Critics' Ignoring of Documented Record of Police Abuse in Frisco Proves Kaepernick Right
A month before the police union in San Francisco sent a blistering letter to NFL officials recently demanding that the professional football league apologize for the “ill-advised” criticisms of police by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that union was the target of scathing criticism for supporting police misconduct.
That criticism of the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association came in a report from a panel that conducted a yearlong investigation into policemen in that city caught sending racist, sexist and homophobic text messages. One member of that blue ribbon panel, a retired judge, blasted the police union for having established an “ugly” tone that infected the entire police department.
The same San Francisco police union that has lambasted civilians for not cooperating with police to solve crimes had directed its members to stiff-arm that panel through refusal to cooperate in the text message investigation. That racist texting scandal has produced the dismissal of over a dozen criminal cases and a reinvestigation of thousands of other cases for possible bias by those texting cops.
Salient facts about the sordid history of abusive policing in San Francisco are generally missing from most of the fevered reactions in the news media over Kaepernick’s actions around America's national anthem.
A 1998 report on police brutality in America conducted by Human Rights Watch stated police officials in San Francisco had failed to hold abusive officers “accountable.” Abusive policing in San Francisco, historically, has ravaged blacks and Latinos disproportionately according to repeated reports.
Three months before Colin Kaepernick’s late August decision not to stand for the national anthem in protest of police brutality and other racism in American society San Francisco’s police chief was forced to resign due to a series of fatal shootings by police under questionable circumstances. One fatal shooting, of a black woman, occurred hours before the chief’s resignation.
Those fatal shootings and a litany of other police abuses in San Francisco had triggered regular protests. This opposition to abusive policing even included a April 2016 hunger strike by protestors outside of a police station demanding the resignation of the city’s police chief and mayor. The chief’s resignation came weeks after the onset of that hunger strike by a five-person group that included a 66-year-old grandmother and pre-school operator who feared danger to her grandson from police.
The media failure to contextualize Kaepernick’s complaint about “bodies in the street…and…people getting away with murder” is a prime example of one festering critique of media coverage: text without context is pretext.