Wiener Has Sheriff
Arrest Me Over Photo
This is excerpted from an article by Clinton Fein published at the New Civil Rights Movement site this morning. Click here and here for background on this matter.
In what appears to be an act of heavy-handed political retribution, longtime activist, muckraker and citizen journalist Michael Petrelis yesterday surrendered to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in response to the District Attorney issuing a warrant for his arrest, after being charged with allegedly violating the privacy of Supervisor Scott Wiener.
The DA alleged Petrelis broke Section 647(j) sub-section (1) of the penal code.
A simmering feud between the Supervisor and Petrelis over a range of issues from a public nudity bill to control over the rainbow flag in Harvey Milk Plaza has raged for over two years.
The charge stems from a photograph Petrelis snapped, and subsequently published on his blog, of the supervisor at a wash basin in a public restroom at City Hall on Friday, October 26.
Petrelis voluntarily turned himself in for booking on Thursday afternoon after posting bond, was cited and released.
“I am dealing with this legal matter head on,” said Petrelis following his ordeal. “I voluntarily surrendered to the San Francisco sheriff. I have a court date set for December 5th at 9 am, and I look forward to it.”
The incident occurred at City Hall, where Petrelis was staging a photo-op for visiting gay Honduran dignitary Erick Martinez, an activist whose life has been threatened by the rightwing junta ruling his country. Through Petrelis’ political organizing, Martinez was introduced to gay Supervisor David Campos and bisexual Supervisor Christina Olague, in front of the Harvey Milk Bust in the Grand Rotunda on the second floor.
Petrelis had been taking photographs of the activities in the Grand Rotunda before he walked into the public men’s room noticed Wiener and proceeded to photograph him. An image of Wiener standing in front of the sink, holding a toothbrush later appeared on Petrelis’ blog.
Two weeks after the photo appeared on his blog, in what looks like an act of political retribution, Wiener appears to have abused his power as a San Francisco Supervisor by involving the sheriff’s department, who in turn assigned two senior detectives to investigate the Petrelis.
“I am surprised the DA charged this case,” said Petrelis’ attorney, Derek St. Pierre . . .
More recently, Wiener has been under considerable fire for the anti-nudity legislation he authored; an aggressive attempt to impose curfews on public plazas in the Castro that critics decry as openly hostile to the district’s homeless population; the erosion of San Francisco’s once-powerful Sunshine laws; and his strenuous opposition to free Muni rides for minors. A growing chorus of irate constituents has begun protesting the Supervisor’s activities and speaking engagements . . .
California Penal Code Section 647
Any person who looks through a hole or opening, into, or otherwise views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera, camcorder, or mobile phone, the interior of a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, or tanning booth, or the interior of any other area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside.