The Adachi Papers: SF Police Raid Attacks Free Press and Reveals Hypocrisy

San Francisco public defender-filmmaker Jeff Adachi passed away at age 59 on February 22, reportedly from cocaine and alcohol plus a heart condition. Local reporter Bryan Carmody thought the circumstances were unusual and began to investigate. Carmody told Matthew Keys of the California Globe that as he gathered information, an unnamed individual provided him with a 16-page police dossier with photographs and investigator’s reports. San Francisco police began pestering Carmody for the source of his report, which he declined to reveal. The reporter was not charged with a crime, but San Francisco police chief William Scott said the reporter “crossed the line,” motivated by profit or animosity toward Adachi.

Two judges issued search warrants, and on May 10 the police broke down Carmody’s door with a sledgehammer and held the reporter in handcuffs for six hours. Police confiscated Carmody’s notebooks, cellphone, computer, hard drives, and cameras, taking away video equipment worth more than $30,000. Carmody still declined to reveal his source.

In classic style, San Francisco mayor London Breed flip-flopped on support for the raid, and local officials were divided. It remains unclear who launched the raid, but there is no doubt that the action violated Carmody’s First Amendment rights. No word yet whether any officers declined to participate in the raid, or expressed any regrets afterward. The officers’ unquestioned obedience recalls another case in 2012.

In November of that year, voters were to decide four ballot measures on taxes and spending. The Senate Governance and Finance Committee held hearings on these measures, and the California Channel gave voters statewide a chance to watch and gain insights. Senate boss Darrell Steinberg told state employees to pull the plug on the broadcast, and they did so, keeping voters statewide in the dark. Afterward, Steinberg proclaimed “I pride myself on being open and transparent.”

In similar style, San Francisco officials all claim to support the First Amendment. With police and public officials alike, California taxpayers should watch what they do, not what they say.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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