A man yells "black lives matter" at a peaceful protest Friday that started at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza and ended at City Hall.  Natalie Yemenidjian/KQED
A man yells "black lives matter" at a peaceful protest Friday that started at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza and ended at City Hall.  (Natalie Yemenidjian/KQED)

Hundreds Demand Police Accountability in San Francisco March

Hundreds Demand Police Accountability in San Francisco March

More than 1,000 people marched from the Embarcadero up Market Street to City Hall Friday in a protest against police killings.

At San Francisco's iconic corner of Market and Powell Streets, where tourists usually catch street cars and jewelry displays line the sidewalks, protesters stopped and sat quietly in the street, some crying, for a reading of the names of people killed by police over six months this year in America.

The reading and recitation of names took about two minutes.

Among them, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota were killed this week by on-duty officers. They are two of 509 people killed by police this year.

Sponsored

People got up and continued toward City Hall. One group chanted as they marched: "These racist cops have got to go," while police marched along side them, ensuring their right to protest.

The air was especially charged after five police officers were killed by a sniper and seven others shot in Dallas, Texas Thursday.

A San Francisco Police Officer looks on as protestors chant: "These racist cops have got to go."
A San Francisco Police Officer looks on as protestors chant: "These racist cops have got to go."

"Everything feels like it's reaching a boiling point," said San Francisco native Sean Ilumin, who also said he took comfort in seeing a diverse group come together.

Dobbae Thorne looked around at the crowd and said it's important for her to be there. The lack of black folks at the demonstration was indicative of San Francisco's population for Thorne, with barely six percent of the city identifying as black, according to the 2013 U.S. Census.

Jason Juniel rides at the front of the march from Embarcadero to City Hall Friday evening in San Francisco.
Jason Juniel rides at the front of the march from Embarcadero to City Hall Friday evening in San Francisco. (Natalie Yemenidjian/KQED)

"All these people holding signs can walk around without getting their head bashed in by police," said Thorne.

By 8 o'clock, at its zenith, the protest stretched some three blocks long and had shut down Market Street to traffic.

Drew Rivers, 20, a San Francisco native said systematic racism is a part of his life "every day, every week."

"My heart aches for my people," Rivers said. "I want people to know, we're here and we're very much alive."

Drew Rivers, 20, who was born and raised in San Francisco, said "my heart aches."
Drew Rivers, 20, who was born and raised in San Francisco, said "my heart aches."

As San Francisco Police Department Officers lined up along the City Center Plaza, Imani Brown of Bernal Heights, stood silent in front of them with a sign that read: "Stop killing black people."

Imani Brwon, 37, from Bernal Heights holds up a sign that says: "Stop killing black people," to a few dozen SFPD officers in front of City Hall Friday.
Imani Brwon, 37, from Bernal Heights holds up a sign that says: "Stop killing black people," to a few dozen SFPD officers in front of City Hall Friday.

Brown said: "We need to value black mothers' children just as much as white mothers' children."

Once demonstrators reached City Hall, protesters rigged up a makeshift sound system with bullhorns, and moved through the crowd.

Devon Parks said he was there to bring a presence to the protests. "We should have equality."
Devon Parks said he was there to bring a presence to the protests. "We should have equality."

People took to the mic to speak about injustice and civil rights.

The crowd became utterly silent as one person after another told stories of their personal experiences of police harassment. Some read poems, others told tragic family histories at the steps of City Hall.

"To be a black man anywhere right now at the hands of the justice system is scary," Devon Parks of San Jose said. "We should have equality."