I'm just finishing up my radio report on tonight's town hall meeting at the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco's Bayview district, organized in response to Saturday's police shooting of 19-year-old parolee Kenneth Harding. The standing-room-only event degenerated into chaos and started clearing out soon after SFPD Chief Greg Suhr took the podium. Eventually he had enough and walked out after about an hour of trying to be heard.
Suhr used to be captain of the Bayview District police station before becoming chief. But that apparently wasn't enough street cred to satisfy many in the crowd. He barely got a minute into describing the events that led to Saturday's shooting before several angry residents shouted him down. Suhr backed away from the podium, and it wasn't long before a string of shouting attendees replaced him.
To my knowledge there were no incidents or arrests; all of the officers inside the Opera House were dressed in standard patrol uniforms and kept pretty calm. In the end the chief dismissed the meeting's chaos as a distraction from the ongoing work of making Bayview safer and more livable.
Here's the Bay Citizen's video of the meeting, from the time Suhr started speaking. He is soon interrupted, to the point where he stops and leaves the podium.
I talked to him briefly just after he left the meeting, surrounded by a cadre of SFPD officers, asking him what the next step was. "We're so committed to the Bayview community," Suhr told me. "We just keep going, we just keep working with the community of the Bayview. People are upset, an act of violence happened on their town square."
Suhr also stood up for the police involved in the shooting. "The police officers put themselves between a dangerous criminal and the public. It's never a good thing when anybody gets killed, but I don't think the officers signed up to get killed either."