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Peaceful protest to condemn SF police killing of 21-year-old carjacking suspect ends in Tenderloin

Protesters pictured at Eddy Street after marching from Otis and Gough streets. (Courtesy of Hoodline Tips)
By Matt Charnock - Published on October 13, 2020.

In response to the police killing of 21-year-old Cesar Vargas — who was allegedly trying to carjack a vehicle at Market and Gough streets Saturday evening when he was killed by San Francisco police — a peaceful rally and protest was held near Hayes Valley Monday night to denounce police brutality.

The march — which proceeded along Market and Gough streets before ending at the SFPD Tenderloin Station — was also held to call for an end to the killing of brown and Black people by law enforcement. Many rally members shouted "hands up, don't shoot,” according to one Hoodline tipster.

Nearby residents in the Tenderloin also reportedly shouted “go home” to demonstrators; pictures from the happening prove that request was not heeded.

According to an SFPD statement released Sunday, officers responded to a call of an attempted carjacking at Market and Gough streets just before 11:30 p.m. Saturday. It was purported that the male suspect had a knife on him. Officers located the person before they were pursued along Otis Street, at which point SFPD attempted to detain them; the male individual was then struck by gunfire in a fatal officer-involved shooting soon after.

As the Examiner reports, the man was pronounced dead on the scene despite attempts by on-site officers to medically revive him. He was later identified as 21-year-old Cesar Vargas of Fairfield, California by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Officer.

In response to the killing, Defund SFPD — a joint civil project between the SF Afrosocialist Caucus and the Democratic Socialists of America’s SF Justice Committee — organized a peaceful street protest at 7:30 p.m. Monday night. Broke-Ass-Stuart notes that around 150 people marched in the protest that included a “small face-off” at the SFPD Tenderloin Station between police and demonstrators — but it was fleeting and resulted in no conflict.  

The Bay Area has always served as an urban nexus for political activism and social change, but the past few years (and especially over these past few months) have proven particularly active. 

To that point: it’s also worth mentioning that the US Crisis Monitor — a joint project between Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University — has collected data from over 10,000 protests that transpired between May and August of this year. Of those, less than 570 (about 5 percent) resulted in any sort of violence from demonstrators. In that estimate, the US Crisis Monitor, which aims to “bring clarity to crisis” doesn’t’ explicitly state the exact reason for each episode of force; some may have been conducted in self-defense.

The overwhelming majority of protests, both here in the Bay Area and nationally, continue to remain peaceful — and do not (and have not) collectively produced spikes in COVID-19.

This case is being investigated by several city law enforcement and legal agencies, one among them being the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, and a town hall meeting is expected to be held soon. Per the SFPD, the entire incident was captured on the officers' body-worn cameras — however, the footage and exact details of the shooting have not been released.

The identities of the officer (or officers) involved in the shooting have also yet to be released by SFPD.

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