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Are 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.

Tess June 12, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Dee Dee - I agree with Stu. You were right on target until you say the "public - we are all at falt". Not true at all. The parents - who for unknown reasons did not riase Derrick but are here now claiming him - are the ones responsible for bringing him into the world and for his upbringing.
Dee Dee June 12, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Someone knew he had a gun. Someone knew he was hanging out with the wrong kids. An acquaintance of my sons was drinking, doing drugs, cutting school. I sat down one day and talked to him without his Mom there (who had no idea what was going on because her husband ran out and left her with 3 kids and two jobs). I then met with his Mom and between the two of us, we tagged teamed him to keep him in line and I'm proud to say he went back to school, hasn't been in trouble in 2 yrs and has a 3.2 gpa. And all I can think of is what would have happened if that one person-me-had not stopped and taken an interest. That is what I mean by "all of us". Too many people who could make a difference in a childs life walk away. Not my problem, he has family, if his parents can't take of him, they shouldn't have had him. It comes down to the child needs help, and it wasn't his choice to be born. Imagine if we eached help a child early enough in their life to make a difference. Yes, there are bad kids, but most end up in trouble but don't know how to get out of it. It's just so sad.
Mike June 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I don’t agree with the perception that “we are all at fault". Those who had knowledge that this kid had a gun, or those individuals who should have known are at fault. They alone share in the culpability and guilt for his death. I believe the "it takes a village to raise a child" mentality is flawed. It takes a committed, morale, loving and at times strict parent to raise a child. I have two adult sons, and was not always popular with them. That was OK with me as I only wanted to be their father. My reward for what some might term “harshness” was that I have two sons who are responsible adults and good citizens. One is a home owner father of 4, who has advised me that if I wasn’t so “hard on him” he’d never had been as successful as he is. My other son is a US Marine Sargent with 8 years of service to our country to his credit. It was not the “system” or society that failed this kid; it was those who were charged with acting in his best interests. That would be his father and mother and the person who the parents delegated their responsibility to. When our sons and daughters are “out of our sight” and away from our influence no matter how good of a job we’ve done there is no guarantee they will act as we’d like them to. However, there is a great deal to be said about virtuous moral teachings, good disciplinary practices, and knowing who your son or daughter associate with. FYI: I was a self-supporting, single custodial parent.
Mike June 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM
I don’t agree with the perception that “we are all at fault". Those who had knowledge that this kid had a gun, or those individuals who should have known are at fault. They alone share in the culpability and guilt for his death. I believe the "it takes a village to raise a child" mentality is flawed. It takes a committed, morale, loving and at times strict parent to raise a child. I have two adult sons, and was not always popular with them. That was OK with me as I only wanted to be their father. My reward for what some might term “harshness” was that I have two sons who are responsible adults and good citizens. One is a home owner father of 4, who has advised me that if I wasn’t so “hard on him” he’d never had been as successful as he is. My other son is a US Marine Sargent with 8 years of service to our country to his credit. It was not the “system” or society that failed this kid; it was those who were charged with acting in his best interests. That would be his father and mother and the person who the parents delegated their responsibility to. When our sons and daughters are “out of our sight” and away from our influence no matter how good of a job we’ve done there is no guarantee they will act as we’d like them to. However, there is a great deal to be said about virtuous moral teachings, good disciplinary practices, and knowing who your son or daughter associate with. FYI: I was a self-supporting, single custodial parent.
drew September 19, 2012 at 06:06 AM
There were no bullets and he tripped thats when he coulve caught caughr up to him and put him in juvy vut instead he shot him to death while he was on the ground

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