Monday, San Francisco city and community leaders gathered in the Tenderloin district for a call for action in the wake of three homicides where black women were killed within a month’s time.
“Any homicide in the city is difficult and inexcusable,” activist Geoffrea Morris told Fox 2 KTVU, “but when we look at the last 30 days, three women, three black women ranging from 32 to 35, this is a travesty.”
The Tenderloin district, where the press conference took place, was the site where the city’s first homicide victim of the new year, 32-year-old Emma Hunt, a mother of two (one a newborn, according to Morris) was gunned down on Jan. 5. Her death marked the 3rd of the 3 homicides that sent community activists on their mission.
On Dec. 19, 33-year-old Ronisha Cook was killed. Like Hunt, Cook was also a mother of two and was also fatally shot in the Tenderloin. Less than a week prior, 35-year-old Latanette McDaniel, who was a mother of 7, was stabbed to death in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.
The press conference was attended by San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney who spoke on the violence in neighborhoods like the Tenderloin and how it often goes ignored.
“This is a neighborhood that experiences too much violence, that’s often treated as a containment zone. We reject that,” Haney said. “Every loss of life deserves a response, deserves prevention, but we know that some communities are being impacted more than others.” He continued, “What is most important is that we listen to the leaders within our community, listen to black women in our community, leaders who tell us what we should do to prevent this in the future.”
Supervisor Shamann Walton was also in attendance promising swift action.
“We want everyone to know that we take every violent crime seriously, making sure that the resources to address violence go to the areas and the neighborhoods, communities where we see it,” Walton said, stressing that community policing will be made a priority. “We’re going to put the right resources on the street, more community ambassadors, more officers on foot patrol being a part of the fabric of community and not just for response but actually spending time in communities, so that our neighbors and our families know our officers and they get to be a part of the community that they serve.”
That part about “more officers on foot patrol being a part of the fabric of community and not just for response but actually spending time in communities” is especially important and inspiring to hear because, far too often, when there is a call for more police presence, communities end up bombarded with zealous cops who are indifferent to the needs of the residents of the communities they’re charged with serving outside of making arrests and they end up doing more harm than good.
Morris and other community leaders also said there needs to be a focus on providing easy access to services to those who are most affected by violent crime. The California director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Tinisch Hollins pointed out that in California, one in 10 black residents receive access to victim compensation and services. “We need to be diligent about removing barriers to victims’ compensation, trauma recovery services, and other things that are going to help us heal and restore our communities.”
She also challenged the city to prioritize access to services like domestic violence prevention, as well as social and mental health assistance saying, “We need to prioritize those who are most harmed and least helped, most impacted and that instance we’re speaking specifically about the black community and specifically about black women.”
Finally, Hollins pointed out that, due to these senseless killings, nearly a dozen children have, within a month’s time, been left without their mothers.
“I want to center on the needs of the 11 children,” she said, “who are now remaining motherless, who need our support, who need us to show up, make sure that they continue to thrive and grow and heal.”
The fears and concerns of these community leaders are certainly not unfounded. Since 2018 we’ve seen several reports from publications and black bloggers about black women and girls going missing and receiving little coverage from mainstream media, even as their numbers have reached into the tens of thousands. Less media coverage often goes hand-in-hand with insufficient investigation.
Like Geoffrea Morris and the other leaders who joined her call to action, I’m tired of seeing black female victims ignored and underserved. I want to see justice be as blind as it claims to be.