City Visions: Will the Mario Woods Shooting be a Catalyst for Change? | KALW

City Visions: Will the Mario Woods Shooting be a Catalyst for Change?

Jan 28, 2016

The shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview by police officers in December embroiled San Franciscans in the conversation about police confrontations with people of color that has been carried out in cities across the nation over the last year.  

On 2/1/2016 host Joseph Pace and guests discuss what is being done to prevent these tragic incidents and what we can learn from other cities' efforts to introduce change.


Malia Cohen, Supervisor of San Francisco's 10th District, which includes Bayview-Hunters Point.

Greg Suhr, a 34-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department who in 2011 became the city's 42nd Chief of Police.

Julie Traun, a criminal defense attorney practicing in San Francisco, a member of the San Francisco Bar Association's Criminal Justice Task Force and Chair of its Data Collection and Analysis subcommittee.

SFPD Chief Greg Suhr: 

I never said the officers were justified; that’s been misreported. I, like everybody else when I saw the video, was concerned. I saw the amount of yellow tags on the ground that demonstrated how many shots were fired… The video to anybody that watches it is upsetting. We have worked so hard to win the trust of the communities that have been lesser served, especially working with young people, and then to have the community’s trust shaken the way that it has been-- it’s almost like it all went away in a day. I think we are under fire right now we need to do everything we can to be better.

The point is that you own [your biases] and then guard against them. And certainly, these cops that engaged in these reprehensible text messages, that took bias to the extreme that clearly has them falling below the minimum qualifications to be a police officer and I’ve been trying to terminate them since I found out about it. .... If people think [bias] is real, then it is.

Supervisor Malia Cohen:

For those that are sitting on the west side of the city, although Bayview is ground zero, this is an issue that affects the entire city…. Why has Mario Woods become such a trigger? Why is it his homicide as opposed to Alex Nieto? I believe it really has to do with timing. There would be no Mario Woods if there was no Alex Nieto, if there hadn’t been Oscar Grant, and if there hadn't been Trayvon Martin….The December shooting is a symbol because it connects San Francisco to other parts of the country. And there was a time -- and I would probably associate myself with this and be guilty of this -- when I believed that we were not Ferguson and that we did not have challenges within our department… It is only over time that it has been revealed. We certainly don't have the deep challenges that other municipalities are dealing with. But this is an opportunity for us to step up as leaders… and take an introspective moment and clean up our own house.