»No killer robots«: Protest in front of City Hall in San Francisco
Normally, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' second vote on an issue is a formality—reaffirming what was decided in the first round.
But in this case, the subject itself was extraordinary: the city's oversight board had a new policy for the work of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and it included permission to use police robots to kill someone in an emergency .
A week ago, the board voted eight to three in favor.
(Read more about this here. ) But on Tuesday, the committee surprisingly took a U-turn.
The formulation that was initially found appropriate by a majority read: »Robots are only used as an option for the use of deadly force when there is an imminent threat to the lives of citizens or police officers and police officers have not been able to control the threat using other violent or de-escalation measures, or if they decide that these measures will not be sufficient to control the threat situation.«
As reported by "Mission Local" and other media, eight board members have now spoken out in favor of first returning this draft to a board committee.
That means: Only when the revised version of the draft is approved (again twice) will the deadly use of robots actually be allowed.
»We all saw the film – no killer robots«
On Monday there was a demonstration against the directive in front of the town hall. Among other things, the posters read: "We all saw the film - no killer robots", a reference to the classic film "Robocop".
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and dozens of other civil rights organizations had written to the board in an open letter: "There is no reason to believe that robots loaded with explosives could represent an exception to the excessive use of force by the police." In fact, it was "a perfect one example of such escalation patterns and of the militarization of the police, which concerns so many people in the city".
The SFPD has 17 police robots in their arsenal, primarily for defusing explosive devices.
Such a device was detonated in Dallas in 2016 to kill cop killer Micah Johnson, who had holed up.
Even then, critics feared a precedent that could ensure normalization.
In San Francisco, too, it was not planned to equip robots with firearms in case of an emergency, but with explosives.