San Francisco police apologise to LGBT+ community for years of abuse

In a landmark reconciliation meeting, the Chief of the San Francisco police made a formal apology to the LGBT+ community for years of mistreatment.

LGBT+ community and San Francisco police gathering for the first reconciliation meeting in the Methodist Church.

The Chief of the San Francisco police has made a formal apology, in a groundbreaking reconciliation meeting, to the LGBT+ community for all the years of mistreatment and abuse caused by the force.

Police Chief William Scott spoke to the LGBT+ community in the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, saying “We the members of the SFPD are here tonight to reflect and to apologise for our past actions against the LGBTQ community and acknowledge harm that has been done that still lingers to this day to many people in the room.” 

“We’re sorry for what happened. We’re sorry for our role in it and we’re sorry for the harm that it caused,” the Police Chief continued. The reconciliation meeting was held during the 53rd anniversary of the Compton Cafeteria riots, in which trans women protested against police brutality in a restaurant in the Tenderloin neighbourhood. 

During the meeting, Police Chief Scott acknowledged Joanne Chadwick’s continuous activist work and made a personal apology for everything she has been put through. In the 60’s, she documented police brutality towards the LGBT+ community at a New Year’s dance with a camera she smuggled in her bra. 

Chadwick said, “I don’t need the apology, but a lot of people who are no longer with us need the apology. So I’m here to accept the apology on their behalf because they died of AIDS, lots of things have happened in this time.”

Though the Police Chief’s comments were met with applause, the meeting continued with reminders of necessary action still required. 

Anubis Daugherty, formerly homeless, was the first community member to speak. He addressed the fact that LGBT+ youth are still being targeted by the police and the apology “somehow rings hollow.”

The executive director of the Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, Aria Sa’id, told the San Francisco Examiner, “We’re often criminalised for being poor in the Tenderloin. The mayor has increased patrols. There has to be more than an apology.”

While the meeting is a crucial first step towards building open communication between the police and the LGBT+ community, the talks also highlighted the need for action. 

Police Chief Scott continued, “Some here tonight may ask, ‘Why now? Why are we doing this now?’ And for those of you who might wonder why – I say it’s because we are listening. We hear you. And because it’s time.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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