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Say NO! to Tasers

Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr are taking advantage of the SF Police Department’s execution-style murder of Mario Woods to push for arming SF police with tasers (electric stun guns), claiming that if the police had tasers, it would not have been “necessary” to kill Mario.

Outrageous and wrong.  Police procedure is to use guns when endangered, so the same racist routine of police killing people of color they say are endangering them will continue, whether cops have tasers or not.  A UCSF study showed fatal police shootings and deaths actually increase after police have tasers.  Instead, tasers will give police another weapon to terrorize subjects.  80% of US taser use is against unarmed victims.  And police use tasers disproportionately against Blacks, Latins, people with disabilities, and the mentally ill. In San Diego Blacks and Latins are twice as likely to be tased as whites

Tasers are not non-lethal. Between 2001-2014, over 600 have been killed by tasers in the US.  When police tase someone, they have no way of knowing if the person is vulnerable to death or permanent bodily or psychology injury from tasing.

Prosecutors and courts will not restrain police taser abuse any more than they restrain police gun use.  A seven-month pregnant black woman in Seattle was pulled over for allegedly driving 32 in a 20 mph zone.  When she refused to sign the ticket, thinking it admitted guilt, and did not get out of the car, she was tased three times. A court ruled police acted reasonably.

Instead of tasers and more weapons for the police, we need trained people who can be called to help people in mental or psychiatric crises. The stresses of extreme economic insecurity, and particularly homelessness, is driving more and more people to mental illness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide, and the increased mental crises on San Francisco streets is a symptom. We need Crisis Intervention Teams, who can approach people having mental and emotional breakdowns, and use calming and verbal de-escalation, instead of shouted police threats, beatings, and even murder. Localities where strong Crisis Intervention Teams have been implemented have greatly reduced and sometimes eliminated use of force and fatal shootings by police.   San Francisco Police have trained some officers in Crisis Intervention, but the lessons of this training have not been encorporated into their General Orders which govern their conduct on the street.  Moreover, the City has not created any Crisis Intervention Teams who could reach people in crisis on San Francisco streets.

Please Come to Police Commission Meeting
Wed, Jan 6, 5:30 PM, City Hall, Rm 400
They’ll probably introduce tasers.


SF Gray Panthers,  2940 16th St, Rm 200-3,  San Francisco CA 94103
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