San Francisco summit focuses on police department's use of force

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The annual San Francisco Public Defender's Justice Summit Wednesday focused on the police department's use of force policy where the public was encouraged to voice their opinion.

It's been the subject of months of protests that took down San Francisco Police Department Chief Greg Suhr.

On Wednesday the public got a chance to tell the San Francisco Public Defender's Office about the police department's use of force.

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The summit was held at the city's library and organizers call the department's use of force policy antiquated. They brought in people from across the country to examine it and discuss it.

They started with music and poetry, but then brought in keynote speaker, and author Melissa Harris Perry to start the conversation. "I want to make an argument that black lives matter is both a declaration and it's a set of questions, right? So, it's both black lives matter. But, then also a question, do black lives matter? Right, and then also if black lives matter, what would be different? How might the world look different if black lives mattered?" Perry said.

This is the thirteenth San Francisco Public Defender's Justice Summit, but this year's strikes a chord because of its focus on the police department's use of force policy. "We've had three shootings in San Francisco in the last six months, all people of color and what we're going to show today is that these shootings were preventable and avoidable, but you need to have both a change in policy as well as practice," San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.

The most recent shooting happened last week when police fatally shot 29-year-old Jessica Williams. Police say it appears she wasn't armed.

Recent killings like this motivated Vanessa Jackson to attend the summit. "I'm hoping change is headed our way, but if not you know, the people are going to have to come to the street to make a change," she said.

The policy changer's were not in the summit, but Adachi thinks their voice and others can influence change. "There's going to be hearings around body cameras, and use of force, they should come out and take an interest, or write a letter. It's very important that people become engaged in the criminal justice system if they want to see change," Adachi said.
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