Sunday, August 14, 2011

Castro Anti-Hate Rally =
Herrera for Mayor Event?

For unknown reasons, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had only 1-2 days to get the word out about their anti-hate rally regarding recent attacks on gays in the Castro. Why they didn't take a bit more time to organize a proper and well-planned event, with more community leaders and groups involved, is one thing I can't understand.

Here is their announcement, notice that they ask folks to bring horns and nothing about pols:

This Saturday starting at 3pm at Jane Warner Plaza on the corner of Market and Castro we take back the streets. Join us for a Stop the Violence march to the four locations where the hate crimes took place since July 31st. Then help us hand out Safety Packets and whistles to help keep our GLBT family safe. Make signs, bring horns - we need to make everyone aware that we will not tolerate violence against GLBT in San Francisco and abroad.

I got there late, just as city attorney and mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera was finishing up a speech and was angry the event was being used by a politician seeking higher office. Why was he the only mayoral wannabee allowed to speak, and not the dozen or so others running for the office?

As Supervisor Wiener took the bottom-less plastic beer cup serving as the megaphone, I yelled at him to bring democracy to the Castro and the control of the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza. I noticed two Herrera campaign workers in the crowd with posters for their guy. A Sister and a guy from the Castro on Patrol group tried to shut me up, with no luck, and Wiener became too flustered from my yelling to continue talking.

Before the crowd took off for their stroll, I finally used my bull horn to inform the crowd about the shameful hijacking of public property, the rainbow flag and pole at Milk Plaza, by the private Merchants of Upper Market/Castro group and how Wiener was of no help resolving the control issues over the flag.

My original intent had been to participate in an anti-violence event and to share my bull horn with the organizers and community speakers. Instead, I was confronted with a pathetic Sisters event more interested in being full of Kumbaya feelings and promoting two lame politicians, rather than addressing serious problems in the Castro.

Why was it asking too much for the Sisters to have a balanced program, that included their rituals and angry activist speakers, survivors of bashings, along with a representative from Community United Against Violence (CUAV) and maybe, though I'm not sure we really need them at such events, a few very short words from Democratic politicians worried about their careers?

With the crowd gone, I was able to talk to longtime social justice advocate Tommi Avicolli Mecca. He told me he was not allowed to speak because he supposedly had too much negativity, claimed a Sister, yet two politicians with no grassroots history spoke. Are the Sisters now part of the Herrera campaign and in the back pocket of Wiener? They really owe the community answers about yesterday's many questions.

This is Tommi's report:

For anyone who was there, the Sisters march against anti-gay violence was a disaster. Not a lot of people showed (funny, huh, considering we all had 24-48 hours notice and even CUAV didn't know about it when I spoke to them yesterday). Frankly, it seemed more like a rally for Herrera for mayor than anything else, with only two speakers, Dennis Herrera and Scott Weiner, who is supporting Herrera.

I had asked to speak this morning, but was told via facebook by a sister friend of mine, "She (Sister Pat 'n' Leather) says that her focus is very specific about cleansing negative energy right now. If possible, she'll see what she can do but most likely there won't be time."

Won't be time? The only two speakers were Herrera and Weiner! No one from CUAV, which has been fighting anti-queer and anti-trans violence for over 20 years!

I admit I didn't pester Sister Pat 'n' Leather at the plaza because I was so turned off by the whole thing. Maybe if I had pushed more, they would have let me speak, but they knew I was there. I was just so frustrated by the "cleansing negative energy" theme. We need action, not cleansing negative energy! Or at least both.

At a time when the Castro Benefits District is spending countless hours debating removing benches from Harvey Milk Plaza because condo owners complain about the homeless sleeping there, we need accountability from our politicians and our organizations about what they're doing about increased anti-gay violence in the Castro. And that's what I told the Sisters I wanted to address -- the issue of so much money being wasted on harassing the homeless when gay men are being beaten less than a block from Milk Plaza.

It's a matter of priorities. Condo owners get immediate police response because they have money and the ear of Scott Wiener. What do the rest of us get? Unsafe streets to cruise and walk down when we go to bars or to socialize in "our" hood.

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