Thursday, June 20, 2013

SF Pride Rejects HRC Mediation in Bradley Manning Mess


In early May, my friend local progressive attorney and former Harvey Milk Democratic Club leader David Waggoner and almost thirty co-signatories submitted a rather confusing six-page complaint to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission requesting an investigation into whether SF Pride had violated municipal human rights statutes when it rescinded a grand marshal slot to Wikileaks hero Bradley Manning.

When I first heard about David's move, I phoned him and said he was a hero for filing the request for an investigation. Speaking as an advocate who files similar complaints, I'm always pleased when activists engage with government bodies for redress of wrongs.

David does not have a blog and as far as I know has not posted the six-page complaint and other pertinent documents anywhere on the web, hindering a fully transparent look at the charges made to HRC and subsequent actions. One of the complaint's signatories, activist and artist Clinton Fein, posted the document here, and I laud him for that.

In late May, David was informed by the HRC that they rejected his request for an investigation but he issued no statement about the development and didn't share the documents he received from the commission. On June 1, after he shared the documents with me, they were published at my blog.

The HRC told David on June 18 that SF Pride formally rejected the agency's offer of mediation between the nonprofit and the complainants, and he shared this info on the Bradley Manning for Grand Marshal, Not Court Martial (GMNCM) group on Google:

I was informed by the HRC this morning that SF Pride has declined to participate in any mediation. Because mediation requires the consent of the parties, the HRC process is effectively over at this point, unless Pride changes its mind [...] It may be a good idea for others to follow up with emails, calls or letters to the Board of Supervisors, Mayor's office, and HRC.

My hope that David would release a statement as far and as wide as what he issued in May with the initial filing was dashed. I was also surprised he asked GMNCM members to contact the Supervisors, because he has not publicly endorsed calls to have the Supervisors hold a City Hall hearing about anything to do with SF Pride. Unfortunately, he also didn't provide talking points if one wanted to contact the elected officials.

Earlier today, David informed the GMNCM folks of his communication to our local gay weekly and he also posted the HRC letter to the Google group, which is how I obtained a copy. David wrote:

I forwarded the HRC letters to the BAR, along with this comment: To recap, Pride's leadership slandered Bradley Manning, disenfranchised the Electoral College, banned the press from its meetings, and alternatively either ignored or screamed at community members. Supervisor David Campos and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano have publicly castigated Pride, while Bevan Dufty, for his part, simply declined the honor of being a grand marshal. Now, in refusing mediation from the Human Rights Commission, Pride has yet again conveyed a clear and consistent message: it is accountable to no one. 

A snap up for sharing the HRC letter with the BAR, but as with other pertinent documents, he's done nothing that I'm aware to share the communication with the at-larger LGBT community. He seems to think it's enough to try and get the BAR write up something and if they don't, well, then no one beyond the GMNCM group will know about it. That is not effective engagement with the grassroots or public, in my view.

BTW, the BAR didn't print anything about SF Pride rejecting mediation or David's comment. So, does he have a plan to educate as many people as possible about the latest developments stemming from his original complaint? Who knows.

Regarding his comment, much of what he states is factual about the Electoral College and a press banning but only at meeting I believe not several and yes, gay electeds have criticized SF Pride, but none of that pertains to HRC rejecting his request for an investigation nor does it require SF Pride to participate in mediation.

I must disagree with his contention that SF Pride is accountable to no one. Even I, a longstanding critic of the organization, recognize they have been accountable to anyone who bothers to show up at the two monthly SF Pride meetings open to all, and since the Manning mess began SF Pride leadership has held two and half meetings at their office and a town hall forum in Castro.

Perhaps it would be more accurate for David to say SF Pride has not yet yielded to pressure from hundreds of queer and progressive allies who want Manning reinstated as a grand marshal at the Pride Parade.

My reason for writing this is because I hope my friend takes all the good advocacy he's done with HRC and their responses and documents, and better uses it all to show the inadequacies of the HRC and then goes one step further and speaks up for a City Hall hearing after June 30 about this mess and the $58,000 SF Pride annually receives from the City.

1 comment:

margarita rosa said...

"I must disagree with his contention that SF Pride is accountable to no one. Even I, a longstanding critic of the organization, recognize they have been accountable to anyone who bothers to show up at the two monthly SF Pride meetings open to all, and since the Manning mess began SF Pride leadership has held two and half meetings at their office and a town hall forum in Castro."


Personally, I saw all of that as empty charades purely for show and public relations purposes to give the appearance they are "accountable" and "listening" after being pushed by David Campos. Perhaps they thought their funding might be cut in the future if they didn't *appear* to be "accountable." But did anything change as a result of this PR/BS? No. They still refuse to honor Manning. So in reality, it was all a waste of time and just for a public relations' stunt as far as I'm concerned (which I thought it was at the time). Their decision had been made against Manning BEFORE they had two and half meetings at their office and a town hall forum in Castro. And they were not about to change their decision. Period.