
Francisco, please tell the mayor that, for the same reasons as in 1966, Bayview Hunters Point is once again close to the boiling point. The video scandal and the looming specter of an execution at San Quentin on Tuesday – which we pray the governor will reject – could lead to another uprising.
Frustration and fury over joblessness and police brutality and disrespect is now a challenge squarely facing Mayor Gavin Newsom. Current feeble attempts at job training and policing won’t cut it. Blatant attempts to intimidate a young writer with the courage to speak truth to power merely intensify community outrage.
I am available by phone 24/7 and look forward to discussing these issues with you.
Mary Ratcliff, executive editor
San Francisco Bay View