Photo by Andy via Flickr, Creative Commons License
(Note: person pictured is not Donovan Reid)
Allegations made this week by Donovan Reid raise serious questions about police using excessive force against someone biking. Whether Mr. Reid was following the law or not, no one should have to fear being beaten by those employed by our City to serve and protect.
Earlier this week, Donovan Reid reported on Facebook that he was delivering food by bicycle for work and using his phone’s navigation app when a San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officer detained him for texting while biking. Reid says he informed the officer that he was not texting, but using his navigation app.
Reid began using his phone to record the interaction with the officer when the officer “grabbed [his] shirt collar and started punching [him] in [his] stomach.” Reid indicates he was also maced, slammed on the ground, and had the officer’s knee placed on his back.
A witness arrived and began filming as Reid says the officer was joined by others, who began beating his legs with a baton. At the hospital, Reid received x-rays which he indicates show a bone chip in his knee from the beating by officers. While hospitalized, he also received citations from the officers, for using his phone while bicycling, riding without brakes and riding without a visible rear reflector.
We know that the SFPD remains far short of its promises to focus traffic enforcement on the most dangerous traffic violations. A majority of traffic deaths and severe injuries in SF result from people driving speeding, running red lights, running stop signs, failing to yield to people walking and violating turn restrictions. Instead of keeping their Vision Zero promises and focusing traffic enforcement on these violations, the SFPD’s leadership is overseeing crackdowns on people biking and yet another alleged instance of excessive use of force against a person of color. If the officers allegedly responsible for beating Mr. Reid were instead focused on the five most dangerous traffic behaviors, we would all be safer for it.
The SFPD’s Vision Zero promise to the people of San Francisco was that they would focus at least 50 percent of all traffic citations on the five most dangerous violations. In SFPD’s Southern Station, which oversees the area where Mr. Reid was allegedly beaten by police, the proportion of traffic citations for the five most dangerous behaviors has actually fallen over the most recent year of data. From November 2014 to November 2015, Southern Station’s Focus on the Five tickets dropped from 24 percent of all traffic citations to just 16 percent.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is working to hold the SFPD to their promises for safer streets through the Bike Yield Law, which would require the SFPD to treat citing dangerous traffic violations as a higher priority than citing people biking in ways that threaten no one. SF’s Bike Yield Law has been passed and awaits action by Mayor Ed Lee. Please write Mayor Lee today, and ask him to sign the Bike Yield Law and give the SFPD the direction to focus on delivering safer streets, rather than permitting continued chaos under the SFPD’s present leadership: email@example.com.