By Tim Maguire/The Guardsman
Hundreds gathered Nov. 19 protesting police brutality in response to the assault and arrest of City College student D’Paris Charles “DJ” Williams by undercover police officers in the Mission District.
Community members organized the protest to call attention to what many people of color in the neighborhood have to live with every day.
The controversy centers around whether Williams initially resisted the officers, causing them to act on suspicion of wrongdoing, and if they presented their badges during his arrest.
Contradictory accounts of the incident may tell a different story.
“The police violated every single human right of those kids, and it’s up to us to get justice,” Selina Rodriguez, sister of the arrested Orlando Rodriguez, said. “We are not a ghetto community. We’re just trying to live and raise our children.”
The ralliers marched in the rain from Valencia Gardens to the Mission Police Station chanting “Stop Police Brutality!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
At least 50 police officers were present for the march, taking positions on both sides of the block, with motorcycle officers controlling traffic and police SUVs and a paddywagon following from the rear.
“We’re not hurting anyone. Please do not get in the police’s face. We are staying on the sidewalk, not blocking traffic,” Selina Rodriguez said, as she attempted to control the incensed crowd.
A line of about a dozen officers stood guard in front of the station.
Protesters carried signs that read “Stop Racial Police Brutality” and “No Justice!” with pictures of the bloodied victims.
Williams, 20, left the Civic Center after the Nov. 15 Batkid event to visit family at the Valencia Gardens public housing complex, when plainclothes officers attempted to stop him for riding his bike on the sidewalk.
Three officers got out of an unmarked car and ordered Williams to stop. When he didn’t comply, possibly due to wearing headphones as seen in video footage of the incident, the cops shoved him from behind into the front door to his sister’s house.
Hearing the commotion, Williams’ sister Christina opened the door holding a small child and confronted the officers. Other residents came out of their homes and also confronted officers who were attempting to restrain Williams.
Orlando Rodriquez, 25, blood smeared across his face, was arrested as well as Antoine Bradford, 22, and Masai Bradford, 24.
Williams spent the weekend in jail, but all charges have been dropped against the four arrested men.
San Francisco Police Department public information officer Gordon Shyy said the officers acted justly, showed their badges and used “reasonable force” to detain the victims.
The website PoliceOne, a law enforcement site, reported that Williams bit one of the officers during the initial contact, whereas other media sites reported that another resident bit the officer after Williams was detained.
There are also reports of a man striking an officer with a cane, justifying their use of reasonable force.
“(The officers) are thinking, ‘Does this person have a gun? Is the bicycle stolen? Is the person up to something else?’” San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr told local ABC7.
All that police found on Williams was a cupcake and a juice, bought from a nearby store on the way home.