The David Campos Story: Making Sure that All people are heard

POOR correspondent - Posted on 18 June 2010

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"There is a legislation of an immigrant's Municipal I.D Card. We want to make sure that the police department (San Francisco Police Department) acknowledge immigrant rights."

In the upcoming November 2008 election for District 9's current incumbent, Tom Ammiano's seat, San Francisco Board of Police Commissioner David Campos voiced his concerns regarding a number of issues, including immigrant rights here, in San Francisco, CA to my fellow POOR Magazine comrades.

This was during POOR's Community Newsroom, on November 6th, 2007. Tom Amiano's District consists of the Mission District, Bernal Heights and Portola neighborhoods. David Campos, himself, was an undocumented immigrant when he arrived here in the U.S with his family, from Guatemala at age 14.

Campos also briefly discussed an S.R.O Hotel (Single Room Occupancy) presentation that was going to be on the following day, at the San Francisco Police Commission, at S.F City Hall.

I referenced David Campos' address to my POOR comrades, in regards to this long anticipated presentation of San Francisco Police Department members and their interaction with people (including myself) who live in S.R.O Hotels in the City of San Francisco.

"It's David's commitment as a police commissioner in getting the police department to know the community of Bernal Heights better, is why we were able to get things done regarding community policing." John Perry, a Bernal Heights resident boomed his voice to a large "Campos 2008" capacity crowd at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, in San Francisco's Mission District, on November 29th, 2007.

Among the many in attendance was fellow San Francisco Police Commissioner, Petra DeJesus, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, John Perry, Axis of Love executive director, Shona Gouchenaur, District 9 Supervisor, Tom Ammiano, David Campo's family, and your's truly from POOR Magazine.

When I asked him in a follow up interview what motivated his run for District 9, Campos replied, "I am running for Supervisor because I believe that the most disenfranchised people in District 9 (the poor, immigrants, the homeless, working families) need a voice on the Board of Supervisors."

"I was an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who came here with nothing. For many years, my family struggled to make ends meet. After a lot of work and the support of my family, friends and my community, I managed to put myself through college and law school. As an attorney, I also brought the perspective and knowledge of how to get things done, as evidenced by my work on the San Francisco Police Commission, where I have pushed for real and meaningful police reform. I believe that because of my personal and professional experiences, I can be that voice."

David Campos was born in 1970 in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. He came to the United States with his family when he was only 14 years old. As an undocumented immigrant who spoke only Spanish, David grew up in the barrio of South Central Los Angeles. He excelled in his classes, earned scholarships to college and law school, and remained true to his roots as a progressive civil rights advocate and Democratic leader.

He has earned a BA at Stanford, University in 1993 and a Law Degree from Harvard, in 1996. David has served as Lead Counsel to the San Francisco Unified School District from 2004-2007. He has worked to desegregate San Francisco schools, investigated corruption, and bring open government to the School District. Campos has also worked in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, from 1999-2004.

In addition to these accreditations, Campos is Co-chairman of BALIF (Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom) and a Board of Directors member for the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association.

When I asked him of his plans for the immigrant families that are currently going through issues of deportation, he replied, "As Supervisor, I would push for the City and County of San Francisco to help those families. Because the federal and state governments are going after these families, the City and County of San Francisco needs to stand up for them."

"We as a City need to send the clear message that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion whether or not they have papers. The City should develop a support system that gives these families assistance, to give them an opportunity to stay in the country."

Then I questioned his thoughts of the City of San Francisco's attempts towards establishing Municipal Codes for undocumented immigrants, “" assume you're talking about the Municipal ID card." David said. "I totally support it. Most of us take it for granted but having an identification card is critical." "Without it, it's almost as if you don't exist.

Since the federal government and the state government are unwilling to give these individuals a driver's license or some other form of identification, then it is only appropriate for the City to step in and give it to them. My hope is that the identification will allow them to do basic things like opening a checking account, for instance."

I asked him what his thoughts were of a very crucial and critical issue regarding the marijuana debate of cannabis patients here in San Francisco and the protection of their rights, especially in the face of the S.F.P.D, D.E.A, and other law enforcement agencies.

"I believe that we should protect the rights of medical cannabis patients. This is really a human rights issue. It is a very simple. People who need medication should get it. I don't see why the federal government is getting involved in something that is truly a local matter".

The fact is that the people of the State of California and the City and County of San Francisco have spoken, they believe in medical cannabis and the feds should leave patients alone."

I asked Campos how he would address the problems facing youth in San Francisco, and the lack of employment available to them.

"I will work tirelessly (pushing for jobs for the youth) to do that. As someone who once was one of those youth who felt like I didn't have many options, I know the importance of giving our youth a hand". Many of these kids get in trouble because they have no where to go. We as a City need to make an investment in them and develop more programs that allow them to explore their potential, programs that give them options in life."

My next question was something he was all too familiar with for the past two years that I knew him, since he was appointed to being a member of the Board of San Francisco Police Commissioners, in late December of 2005. "Do you feel that there have been changes in the San Francisco Police Department, regarding many complaints and grievances brought by complainants, since you've been on the Board of Police Commissioners?", I asked.

Campos replied, "I believe that there have been positive changes since I became a Police Commissioner. One good example is that for the first time that I can remember, we are developing a program where tenants are going to the Police Academy to give cadets training on tenants' rights."

The goal that I personally pushed for with Campos, and several other members of the S.F Police Commission for two years, was for the department to re-train their police officers with proper conduct assessments and behavior, particularly people of race, class, and poverty status. This was in response to the October 7th, 2005 incident when a dozen members of the S.F.P.D illegally stormed my S.R.O Hotel room without a warrant and with their guns drawn, in a "mistaken identity" scenario.

After 25 months, this S.R.O presentation before the S.F Board of Police Commissioners finally became imminent. "This is happening because commissioners like myself believe that police officers need to hear from the people they serve. It's truly unprecedented that for the first time we are going to have tenants, including SRO tenants, telling police officers about their concerns and problems."

Following the S.R.O Presentation on November 7th, 2007 presented by S.F.P.D Captain Corriea, and Officer Nate Steger of the Mission District Station, Campos, several S.R.O tenants, and I attended the S.F.P.D Citizen's Academy Training for the youth recruits that would be the future of law enforcement, on March 25th, 2008. "Our hope is that as a result of this training, we will have a police department that is more in tune with what tenants in this City deal with on a daily basis. I also hope that this helps develop mutual trust."


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