April Green, the aunt of SFPD shooting victim Keita O'Neil, crashed today's Tyre Nichols event after being invited and then disinvited from speaking by organizer Phelicia Jones. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

A City Hall gathering of politicians and activists recognizing Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man brutally killed by Memphis police this month, temporarily devolved into mayhem on Wednesday.  

That came after April Green, the aunt of San Francisco Police Department shooting victim Keita O’Neil, decried the event as exclusionary. After being disinvited last night from speaking at the event by organizer Phelicia Jones, Green today burst into the proceedings on the steps of City Hall while Mayor London Breed was speaking. 

“What about my nephew, Keita ‘Icky’ O’Neil?” Green shouted, evoking her nephew’s nickname, alongside supporters with megaphones.“You’re not even taking care of your own city.” 

Moments earlier, Breed had been praising Memphis for holding its officers accountable in Nichols’ death. “An arrest is only one step,” Breed said. Next would come a “lengthy criminal justice process,” during which attention on the case needed to be maintained, she said.

Green and others made it clear on Wednesday that San Francisco and the Mayor’s office are also being watched by the families of victims here.  

O’Neil’s family is in the middle of just such a criminal justice process, but it is not clear whether city leaders praising the goings-on in Memphis are supportive of that process here in San Francisco. 

O’Neil, a carjacking suspect, was shot in the head as he fled police in Bayview in 2017. His killer, rookie officer Christopher Samayoa, was dismissed by the department and charged with homicide by former DA Chesa Boudin. But the current DA administration has been accused of slow-walking the prosecution — and Green’s attorney last week accused the office of DA Brooke Jenkins of, in fact, colluding with Samayoa’s defense team

After the interruption Wednesday, Breed immediately stopped speaking and stepped back. The event organizer, Jones, tried and failed to regain control. Eventually, the DJ began blasting the reggae tune “Solidarity” to drown out the discord. 

Texts between Green and Jones, obtained by Mission Local, show that Jones told Green she could not speak at the event because of her support for former DA Boudin. Green had requested to speak alongside the city figures and other family members of victims of local police violence, but was ultimately told to sit out. 

“You were standing with Chesa for his re-election,” Jones wrote to Green on Tuesday evening. “Maybe this isn’t the right platform for you.” 

When Green texted Jones that they should put political differences aside and fight for police accountability, Jones, the founder of activist organization Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community, texted back: “Please don’t try and tell me what I need to do because I am a lone Black Woman out here fighting for Justice 24/7.” 

Green asked: “Black men have been murdered by SF policemen and need you to stand with them … You stand with a Black man in another state but not your own city?” 

“Whatever,” Jones responded. 

In her own address Wednesday morning, Jones preached unity, and more than once called on the community to “come together.”

Text message from Phelicia Jones to April Green, the aunt of police shooting victim Keita O’Neil.

O’Neil’s aunt wasn’t the only relative of a Black man killed by San Francisco police that Jones did not want speaking today at the Tyre Nichols event. Kenneth Blackmon, the brother of Sean Moore, a mentally ill man who was shot by police on the front steps of his home in 2017, said he went back and forth with Jones about whether he would be permitted to talk. Moore’s killer, Officer Kenneth Cha, was criminally charged by Boudin, but court proceedings in that case have also dragged on. 

Blackmon told Mission Local that Jones first told him he couldn’t speak at today’s rally. “She said, ‘I’m here for the Black people, this, that’ — I said, ‘so am I.’” Blackmon said he was finally given one minute to speak. He and his mother ended up addressing the crowd for several minutes.

When Green disrupted Breed’s speech early in the program, Jones attempted to regain order by ignoring the interruption and drawing attention to her organization, Wealth and Disparities, which she said “has been on the front lines,” and her own “dedication to Black San Franciscans.” Jones claimed she was the one who got Samayoa, the officer who killed O’Neil, fired. 

“You were standing with Chesa for his re-election. Maybe this isn’t the right platform for you.” 

Text from Phelicia Jones to April Green, Jan. 31

“Black men have been murdered by SF policemen and need you to stand with them … You stand with a Black man in another state but not your own city?” 

Text from Green to Jones, Jan. 31

Struggling to keep the audience’s attention, Jones began shouting to the press: “Don’t take pictures of her! Don’t take pictures of her!” Several people in the audience told Green to quiet down, saying she was being disrespectful of the ceremony, which was in honor of Nichols. 

But others in attendance seemed confused by the apparent hypocrisy in silencing the family of a victim of police violence, during an event meant to bring awareness to pervasive police violence. 

“It’s about everybody,” called out one man. 

“She’s doing it the wrong way, but her point is valid,” said another attendee. “Put her up there on stage.” 

Police Chief Bill Scott speaks to Cleo Moore, whose son was shot by a San Francisco police officer in 2017, and later died of his injuries. Yoel Haile of the ACLU looks on. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan.

Eventually, the protesters quieted down, and the scheduled programming continued. Community leaders spoke, as did Supervisor Shamann Walton and Police Chief Bill Scott, who shared their experiences as Black men and their dedication to reforming policing. 

Afterward, Green told Mission Local that she did not mean to lose her cool, but had just grown “tired of the lies” from politicians who fail to “hold our own police accountable nor the DA office for the murders of our Black men.” 

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. I’d like to give Phelicia Jones a piece of my mind on this. Who the hell is she to decide the only black voices that are valid are those who support the political people she does? WTF? I hope Phelicia Jones’ phone blows up and she steps down and lets someone who gives a shit about all to take her place.

  2. S.F. political hypocrisy on display at City Hall. Applause to April Green for her courage. I was on a jury last year in a case of S.F. P.D. police brutality in which the victim would have been convicted if it were not for a street camera they didn’t know was there that refuted the lies of the police. In that case 5 or 6 S.F.P.D.were pummeling a lone young man and exulting in it.

  3. “My event,” “my platform” — Phelicia Jones’ focus is all too clear. Let’s be sure to remember this whole thing — including Jones screaming at the press, “Don’t take pictures of her! Don’t take pictures of her!” — when Jones inevitably runs for office. (Or is appointed by Breed to some inappropriate position.)

  4. They way this devolved is unfortunately symbolic of the black community. It needs fixing from the inside.

  5. Good for April Green. Felicia Jones and Mayor Breed got called out on their hypocrisy as they should.

  6. I got bad vibes from Jones when she always centered her name in everything she presented, and her comments here confirm those suspicions. A perfect fit for London Breed. Neoliberal identity politics presents all manner of morbid symptoms.

  7. Campers,

    The Left’s best candidates (Gonzalez and Boudin) won’t run.

    Preston lacks the name recognition.

    Whoever runs for whatever is gonna have to trust the Dominion Proprietary count.

    ‘Open Source’ talk die down yet ?

    Biggest argument I’ve seen against GPT3 is that Google made it Proprietary when developers (Musk a founder) swore it would be Open Source and Non-Profit.

    Now, the local criminal justice system is, interestingly, swayed Right with figurehead black women leading away from Reform.

    Give SF Open Source Vote Counting !!

    Yes, everything I’ve said is related.

    To this old dawg anyway.

    Niners discounting resign of Jimmy G. again.



  8. What a story! The circumstances are profoundly tragic, and with all respect, I am extremely pleased to see the mayor and DA’s hypocrisy confronted head on by this courageous woman.

  9. The family already got $2.5 million for their carjacker son. And the cop was fired. That’s more than enough.

    Please include what O’Neil did in your coverage. I had to find it elsewhere. He was no innocent.

    “The day of the shooting, officers responded to a report of a robbery and carjacking involving a California State Lottery van. Samayoa and another officer began pursuing the van and at some point, O’Neil emerged from the van near Fitzgerald Avenue and Griffith Street and began running.”


    1. Sir or madam — 

      You aren’t allowed to summarily execute unarmed people on the street, regardless of the wishes of faceless troglodytes in comment sections. This matter will be decided in a court of law.



      1. Turns out that the cops indeed are allowed to summarily administer justice unless their conduct was egregious and recorded, then they might face accountability. The institution is rotten to the core, ill conceived at its origins, and cannot be reformed. And not with Urban Alchemy.

      2. Joe: Thank you for your response. But as the responsible editor, you are deflecting responsibility. My comment was about omissions from the story.

        Why do you think it’s not important to list the background of O’Neil in a story of this length? That seems like shoddy journalism.

        By the way, are you the only one allowed to call a reader a “faceless troglodyte?” Do you have a comment policy? Would that violate it?

        1. Sir or madam — 

          Keita O’Neil is listed as a carjacking suspect in this and every story. Readers know what carjacking entails.

          If you are unsatisfied with your commenting experience on this site, I suggest you obtain a new hobby.



        2. what’s shoddy is you thinking some $$ is justice for a loved one being executed … and for what? some property? let’s see you comment so flippantly should that happen to someone dear to you. disgusting

      3. HOPEFULLY, the legal system will decide whether Chris Samayoa and Kenneth Chu are guilty of killing Keita O’Neil and Sean Moore. The DA’s office has been stonewalling the advance of these cases in court for months, not allowing them to proceed to a jury trial. This is the hypocrisy of Breed and Jenkins. My heart goes out to April Green and Cleo Moore and my admiration for their unwavering quest for justice.

    2. Shooting an unarmed fleeing felon violates both the Constitution so says the USSC (See, Tennessee v. Garner (1985) 471 U.S. 1 , also a case originating with Memphis police,) and now California state law (See, AB 392, took effect 1/1/2020.) It also is really bad, poor policing, kind of gangster-ish. You’re essentially saying, “he got his.” Shows a disregard for human life and a willingness to excuse excessive force, which police are trained not to do. George Floyd allegedly passed a counterfeit $20.00 bill, did he deserve to have the breath choked out of him? Would you feel so cavalierly if the person who was killed had been your brother? Think about what you are saying.