A whistleblower in the San Francisco Police Department has been targeted by her police union for publicly calling out the department for what she describes as a pattern of racism.
She says she now fears for her safety, from other cops, while on patrol.
Sgt. Yulanda Williams was was one of two African American police officers who were mentioned by name in a series of racist text messages that were sent by a group of fellow police officers. Those text messages emerged last year in court filings, related to departmental racism.
Williams is one of the only police officers to ever participate in the Blue Ribbon Panel on police bias. That panel was formed by District Attorney George Gascon after a number of incidents with the San Francisco Police Department proved they had a serious problem with racism on their force.
Williams has also headed an organization called Officers for Justice, which seeks to out dirty cops, and those with overt biases that prevent them from impartially doing their jobs.
But Williams says these activities have made her the target of other officers and the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
The SFPO claims that there is no systemic or systematic bias among police ranks.
They have even called out Williams for claiming otherwise, pointing to her by name.
On January 20th, the SFPO wrote a letter that was directly addressed to Williams which they sent to all officers who are members of the union.
President Martin Halloran said in the letter “don’t like some of the comments” Williams had made in front of Gascon’s Blue Ribbon panel.
“The POA is disturbed about some of your comments and accusations: For example, you claim that racism is ‘widespread’ within our department,” the letter stated. “The POA disagrees. While a handful of officers engaged in racist and homophobic text messaging — and were condemned for doing so by the [POA] and by me personally — there is no evidence that racism is widespread throughout the department.”
On January 14th, Williams had testified that she had witnessed firsthand, fellow officers using racial bias in their policing. She said that this is a widespread problem, and not an isolated incident.
“I’m black and I will never be blue enough,” she told the panel. “I will never be able to prove to them that I deserve to wear the same uniform that they do.”
Williams says that since the letter targeting her, she has concerns that fellow officers will at the very least not support her if her life is in jeopardy.
“It leaves me with a sense of uneasiness to the point that I am wondering how safe of an environment I might be in and if, when I call for backup, how fast will backup come.”
Williams says that the letter by the police union was “a personal attack against me and my constitutional rights of freedom of speech. It sends a clear message that when you go against what they believe in you are then considered an outsider, an outcast and they attempt to slander your name.”
Do you agree with her?
(Article by M. David and S. Wooten; image by #Op309 Media)