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SAN FRANCISCO – Amid San Francisco residents' protests against police violence, Bay Area and California civil rights and immigrant rights organizations filed an amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal today urging the court to uphold San Franciscans’ right to live in their home city free of police surveillance and discriminatory targeting. Led by Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, the brief in support of plaintiffs in Williams v. San Francisco recounts how the San Francisco Police Department has illegally surveilled, harassed, and targeted Black, Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, LGBTQ, and immigrant residents for over 150 years to silence dissent and suppress movements for justice. Over this history, as San Franciscans have organized and advocated for a safe, inclusive city, SFPD has repeatedly failed to abide by our anti-surveillance and safety laws.
During the 2020 Uprisings after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, SFPD spied on local activists using 400 cameras spread across one district. Hope Williams, Nathan Sheard, and Nestor Reyes, who participated in San Francisco protests against police violence, sued SFPD to end its abusive surveillance that violates the city’s Surveillance Technology Ordinance. “For generations, SFPD has sidestepped the law to increase its own power, inflict violence on marginalized communities, and silence the voices of families, working people, students, and others who are calling for racial justice, LGBTQ rights, and an end to wars,” said Hammad Alam, national security & civil rights staff attorney and program manager at Asian Law Caucus. “Since the 19th century, two things have stayed constant: SFPD’s use of evolving technologies to more pervasively and insidiously surveil San Franciscans, and San Franciscans’ unwavering condemnation of SFPD’s abuse. SFPD must end its long legacy of abusive and unlawful surveillance and be held to account.”