Following some negative social media attention about using Muni buses to help transport cops in riot gear to quell protests, the SFMTA pledged to stop doing that in a tweet. Today, the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) told the transit agency to "lose our number."
While the SFPD and its chief have a delicate political dance to pull off as there are increasingly loud calls to "defund the police" here and elsewhere in the country, the typically bombastic POA has no such concerns. And in a Twitter spat on Wednesday, the POA reacted to the SFMTA's pledge to stop transporting officers to protests in the most caustic way possible.
"Hey Muni, lose our number next time you need officers for fare evasion enforcement or removing problem passengers from your buses and trains," the union writes. "Shouldn't be [as SFPD] officer's job anyway."
Well, the POA is making the "defund" argument for their opponent there — much of the discussion around defunding police departments centers around finding alternative agencies and entities to deal with various things police are called to do that do not relate to violent crime.
But here's how the sequence went.
First, there were posts like this circling around the Twitter-sphere.
Then Muni put up three pledges on Tuesday for what it will do to "address systemic racism as a part of our day-to-day work at the agency," which included recognizing 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence and no service to honor George Floyd on the day of his funeral.
They also pledged to stop carrying SFPD officers on buses to anti-police brutality protests.
Today at noon, we will pause our work for eight minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd. This symbolic action reflects the SFMTA’s efforts to address systemic racism as a part of our day-to-day work at the agency. pic.twitter.com/R6ClUhN3bV— SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) June 9, 2020
And 3. The SFMTA will no longer transport SFPD to anti-police brutality protests.— SFMTA (@sfmta_muni) June 9, 2020
Then the police union reacted on Wednesday:
Hey Muni, lose our number next time you need officers for fare evasion enforcement or removing problem passengers from your buses and trains. Shouldn't be a @SFPD officer's job anyway. @SFPDChief should stop using us for this. https://t.co/ykOpzo4O4Y— San Francisco POA (@SanFranciscoPOA) June 10, 2020
SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin tells KPIX that the decision to stop transporting cops to protests came after much internal discussion. "That is our job, serving other city agencies, said SFMTA Director of Transportation. When serving other departments gets in the way of our core mission, we have to stop and question that."
And Supervisor Aaron Peskin minced no words in reacting to the POA's tweet, saying, “I would like to condemn in the strongest terms this tweet … That is dereliction of duty.”
The Chronicle spoke to outspoken POA President Tony Montoya, who said, "Muni seems to be jumping on the bandwagon, buying into and spreading the rhetoric that’s not true. But if Muni doesn’t want us, maybe we shouldn’t be responding to the person sleeping in the back of the coach at the end of the night. Maybe we shouldn’t respond to fare evasion. ... They can’t have it both ways."
Photo: John Bate/Twitter