Target: The San Fransisco Police Department
Goal: Suspend the officers responsible for using excessive force against D’Paris “DJ” Williams
D’Paris “DJ” Williams was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk in a residential area last week in San Francisco, something that millions of children do on a daily basis in the United States, since riding a bicycle on the street can be dangerous. Police officers who were out of uniform and were in the area on another assignment stopped him for a ‘vehicle code infraction.’ Since the police officers were dressed in plainclothes, they were not immediately recognizable as authority figures. Given the ongoing track record of police in the United States and citizen-led attacks against black youth, such as the high-profile Zimmerman case, DJ Williams, a young black man, was understandably hesitant to obey the cops.
His hesitation was not misplaced, either. When he did not immediately listen to the cops, they proceeded to grab him and search him without any justification. After searching him, they beat him. DJ William’s sister (who was present at the scene) says that they choked him, pinned their weight on him, and beat him for no reason.
According to a statement issued by the San Fransisco Police Department (SFPD), DJ Williams ‘fled’ the scene, which the SFPD felt justified the police officers’ behavior, which the department called ‘reasonable force.’ In videos circulating the Internet, it is obvious that the police officers’ behavior went beyond ‘reasonable’ force: DJ Williams was not armed, and his only violation was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.
It is unacceptable for the SFPD to call the actions their officers took ‘reasonable.’ Police brutality is a pressing concern in our country, as citizens’ rights are being stripped away by unreasonable search-and-seizure laws and other civil rights violations. We need to end police brutality, especially against young black men. The SFPD dropped charges against Williams, but that is not enough. They need to issue a personal apology to Williams and suspend the officers responsible for this attack.
The behavior of the officers who beat and arrested D’Paris “DJ” Williams last week in San Fransisco was unacceptable. They violated DJ Williams’ rights as a citizen of this country by searching him without cause and beating him before they arrested him. DJ Williams’ only violation was a minor vehicle infraction: riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, something that is done by millions of people in this country all the time. None of his actions warranted the excessive forced used by members of the SFPD to arrest him. Furthermore, they–not Williams–are responsible for escalating the situation by not removing him from the area immediately upon deciding to arrest him.
The SFPD owes DJ Williams and his family a personal apology for the unacceptable behavior of the SFPD officers. Furthermore, the officers responsible for the attack on Williams need to be suspended for their behavior. If the SFPD will not recognize the behavior of these officers as unreasonable, then residents of San Fransisco will not be able to trust other SFPD officers’ judgments in future situations. DJ Williams was a 20-year-old youth who was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk near his home. He was not a criminal and should not have been beaten as if he posed a significant threat to anyone. We demand that these steps are taken so that residents can once again trust the SFPD to protect them.
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Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue via Flickr