Monday, February 07, 2011

BAR-Backed SF David Kato
(Non) Rally Attracts 5 People

(Raymond Hong, with camera, Milton Baird talking to the crew inside the KTVU news van.)

(City Hall at 5:30 pm on Sunday.)

The editor of the Bay Area Reporter, Cynthia Laird, who lives, votes and pays taxes in the East Bay, said in her editorial on Thursday that anonymous grassroots organizers were holding a rally for murdered gay Ugandan David Kato on Sunday at 5:30 pm at City Hall. A lot of folks, myself included, wonder if she's really in touch with the San Francisco gay community or if the BAR has much influence.

I rode my bike down to City Hall at the appointed hour, because I wanted to snap some pix for my blog and see who the organizers were. I found one BAR reader, Milton Baird, local gay video documentarian Raymond Hong and a reporter and cameraman from Channel 2, all waiting for the BAR-backed rally to start. The rally never happened.

Raymond sent around this note:

One wonders the source of misinformation the BAR listed at the end of the editorial (02/03/2011) regarding David Kato murder in Uganda at

John Sasaki with the KTVU news truck, three other people, and I were there at SF City Hall at 5:30pm yesterday, but there was no memorial event to be found.

This is undermining the BAR's reputation for reporting accurate information.

As she rides the BART train back to her East Bay home tonight, will Cynthia feel any need to explain her big mistake to readers, activists and the media? Will she issue just a terse "mistakes were made" statement in this week's BAR? Does she give a damn that her reputation has been seriously marred?

If memory serves, she has been at the BAR since 1995 and served as the news editor since 2000, and I wonder if like Hosni Mubarak she has been in power too long. Even if the publisher Tom Horn were to install an editor who resides in San Francisco, one who has strong links to more parts of the community other than just the businesses and nonprofits who advertise in the paper, we could expect the same conservative approach to gay and AIDS news.

But maybe a new San Francisco-living editor wouldn't make promote a non-existent rally at City Hall, and perhaps that editor would append a note to his or her mistaken editorial on the paper's web site.

What excuses will Cynthia offer up for her initial error and letting days go by without issuing an online correction?

The bottom line is this. Thursday's rally at Harvey Milk Plaza, promoted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Gays Without Borders/SF, Trans Thrive, and many individual members of the San Francisco community attracted 100 people. Sunday's vigil, pushed only by the BAR editor was a bust.

Here's a photo by Clinton Fein of our Thursday rally with 100 people in attendance, and which received no pre-event publicity from the BAR:


Bill Wilson said...

Like you, Michael, I wondered who would show up to a rally in the middle of the Super Bowl. Thanks for going and checking it out. Once again you go where I fear to tread. The Thursday rally was truly inspiration. You did a great job in providing the impetus for a lot of good people to lend their voices.

Michael said...

hi bill,

thanks for the kind words, and for showing up on thursday. i am so proud that our SF activist community is always ready to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.