Are South City Police Being Unfairly Vilified?

Do signs reading "Stop Police Violence" counteract community healing in the wake of Derrick Gaines' death?

On Wednesday afternoon, as friends and family of Derrick Gaines started to gather at the Arco gas station on Westborough Boulevard where he died Tuesday night for a vigil to mourn him, a woman walked by the makeshift memorial and removed a sign that read "Stop Police Violence."

The reaction was immediate: Gaines' friends, mostly teenagers, rushed toward the woman in anger; another person snatched the sign back. The teens shouted at the woman until Gaines' family members stepped in and asked them to fall back.

"We have to honor Derrick," said Gaines' mother, Rachel Guido Red. "We're not going to be violent." 

A South San Francisco police officer after he ran away from the officer and allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband. Since then, there has there has been an outpouring of grief for Gaines and for another violent teenage death in the community.

But at the same time, reactions have been mixed and heated. This can be seen , where some commenters have strongly criticized for police for what they call needless violence while others have defended police actions and questioned why a teenager would be armed.

In a recent email, a Patch reader called the "Stop Police Violence" sign "divisive" and said she had asked the Arco gas station owner to remove it (not wanting to get involved, he declined). She praised the SSFPD for its school liaisons and Police Explorers program that reach out to youth in the community.

This reader placed her own sign at the memorial, which can be seen at the top right. It contained messages of mourning, such as "God Bless Derrick & those who loved him!!" but also read: "We are NOT a community with police violence!!!! Let's wait for the investigation and instead say a prayer for Derrick & his family!!"

Her sign, along with others at the site, was removed.

What do you think? Do you think that police are being misrepresented in the wake of the shooting? Is it incendiary to criticize police, even harshly, or is it simply a part of grieving? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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