SF police chief defends arrests of suspected black drug dealers amid racism scandal 

click to enlarge Police Chief Greg Suhr defended the recent arrests of dozens of suspected drug dealers, all of whom were black. - MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Police Chief Greg Suhr defended the recent arrests of dozens of suspected drug dealers, all of whom were black.
Under scrutiny over allegations of racial bias in his department, Police Chief Greg Suhr on Friday defended the recent arrests of dozens of suspected Tenderloin drug dealers, all of whom are black.

Since 2013, a total of 37 people have been arrested in "Operation Safe Schools," a joint effort between the San Francisco Police Department and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on drug dealing near schools.

All 37 suspects are black, federal defense attorneys revealed last week.

Most allegedly sold small amounts of crack cocaine or other drugs to a confidential informant.

The suspects were all charged with felonies in federal court rather than state court, meaning recently passed laws like Proposition 47 meant to deal more leniently with low-level drug offenders do not apply.

Instead, the defendants face stiff federal mandatory minimum charges.

Federal defense attorneys say the fact that all the defendants are black is a clear sign of racial bias. They have filed motions to have some of the cases dropped.

Suhr -- who is moving to fire at least six veteran officers for sending bigoted text messages that included racist hate speech -- rejected the notion that race played a role in the arrests.

"The one thing those folks all had in common was drug dealing in and around schools," Suhr said Friday. “They all deserved to be arrested. If you sell drugs around a school in San Francisco … you belong in jail.”

There are no San Francisco Unified School District schools in the Tenderloin, the defense attorneys pointed out.

Less than 6 percent of San Francisco residents are black, while 56 percent of people arrested in The City are black, Public Defender Jeff Adachi has said.

Suhr did say of Operation Safe Schools that one officer will be investigated by the Police Department over a remark made during the stings.

The incident was captured on video surveillance, and it involved two unidentified officers filming a two black men and two black women. One officer “is heard loudly stating “fucking BMs [black males],” before the other officer says, “shh, hey, I'm rolling,’” according to court filings.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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