SF Police Set Up LGBT Forum:
Public Comment Prohibited
There's a much larger framework and political agenda in which to place this dangerous precedent of cops silencing the voices of gay grassroots activists by establishing a panel of mainstream gay leaders, and outlawing public comment.
Among the gay institutions based in this city that don't hold any public, open-to-all forums either irregularly or consistently are these organizations: Equality California, Human Rights Campaign (store, gala committee, Federal Club), the Haas Fund and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Add to that list the names of all the local gay electeds who fail to meet minimum standards of democratic engagement and hold forums with their gay constituents: Supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener, Senator Mark Leno, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, and when he was a Supervisor, Bevan Dufty was in this club of dubious distinction.
At the national level, I know of not a single awards-and-gala-throwing Gay Inc organization that bothers with public forums including HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD, Lambda Legal, Equality Matters, and the many Tim Gill-funded groups.
On top of the Haas Fund and Gill Foundation charities that avoid organizing open forums like the plague, we have the Arcus, Astraea, Henry van Ameringen, Palm and Bohnett foundations. In short, gay sunshine and democratic principles are left to die on the vine by many levels of so-called community-based agencies and funders.
Here is the shameful icing on the Gay Inc and Gay Foundation Inc cake, courtesy of a law enforcement agency, hardly an institution invested gay liberation.
The San Francisco Police Department has created an advisory panel called the LGBT Forum, and there are forums also for Hispanics, business leaders, etc. The cops set up the forum for gays through their gay liaison cop, they decide who's on the panel and how the agenda is set. In short, this is a total cop-controlled endeavor.
The lesbian officer running this sham sent the follow email to community groups and others:
“This forum is your opportunity as LGBT community stakeholders to work together with the SFPD to build bridges, improve public safety and create positive change."
Yes, and a chance for the twelve leaders on the panel, and more of the community, to be co-opted. This dangerous development is bad enough just being under the the SFPD thumb, but where it truly sets off civil libertarian alarms is the prohibition on public comment. Verboten. Forbidden. Banned.
I believe the SFPD is flagrantly in violation of municipal and state laws for open meetings. Thus, I have filed a complaint with city's Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and will keep everyone apprised of how they handle my complaint. The LGBT Forum cannot stand unchallenged.
Some background on this LGBT Forum group from the Bay Area Reporter:
1. Officer Jennifer Thompson said in an email "that the forums are open to the public. However, she said, the nature of the forums 'do not provide opportunities for comment by members of the public. Members of the public may observe on a space available basis.'" ( (http://ebar.com/blogs/?p=1644)
2. The BAR noted on February 17 that interim police chief Jeff Godown and other department staff were at the February 8 meeting, and spoke to the panel about important police business. No public comment was reported. (http://ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=5476)
3. From a March 25 BAR post: "The police department’s LGBT forum is meant to provide 'LGBT community stakeholders' a chance to work with police 'to build bridges, improve public safety and create positive change,' according to Officer Jennifer Thompson, police liaison to the LGBT community. (http://ebar.com/blogs/?p=1951)