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SF’s Police Shooting Protest Was Peaceful; 93% of BLM Protests Are

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About 150 people marched in San Francisco Monday night in protest against the police killing of an alleged carjacking suspect. The crowd was small, but their demand of police was clear: Stop shooting Black and brown people. 

The story, according to a police statement, is that officers responded to a call on an attempted carjacking at Market and Gough streets just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday. It was allegedly reported that the suspect, later identified as Cesar Vargas of Fairfield, had a knife in his possession. Officials said officers located the suspect and pursued him to Otis Street, where they attempted to detain him. It was at that point when an officer-involved shooting occurred and Vargas was fatally struck by gun fire. 

According to the statement, the officers rendered him medical aid but the 21-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene. Few details surrounding circumstances of the shooting have been given, including whether he posed a threat to officers, himself or others nearby. However, the incident was captured on body-worn camera and police officials said more information would be released within 10 days of the shooting. 

The Monday march began at the was held at the Market and Gough streets intersection and ended up at San Francisco Police Department’s Tenderloin station. There was a small face-off at the station between police and demonstrators, but it broke up shortly after without incident.

Protests in San Francisco tend to go that way in recent years — the city is not exactly the hub of militant civic action it once was, but Monday night’s march was a lot like most demonstrations across the country. Contrary to right-wing media and political rhetoric, an overwhelming majority of Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd’s death have been peaceful. 

A Black Lives Matter protest in San Francisco, Calif. on June 3, 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s death. (Photo by Mark Sebastian)

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit research group, analyzed protests held across the nation in wake of George Floyd’s death. Researchers found that of more than 7,750 BLM demonstrations, less than 7 percent erupted in violence, which they define as “acts targeting other individuals, property, businesses, other rioting groups or armed actors.” That’s not at all the impression Fox News or GOP political operatives have given with their selective footage of burning, looting and fighting in city streets. 

The reality is that most civic actions for racial justice, with small and large crowds, go without much notice and without any violence. Right-wing media chooses to ignore demonstrations like what was seen Monday night — the peaceful protests just don’t fit the narrative that all protesters are “terrorists.” 

The angle has worked to some degree for a poll-challenged president seeking re-election — his base is rallied around anti-BLM/Antifa fear-mongering, casting every protest as a riot capable of burning down whole cities.

The propaganda has had an unfortunate impact on the nation’s support for the BLM movement, which dropped by 12 points between early and late summer, according to a poll conducted by Pew Research Center. 


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.