Dec 6, 2022 - News

Lethal police robots in San Francisco draw protest

Police officers standing in front of rally outside city hall where protesters are holding sign that says "No killer robots"

Rally at City Hall on Monday to protest police policy to use robots for lethal force. Photo: Shirin Mori/Electronic Frontier Foundation

Members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation was among those at a rally outside City Hall Monday to demand a halt to a program to allow "killer robots."

Driving the news: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week voted 8-3 to approve an ordinance allowing the city's police department to use robots for lethal force.

What they're saying: Board president Shamann Walton attended the rally, stating it was important to take a stand now or risk continuing "to weaponize police departments versus focus on the reform that we've all fought for for decades."

Between the lines: Supervisor Dean Preston, who voted against the ordinance along with Walton and Hillary Ronen,, has said Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Police Department violated state law by presenting the policy to the BOS without giving the public 30 days' notice.

  • Allison Maxie, a spokesperson for the SFPD, said the department does not have a response to Preston, but pointed Axios to a Dec. 1 press release that said the use of robots for lethal force, if enacted, would be "a last resort option."
  • Breed's office did not return Axios' request for comment.

What's next: The Board of Supervisors will take a final vote on the ordinance on Tuesday.

  • Supervisor Gordon Mar, who voted "yes" last week on the ordinance, said Monday he will change his vote at Tuesday's meeting. "I do not think removing the immediacy and humanity of taking a life and putting it behind a remote control is a reasonable step for a municipal police force."

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