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Bay Area Public Defenders Protest As Part Of Nationwide Day Of Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - Employees with the San Francisco Public Defender's Office knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds on Monday outside the Hall of Justice in honor of George Floyd -- an unarmed black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police two weeks ago.

The action, organized by the office's Racial Justice Committee, was part of a nationwide day of solidarity involving at least 70 other public defender offices in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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(Photo by Sam Richards)

"This is a call to action for justice; justice here in San Francisco and around the country," Deputy Public Defender Niki Solis said. "We call on our Mayor (London Breed) to nominate police commissioners who are committed to change; candidates who are committed to change and reform and have a track record of that commitment; not a prosecutor; not a political ally. We want police reform and police accountability," she said.

Solis also called on Breed to reallocate police funds toward programs that promote economic growth in the city's underserved neighborhoods.

"Our message is clear. Stop killing us. Stop killing our children, our fathers, our mothers, our sisters," Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets said. "It's seems like such a simple thing to ask but such a hard thing for police to stop doing."

"We need transparency," Public Defender Mano Raju said.

Raju said that since Floyd's death, hundreds of residents have flooded his email, advocating for city resources to be allocated away from law enforcement and toward community organizations.

"We at the Public Defender's Office hear you. But it's not just the police. Those we represent are booked by the Police Department, charged by the DA, jailed by the Sheriff's Department and sometimes held in state prison," he said.

"We need to examine every single aspect of this system and see where resources can be reallocated for equity for the black community and other disenfranchised communities," he said. "We need co-conspirators and allies from all backgrounds who want to help us continue the struggle for justice and racial equity, in our communities, our courtrooms, in Sacramento and nationally."

Contra Costa County public defenders and their supporters held their own rally and march in Martinez on Monday, with hundreds of people going to the county jail there and shouting the names of black people killed by police, including Miles Hall of Walnut Creek.

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