Black San Franciscans disproportionately targeted by SFPD curfew arrests, records show

Black San Franciscans disproportionately targeted by SFPD curfew arrests, records showPhoto: Dale Cruse/Flickr
Camden Avery
Published on June 25, 2020

While enforcing San Francisco's protest-related curfew in early June, SFPD disproportionately targeted Black citizens for arrest, city data shows

The data was requested anonymously under the city's Sunshine Ordinance, and shared by a source with Hoodline. It shows that during the five days of curfew — from May 31 to June 4 — 110 people were cited and 30 people were arrested by police for violating the curfew.

28% of the former group and 43% of the latter group were Black, even though African-Americans represent only 5% of San Francisco's population. 

Meanwhile, white people were underrepresented in both citations and arrests in comparison to their population size. 41% of those cited and 30% of those arrested were white. White people represent 45% of San Francisco's population.

In all, 31% of overall citations and bookings during curfew fell on black San Franciscans, nearly as many as the 39% of the total that white San Franciscans accounted for.

This means police confronted Black citizens for breaking curfew at a rate of over six times the percentage that would be indicated by the city's demographic distribution.

And of people actually arrested by the police, 43% were Black compared to 30% white — meaning Black citizens were more likely to be physically detained, rather than cited and released, than white ones.

Image: Anonymous/Hoodline Tipline

Mayor London Breed implemented the May 31 curfew in response to "incidents of vandalism and violence" in the protests that have gripped the country since the death of George Floyd. (Her office did not respond to a request for comment on the statistics.)

The curfew gave the San Francisco Police Department the power to cite and book anyone outside after 8 p.m., unless they could prove that they were going to or from work. 

Like departments around the country, SFPD has been under the spotlight for years for racism in its ranks. But the disparity in the curfew arrests is particularly glaring in light of the protests against police racism that prompted it.

In response to the statistics, SFPD spokesperson Robert Rueca said that all of the people detained were "reasonably believed to be committing criminal acts." He noted that legally, anyone standing outside after 8 p.m. would be self-evidently committing a crime.

"What we do know is, there was a lot of damage done to businesses and a lot of looting done after the peaceful protesters had finished doing their marches and their assemblies," he said.