Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sisters Co-Opted By SFPD: Why Gays Distrust Cops

(The line-up, from the left: Bob Moser, David "Elected-Me-To-The-Assembly" Campos, Greg Suhr, Sister Pat N Leather and Greg Carey. Credit: Mission Local, Tay Wiles.)

You should pardon the expression, but it's gonna take a lot more than putting lipstick on a pig to make the San Francisco Police Department attractive to gay crime victims and bring cooperation between cops and victims.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on April 15 staged a Kumbaya presser at the Mission police station, and painted a thick coat of white-face and glitter over serious unaddressed problems with the SFPD. At issue is the resistance lots of gay crime victims have toward filing a police report after being robbed or assaulted and dealing with "cop attitude".

From KCBS and Bay City News:

“We’re a police department for everybody,” [Chief of Police Greg] Suhr said [... and] assured the LGBT community that “LGBT Safe Zone” signs posted on station windows ensure a respectful, courteous and compassionate encounter with police [...] He spoke about a history of distrust of police that needs to be replaced with a mentality of a progressive, accepting police force [...]

The program, organized through the chief’s LGBT Community Advisory Forum that works with Castro-based organizations Castro Community on Patrol and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, aims to dissuade the gay community that they will be re-victimized when reporting a crime.

And this is from the Mission Local story:

“This is a historical moment,” said Sister Pat N Leather, who appeared in her mock nun’s habit beside San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr at a kickoff event at Mission Station this week [...]

Harassment and similar crimes targeted to the LGBT community are widely underreported, said Leather. The safe zone initiative is meant to boost the reporting rate and make crime statistics more accurate.

Slapping a rainbow on the SFPD badge logo and making it into a poster suitable for hanging at the city's police stations and expecting the distrust to blow away like some fairy dust is an insult to intelligent queers.

Let's go over a few high-profile examples of why gays are resistant to going to the cops when we believe crimes have occurred against us, starting with a prime example of the fruitlessness of expecting a fair deal from the law enforcement complex, even if you do file a police report:

From, underlining added:

Left-leaning protesters arrived en masse at Cliff's Variety in the Castro on Christmas Eve to protest the selling of Sodastream [...] (predominately older women) went into Cliff's Variety and started a peaceful protest [...] protesters didn't leave, things then turned loud and physical. "They grabbed, shoved, pushed and dragged people out of the store. An employee twice grabbed my cell phone from my hand, cutting my hand in the process," alleges MayaMediated who shot the video above.

And although the protesters refused medical attention when police arrived, several of them filed assault charges against Cliff employees got it wrong about the activists filing charges. They filed complaints with the cops, while it was the District Attorney George Gascon has declined to file charges against the employees. Forget about having acres of video and still images as evidence, along with bodily proof of assault.Cliff's is owned by Terry Bennett, president of the Merchants of Upper Market Castro group who also friends with many on the force. You didn't expect the law enforcement complex to take the side of mere activists over a business with City Hall ties, did you?

The Cliff's protest came after a gaggle of senior gay male nudists gathered in front of the Castro Theatre one sunny September 22, 2012, afternoon and were assaulted like the Cliff's activists, on camera. From a report by the nudists:

The Castro's livid general manager, Keith Arnold, interrupted interviews by repeatedly striking a news cameraman with a clip board (at the 2:25 mark) and forcing the law-biding nudists to move one store front down Castro street. The Reel Gay news cameraman Mike Skiff filed a criminal complaint with the SFPD against the theater manager.

Nope, despite the video evidence of a assault in broad daylight on Castro Street and the filing of a police report, the law enforcement complex never brought a charge against the theater's manager.

Two times activists are assaulted on-camera, two times the cops and the DA failed to file charges against the businesspeople.

Police arrested approximately 20 protesters who broke into and occupied a vacant two-story building at 535-537 Castro St. Wednesday night. The protesters, part of a group of more than 50 people who had gathered at Dolores Park in honor of  World Homeless Day, marched to the building in an effort to draw attention to the needs of homeless people.

More than 40 officers, including some in riot gear, followed the protesters, who held signs and chanted “House keys, not handcuffs.”

It took that many officers, including a squadron of cops on dirt bikes to deal with less than two-dozen stoner homeless advocates looking for media attention? When the owner of the Castro Street property is millionaire gay entrepreneur and longtime MUMC member Les Natali, you have you own private security force courtesy of the SFPD.

(Cpt. Bob Moser, Castro Benefit District director Andrea Aiello, Sgt. Chuck Limbert.)

Back on November 1, 2012, at the Merchants of Upper Market Castro group's meeting, almost a dozen uniformed beat cops were either inside the meeting or out on the sidewalk. Also present was Mission station police captain Bob Moser and gay cop liaison Chuck Limbert, pictured, who repeatedly told everyone he was allegedly off-duty and helping out MUMC as a private volunteer.

At mediation with the Office of Citizens Complaints, Limbert admitted in front of three activists and two mediators that he lied on November 1 and was actually on-duty. Yep, he was getting paid by the taxpayers to serve as private security and hostess with the mostess at that MUMC meeting, services he provides at every MUMC meeting he attends.What else has lied about over the years?

(Top photo: George Davis, handcuffed and barefooted, a real menace to society, on his way to the police van. Bottom photo: Eight uniformed SFPD officers putting the frail nudist into the van. Credit: Nude-In Blog, Mitch Hightower.)

And let's not overlook our nudists pals and the excessive cop presence, not to mention waste of precious city dollars and crime fighting resources, when two impish senior nudists danced at Harvey Milk Plaza this past February. From nudist leader Mitch Hightower:

Nudist Activists Gypsy Taub and George Davis staged a “Nude Dance Performance” in Harvey Milk Plaza on Wednesday, February 27 [...] The police were prepared in advance for the “lewd performance” [...] The SFPD dispatched a total of twelve uniformed officers, including familiar faces that work the Castro neighborhood daily. There was also a paddy wagon parked on Seventeenth Street just past the F-Car trolley stop along with two other marked police vehicles, and two bicycle cops.

Video assaults twice caught on camera, complaints made, extensive coverage of the peaceful stoner homeless protest and the many nudist dances and protest at City Hall and in the Castro. All of that evidence of unfavorable or hostile treatment by the SFPD and law enforcement is still out there, giving queer folks reasons to be leery of going to the cops.

Oh, there's also the matter of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi putting two investigators on the case of me snapping a photo of an elected official at a public restroom sink, the DA bringing a privacy invasion charge against me that led to my arrest, booking and having a mugshot taken, securing the service of a defense attorney and bailbondswoman, numerous court appearances and an ongoing case where the next appearance is on April 29. This matter has been going on for six months.

Maybe the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the SFPD foolishly think all the social media coverage and chatter amongst friends and colleagues numbering in the hundreds, vanishes with a wave of a wand. They are quite wrong and ought to rethink this plan.

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