Tasers Take a Bigger Toll on Black Community

February 25, 2011  |  

(The Grio) — The San Francisco Police Commission recently voted 6-1 to explore the use of Taser devices among law enforcement agencies in the city. Though similar efforts to bring Taser guns to San Francisco were defeated in 2004 and 2010, the Police Commission had a change of heart, with many of its city leaders supporting the idea.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee went on record as supporting “researching Tasers” in an effort to “explore possible alternatives to lethal force;” however, Taser guns have not been proven to lower victim shootings, officer-related shootings, or lawsuits. In many cases, Taser guns become just another weapon used disproportionately against African Americans, having little to no impact on the incidence of abuse in our communities.

The debate in San Francisco has grown particularly contentious as a result of several officer-involved shootings of mentally ill people, but the implications of bringing Taser use to San Francisco are much broader. Kevin Martin, the Vice President of the Police Officers Association has challenged San Francisco’s Commission on whether they would like to see “lethal force or nonlethal force…[because] they can’t have it both ways;” but for many African-American communities, Taser use and lethal force are one in the same.

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