Protesters Rally against Police Violence in San Francisco

Protesters Rally against Police Violence in San Francisco

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – US Protesters gathered in San Francisco, California Friday night to remember Mario Woods, an African-American who was gunned down by police one year ago.

The gathering is part of a memorial and vigil at the site where Woods was gunned down, San Francisco-based KRON-4 website reported on Saturday.

As they have on previous Fridays, Mothers on the March, against police murders, gathered outside San Francisco’s Hall of Justice to demand that District Attorney George Gascon file criminal charges against the police officers who shot and killed a variety of people, including stabbing suspect Mario Woods.

The group is named in honor of the mothers of those who have died during recent officer-involved shootings in San Francisco. The parents of Alex Nieto, who was fatally shot by police in 2014, Elvira and Refugio Nieto, have been actively participating in the demonstrations.

“We’re here to support these mothers but this historic day on the anniversary of Mario could not go unaddressed. So were in solidarity with the mothers on the march to tell them that they’re not alone,” Christopher Muhammad said during the demonstration.

What made Friday’s protest stand out was that it was one year ago that Woods was shot and killed by police, a shooting that was caught on video.

As in previous weeks, demonstrators marched to Gascon’s office, but he was not there. But KRON4 caught up with him to ask what why this investigation is taking so long.

Gascon says the DA’s office now has additional funding to investigate these type of incidents.

Still, he says, the backlog means don’t expect this investigation to be complete until the end of 2017.

Woods’ fatal shooting is one of a handful of fatal shootings that have occurred in recent years. The fatal shootings have put pressure on the police department to make changes, including the resignation of former police Chief Greg Suhr and the appointment of interim police Chief Toney Chaplin.

“Chief Chaplin is not someone who we can look to to stand up to the police officers’ association, who has their tentacles wrapped around this [police] department.” Muhammad said. “How dare this department think that we can believe that they will transform themselves? There’s no history or evidence. Whenever this department made reforms it was forced to do it by court order, so we’re calling in on the justice department to step in.”

Woods, 26, was fatally shot on Dec. 2, 2015 in the city’s Bayview District by five police officers, after a man reported being stabbed earlier that afternoon in the 6600 block of Third Street.

When officers surrounded him, he refused to drop a knife he was holding and, after using multiple non-lethal weapons on Woods, officers fired at him when he appeared to walk toward the officers, police said.

The shooting generated public outrage after it was captured on video by several bystanders and was widely circulated on social media.

Following the shooting, Woods’ family filed a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit against the city in federal court, accusing police of using extreme force.

In response, the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office said the shooting was justified as he allegedly told officers they would have to shoot him before he would drop the knife.

An autopsy report later revealed that that Woods had suffered 20 penetrating gunshot wounds, many of them to the back of his body, and one apparent graze from a bullet. Woods also had several large bruises consistent with non-lethal projectiles, the autopsy found.

Additionally, the autopsy also found that Woods had drugs in his system including methamphetamine and amphetamines, marijuana, anti-depressants, cough syrup, nicotine and caffeine.

During Friday’s demonstration, District Attorney spokesman Max Szabo said to the demonstrators that while there’s no update in any of the officer-involved shooting cases, Gascon has agreed to meet with the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition sometime next week. Details about the meeting were not immediately available.

Also Friday, in honor of Woods, dozens of people showed up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in the city’s Bayview neighborhood at around 3:30 p.m. From there, they marched down Third Street to Fitzgerald Avenue, to the site where Woods was fatally shot by police.

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