Probably the most divisive and bombastic figure in the local debate over officer-involved shootings and the SFPD's use of force has been Police Officers Association president Martin Halloran. Halloran has spent the last seven months staunchly defending all actions by officers, regardless of the circumstances, starting with the aftermath of the Mario Woods shooting in December. Even frequent cop defender C.W. Nevius thinks Halloran is a blowhard and instigator and has said as much a number of times. But now activist, Frisco Five member, and District 9 Supervisor candidate Edwin Lindo has come out with some strong words for Halloran and the union he represents. "What the POA has done needs to be brought to light and we need to show the world that we aren't going to stand for it anymore," he says in the video above. And in a companion post on Medium, Lindo writes directly to Halloran saying, "You and your mob-like leadership of the San Francisco Police Officer Association have proven to be a rotten influence in our beautiful city, preventing us from being the progressive champion we should be."
Lindo's new salvo comes in direct response to one of Halloran's newsletter editorials, this one published June 1, titled "Calling San Francisco's Silent Majority: Isn't It Time To Send Some Inept Politicians Packing." Regarding the fatal shootings of Woods, Luis Gongora, and Jessica Williams, Halloran writes, "The last three Officer Involved Shootings in this city would not have occurred if those subjects complied with lawful police commands, dropped their weapons, and surrendered."
The trouble is, video evidence has strongly suggested that neither Woods nor Gongora posed immediate threats to officers, and that officers shot quickly and impulsively without any effort at de-escalation. And in the case of Williams, there has been no evidence that she was armed. She was simply refusing to get out of a stolen vehicle, one which posed no apparent threat to officers according to early reports (the investigation is ongoing).
Lindo writes, "Victim blaming is not ok," and "In every killing since Alex Nieto, all reasonable options were not exhausted. The death of Jessica Williams (Nelson) resulted as a direct consequence of Sergeant Ebd believing he had the right to execute another human being."
And when Halloran tries to dismiss the hunger strike with scare quotes and calling it political theater, Lindo isn't having it.
The five of us went on a hunger strike not for political theatre, but to show that after Luis Gongora Pat’s death, we were not going to stand for any more. From the sounds of it, you seem intimidated by the strength demonstrated by the people who exercise their first amendment right don’t be; those chants you hear are our ancestors speaking justice through us. We’ll all be better off as a result of justice, I promise.
Now, chances are, Lindo and Halloran are two people who won't ever hear each other.
But while others have tried to be diplomatic in dealing with Halloran's unwavering defenses of officers' rights to shoot civilians without consequence, it's refreshing to hear someone go toe-to-toe with him for once.