Community outrage for child killed at SF intersection; rebel group installs barriers

There was anger, disappointment, but also activism in San Francisco Tuesday evening. 

Demonstrators gathered to honor the life of a 4-year-old girl who was killed one week ago while crossing the street with her parents. The crash happened at 4th and King Streets near the Caltrain Station. Many people are upset and are calling on city leaders to make the streets safer. 

One group of protesters, Safe Street Rebel, took actions into their own hands and installed a new barrier at the site of the crash. They said they didn't want to wait for city officials to make the safety improvements. The group, who was also behind placing cones atop autonomous vehicles to show how easily they can be disabled, returned to the intersection at around 9 p.m., after the rally was held, to install the barriers. The mayor and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said it would take three weeks to make the safety improvements. 

"We really decided tonight was the night after we heard city leaders saying that it was going to take three weeks," said Cedar Makhijani, a member of the group Safe Street Rebel.

"I think it's ridiculous for them to give us such a long timeline," said Makhijani, "We want the city to do better here. We want this to be safer, but we also want the city to do better in general at responding quickly. Not just after somebody is killed."

Within an hour, the group had installed the barriers which remained in place, just as tens of thousands of people crossed the intersection coming back from a Blackpink concert at Oracle Park Tuesday night.

"A big part of the Safe Street Rebel philosophy is showing and not telling. And so we're showing what a safer intersection will look like," said Makhijani.

People placed stuffed animals and signs with messages mourning the little girl who was killed on August 15 while crossing the street with her parents. She was being pushed in a stroller. 

"My heart is broken and I'm angry. I'm really, really angry," said Jody Mediros, executive director of Walk San Francisco

Many people said they were shocked by the crash. The girl's parents were in the intersection with their daughter when a woman in a car making a right turn from the second turn lane hit and killed the girl. Her father was injured. 

"I feel bad for all the accidents, but it felt even more heartbreaking to potentially have it happen to your own child. I feel for the family," said Susan Zhang of San Francisco. 

"That you as a parent can be pushing your child in a crosswalk in a stroller and they can die, you're doing everything you can to keep your child safe, hits home in a certain way for parents and parents across the city are reeling from this and heartbroken for this family," said Lian Chang from Walk San Francisco. 

People at the demonstration called for more safety measures. Pedestrians pushing strollers and holding up signs filled the crosswalks at 4th and King. 

"We should be able to cross safely, not only at 4th and King, but every intersection in San Francisco," said Paul Rivera of San Francisco. "Last year I almost got hit by a car on Father's Day crossing the street and when I saw this, I was just devastated."

The SFMTA said their rapid response engineer team recommended cutting the two turn lines down to one and making the green light a yellow arrow to caution drivers. The SFMTA is also promising to examine other similar sites citywide. 

"We think there are as many as 30 locations with multiple lanes turning across a crosswalk where the pedestrians are not protected by a traffic light, Said Tom Maguire, SFMTA's streets director. 

"I wouldn't say a yellow area is clear enough for drivers, they might speed up to try and catch the light," said Emily Noh of San Francisco. 

Police sources said the driver who hit the child was charged with failure to yield to pedestrians and vehicular manslaughter. 

The family members, all of whom have not been identified, were visiting from South Korea and the parents have since returned home. 

Community members today said they want changes so this doesn't happen again.