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San Francisco Pride & Police Officers Pride Alliance broker compromise

The compromise was announced at Mayor London Breed’s ceremonial raising of the Pride flag on the balcony outside her office

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Courtesy of the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance

SAN FRANCISCO – The governing board of San Francisco Pride and the leadership of the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance worked out a compromise that allows for the participation of some officers in the parade to march in uniform.

It was also announced that San Francisco Mayor London Breed would participate in the parade. The Mayor had withdrawn her support after the Pride committee ruled that the city’s LGBTQ+ law enforcement contingents are banned from participating in the Pride parade wearing their uniforms. The Mayor noted in a statement at the time:

“I love the Pride Parade, and what it means for our LGBTQ community and for our city. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. However, if the Pride Board does not reverse its decision, I will join our city public safety departments that are not participating in the Pride Parade,” the Mayor said in a statement.

I’ve made this very hard decision in order to support those members of the LGBTQ community who serve in uniform, in our Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, who have been told they cannot march in uniform, and in support of the members of the Fire Department who are refusing to march out of solidarity with their public safety partners,” Breed added.

 ABC7 Bay Area reporter Lyanne Melendez, who had covered the ongoing controversy for the station tweeted out the news of the compromise as it broke Thursday.

San Francisco Pride’s Carolyn Wysinger, President Of the Board of Directors, SF Pride and Suzanne Ford, Interim Executive Director, SF Pride and the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance spokesperson Officer Kathryn Winters, in a dual statement issued Thursday noted:

“Pride grew out of conflicts between LGBTQ communities and police at Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall Inn. Ever since then, we have attempted to bridge that divide. That is why we are grateful to have reached a compromise solution today. It shows everyone is working in the spirit of Pride to come together!  We have agreed that all first responders will march together in one contingent. Most law enforcement officers marching will be in casual dress. Police and fire department command staff will march in their class AA uniforms as regulated. There will be a small number of LGBTQ officers in uniform providing security for the contingent.”

“In addition to the agreement reached surrounding law enforcement officers marching in Pride, San Francisco Pride and the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance have also agreed to continue work that builds on the foundations laid by our conversations over the last two years. The San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance will work with Chief William Scott’s office to reinvigorate the Chief’s LGBTQ Police Advisory Forum, working with San Francisco Pride to ensure that community members selected for the forum represent the diversity of San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community. San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance and San Francisco Pride, over the next year, will host a series of community discussions bringing together the LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+ officers. These discussions will take place in San Francisco LGBTQ+ communities in order to ensure that the forums are accessible to all.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed raises the Pride flag during a June 2 ceremony at City Hall.
Bay Area Reporter Photo by Rick Gerharter

Journalists Eric Burkett and Cynthia Laird from The Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ newspaper and media outlet reported:

The compromise was announced at Mayor London Breed’s ceremonial raising of the Pride flag on the balcony outside her office, overlooking the front entrance of City Hall.

“I have a very, very big happy announcement today,” Breed said in a presentation following the flag raising. “I almost want to cry, I’m so happy. But I, along with our LGBTQ public safety officials will be marching in Pride this year.”

At that point, the assembly comprising LGBTQ community leaders, members of SF Pride, law enforcement, and city officials burst into applause. The mayor continued, acknowledging that her decision not to march had probably hurt some people.

“I want to first apologize to the many members of the LGBTQ community who were hurt by the decision that I made to stand by our various public safety officials of the LGBTQ community. And I apologize for not also recognizing the hurt and pain that I know some feel as a result of their own interactions and engagements with law enforcement.”

She called the compromise one all parties in the dispute could be proud of, adding “the understanding and respect from both sides is a symbol of love, bringing us together.”

The compromise resulted from an almost impromptu discussion facilitated by a local restaurateur, Manny Yekutiel, a gay man who owns Manny’s, a hybrid cafe and community space in the Mission district. Yekutiel, 31, also serves on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board.

Distressed by how the dispute between law enforcement and SF Pride seemed to be escalating, Yekutiel decided to offer his cafe as a place to meet. After calling representatives from both sides of the dispute last weekend, they agreed that Sunday to meet the evening of June 1 to further discuss the matter.

“I decided to reach out to both Suzanne Ford and Officer Winters and see if they can come here and see if we could work something out together in person,” he said, referring to the interim executive director of SF Pride and a leader in the police pride alliance.

Yekutiel not only hosted the event, he said, but served as moderator.

“I asked the question at the end of this really beautiful conversation between the two of them where folks spent an hour sharing their experiences and their stories and their perspective on the issue,” he said. “I asked them what they needed to see in order to make a compromise, what would a compromise look like to be able to get everyone to march together.”

He added that “a compromise was proposed and in the room, it was not accepted, but it seemed that we were able to actually find a path forward that allowed officers to feel comfortable marching and, prior, to allow them there. And so I stopped in the middle of the conversation. I said, did this just happen? Is this OK with you? Is this OK with you?”

The conversation between the two sides continued the following day and wrapped up just hours before the flag-raising ceremony.

End of stalemate

The deal brings to an end a stalemate that started May 23 when members of the San Francisco Police Officers Pride Alliance stated they would not participate in the parade because the board that oversees the Pride parade had instituted a policy whereby they could not march in uniform.

That policy, first adopted in September 2020, was because SF Pride board President Carolyn Wysinger and former SF Pride Executive Director Fred Lopez “concluded that in 2021 we cannot welcome the participation of the San Francisco Police Department’s Pride Alliance — which is to say, uniformed SFPD officers marching as a Parade contingent.”

The SF Pride leaders said the organization was “disappointed and frustrated” following a 2019 incident when police used force against anti-police and anti-corporate protesters who blocked the parade route for almost an hour.

Due to the COVID pandemic, this year is the first time the policy is being tested because there was no in-person Pride parade in 2021.

In last month’s announcement, the police officers alliance was joined in solidarity by LGBTQ members of the San Francisco Fire Department and San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. Breed and gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey then said they would skip the parade if SF Pride did not reverse its decision.

In a text to the B.A.R. Thursday, Dorsey wrote “Yes!” when asked if he would now march in the parade.

The flag-raising ceremony was attended by SF Pride leaders, including Wysinger and Ford, lesbian Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson, and others.

“Here in San Francisco, we embrace our diverse communities to ensure that everyone can live freely as who they are,” Breed stated. “While other states attack the rights of LGBTQ individuals, here in San Francisco, we fly the Pride flag proudly to celebrate the history and honor the accomplishments of this community. Today reflects and the entire month of June reflects the strength of the LGBTQ community and our city’s commitment to LGBTQ rights and equality.”

While the city’s LGBTQ cultural districts had previously said that would not send representatives to the flag-raising, Aria Sa’id, president and chief strategist of the Transgender District, was in attendance.

“When they reached out to me and said they had reached an agreement that their board was satisfied with, it was enough for us at the Transgender District in particular,” said Sa’id. “Because it’s not our event but we wanted to support another trans-led organization that puts on one of the largest festivals in San Francisco every single year.” (SF Pride leader Ford is a transgender woman.)

Noting the agreement had come together rather quickly, Sa’id said, “We just got alerted an hour before” the flag-raising ceremony, and they just walked over from their offices in the Tenderloin.

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) also attended the event at City Hall.

“The LGBTQ flag raising at City Hall is always a banner moment kicking off Pride Month in San Francisco,” Wiener stated. “Particularly now — with so many vicious political attacks against LGBTQ youth around the country — San Francisco must be a beacon of hope for our community. The rainbow flag represents the hope, safety, and joy that San Francisco has come to mean for the LGBTQ community.”

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San Francisco

San Francisco attorney Richard Zitrin on Harvey Milk & lost AIDS history

The Castro was beginning to be the center of gay life when Harvey opened his camera shop- We brought our slides to him that’s- how we met him 

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Courtesy of Richard Zitrin

By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – For almost half a century, Richard Zitrin has been steeped in the tumultuous fight against injustice as a trial lawyer, professor and legal ethics expert.

He’s a walking vault of California progressive history, some of which he talks about in his new memoir Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power. But there are many gems in that vault that are not in the book — stories about gay icon Harvey Milk and Larry Long and Gerald Martin III, for instance, two gay men with AIDS apparently lost to history. 

Zitrin is a storyteller. His vivid chapter about representing Johnny Spain, the only one of the infamous 1970s San Quentin Six convicted of murder – convictions that were eventually overturned – should be made into a movie.

The chapter on the luridly false tabloid McMartin preschool cases where he represented a doctor accused of child molestation by a 15-year-old girl includes the parallel story of how Zitrin learned to talk to juries by revealing an emotional truth about himself. The story about his poor Latina client who lost steering control over her Dodge van on Mission Street in San Francisco and crashed into a building in the late 1980s included an epiphany.

Through discovery during litigation, Zitrin found that Chrysler Corporation knew about the defect in their 2 million Dodge vans and had hidden that knowledge through secret agreements. 

“What you don’t know will hurt you,” Zitrin told Public Justice. “It just seems like it’s extraordinarily unethical for anybody to keep that information secret from the public.” He’s now dedicated to exposing overly broad court protective orders and secrecy agreements that hide information important to the public’s health and safety. 

Zitrin’s latest fight against court secrecy has been his tireless advocacy for the Public Right to Know Act (SB 1149), a bill he wrote with California State Senator Connie M. Leyva, co-sponsored by Public Justice and Consumer Reports. SB 1149 passed in the Senate and recently passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It is expected to hit the Assembly floor in August.  

With five decades of frontline experience combating injustice, civil rights icons are longtime friends. After George Floyd’s murder, Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society asked him to write an essay for her newsletter that turned into “Why being anti-racist is not enough” that the ABA Journal published as an open letter to Zitrin’s white progressive friends. 

But a straight ally casually referencing a gay icon is still strange. “I knew Harvey Milk when he first came to San Francisco — in the same neighborhood at the same time that I went to San Francisco,” Zitrin said unexpectedly while talking about how much he hates injustice. 

Wait, what? Harvey Milk in the Castro in 1973?

“Well, Harvey was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, as I am — though he was a bit older.  My wife and I were living between Noe Valley and the Castro, which was then called Eureka Valley. The Castro was just beginning to become the center of gay life when Harvey moved in and opened his camera shop. He was local so we just brought our slides to him. That’s how we met him. 

“It was before he ran for supervisor,” Zitrin recalled. “I remember going to a very, very early meeting about people going door to door and handing out pamphlets and doing precinct walks for Harvey Milk. We were at his shop with a fairly small bunch of people — maybe 15 or 20 — gay people, straight people, couples like my former wife and myself. He was just a super nice guy. I didn’t know him well. But I sure like going to his shop and talking to him. I liked his politics a lot.

“Later on, between 1980 and 1986, which was during the beginning of the AIDS crisis, our office was on 18th Street, one block from the Castro Theater,” Zitrin said. “We were right in the center of the gay community, right next to Hot and Hunky Hamburgers, if you can believe that!”

Would the response to AIDS have been different if Milk had not been assassinated in 1978?

“I think that’s very possible,” Zitrin said. “The AIDS crisis came on suddenly for all of us and it was going to have a huge consequence, regardless. San Francisco was in the forefront medically but while Cleve Jones, for example, was around and was Harvey’s disciple and was a great leader, he wasn’t Harvey. Harvey was so powerful and charismatic that had he been around, I’m sure it would have helped focus attention on the issue. He would have helped bring it to quicker national attention.”

Zitrin also shared about two gay men who almost lost their jobs when they became ill with AIDS.  

“In about 1982, I joined the San Francisco Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service Committee and soon became Vice Chair. The service’s director, Larry Long, became ill with AIDS. He was hospitalized and I remember in those early days, there was nothing we could do other than wish him well or go visit,” said Zitrin.   

“Shortly thereafter, Long’s second in command, office manager Gerald Martin III, a gay African-American man, also became sick with AIDS and was also unable to work. And at that time, the hierarchy of the Bar — even in liberal San Francisco — was being run by a bunch of old white men….and their view was that since Larry wasn’t at the Bar anymore, he should be fired. The folks on the Lawyer Referral committee didn’t like that much. And we were concerned about Gerald, too. I kind of led a palace rebellion.”

The old executive director of the Bar Association was on his way out and was looking for a successor who would “cut Larry and Gerald loose,” recalled Zitrin, who was enraged by the immoral and unethical effort. “I was able to organize the committee, with help from the woman who took over as the supervisor — Carol Woods — and the committee just stood up and said, ‘we’re not going to allow this. If you’re going to do it, we’re going to be yelling and screaming about it.’ Almost every member of the 15-person committee was on our side. We got them to back down until the executive director retired. The Bar’s new director was Drucilla Ramey, whose expertise was in equal pay for women and who understood full well what the right thing to do was. Dru led the Bar for 18 years and she and I became good friends”. 

Long died in 1985, followed by Martin in 1986. “They were missed,” said Zitrin. The California State Bar Association subsequently gave out annual Larry Long Awards to notable leaders in the Lawyer Referral field. “I’m actually one of the early recipients of that Award, which I’m very proud of.”

While stories about gay men being fired for or while ill with AIDS have appeared in popular and LGBTQ culture — such as the movie “Philadelphia” — there does not appear to be a digital record of the battle that befell Larry Long and Gerald Martin III, until now. How many more stories of those lost to AIDS have yet to be told?

*********************

Karen Ocamb is the Director of Media Relations for Public Justice.

See her conversation with Richard Zitrin on YouTube where they discuss the book, racism, implicit bias, legal ethics and court secrecy. Professor Zitrin also gives good advice to young law students.

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Shooting on Muni Train in San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ Castro neighborhood

One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital The suspect fled from the train remains at large

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San Francisco police Officer Kathryn Winters speaks with media about shooting on the Muni Train (Screenshot/YouTube ABC7 News)

SAN FRANCISCO – A shooting on a Muni Train between the Forest Hill and Castro stations killed one person and seriously injured another Wednesday morning at around 10:00AM NBC Bay Area reported.

The gun violence, which occurred as Pride Week festivities are cranking up in the city rattled the LGBTQ+ community, however s spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department indicated that investigators do not believe that that the gunman was targeting the community.

“I also want to assure the community that this incident does not appear to have any connection to Pride events or does not appear to target the LGBTQ community,” San Francisco police Officer Kathryn Winters said. “We really want to make sure that our community members and visitors who are in town for Pride week understand that.”

According to Winters one victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect fled from the train at the Castro station and remains at large. Winters told NBC Bay Area the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident.

Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the shooting:

“The shooting that occurred on the Muni subway near Castro Station — a subway ride I’ve taken thousands of times over the past 25 years — is a horrific tragedy. It’s another reminder that as long as our country is awash in guns, shootings can happen anywhere, anytime. My heart goes out to the victims, and I know SFPD is working hard to apprehend the shooter. We must recommit as a nation to end the easy availability of guns. California has the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and we’re continuing to strengthen them. But we need strong action from Congress to truly improve the safety of our community.”

It wasn’t immediately known if the suspect and victims knew each other. SFPD are investigating any potential connections and are also looking into what led up to the shooting.

Anyone who witnessed the shooting is asked to contact San Francisco police.

Muni subway service between the West Portal and Castro stations has been stopped, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said.

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Out State Sen. Scott Wiener receives death threat, police investigate

This is another example of growing attacks on LGBTQ people around the country & are a direct result of hateful, anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric

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State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – Police executed a search of California State Senator Scott Wiener’s San Francisco home Sunday and his legislative offices in Sacramento with bomb dogs after a senior staffer received a credible death threat targeting the openly gay Democratic lawmaker.

The threat against Wiener came during LGBTQ+ Pride month and on a weekend of threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community. The threat was sent in an email to one of the senator’s principal aides who in turn notified Wiener at which point the authorities were engaged.

WARNING: The following image’s language is graphic:

Screenshot of threat (redacted)

Both the San Francisco Police Department and California Highway Patrol are investigating the threat, the SFPD’s public information officer Officer Kathryn Winters told the Blade.

“This is an ongoing investigation which is being handled by the California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco Police Department Special Investigations Division, and we work with agencies such as the CHP in response to incidents such as this,” Winters said.

 “I’ve been getting death threats for years as a result of our work to advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. I’m not going to stop doing that work no matter what threats people make. This is just another example of the growing attacks we’re seeing on LGBTQ people around the country — including this past weekend in Idaho and San Lorenzo. These attacks are a direct result of the hateful, anti-LGBTQ political rhetoric coming from right-wing politicians and activists. Words have consequences,”  Wiener said in a statement.

The Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group whose membership espouse hate-filled anti-gay/anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric disrupted a Drag Queen Story Hour event at the San Lorenzo Library located on Paseo Grande in Alameda County, California Saturday afternoon.

Lt. Ray Kelly, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer said a that group of men described as members of the Proud Boys organization, entered the during library its “Drag Queen Story Time” event and made “homophobic and transphobic remarks against a member of the LGTBQ+ community who was hosting the event.”

Witnesses reported that the men began to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs at the event organizer, drag queen Panda Dulce. The men were described as extremely aggressive with a threatening violent demeanor causing people to fear for their safety. Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the library and were able to de-escalate the situation.

Kelly indicated that there was an active hate crime investigation as a result of the actions of the five Proud Boys. According to Kelly, in addition to drag queen organiser Panda Dulce there were parents and minor children also present.

Senator Wiener tweeted Sunday:

In the second incident mentioned by Wiener in his Sunday tweet, at the end of last week heavily armed Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear arrested armed anti-LGBTQ+ protestors, and a few self-labeled ‘street preachers’ who were attempting to disrupt the “Pride in the Park” in Coeur d’Alene City Park which returned after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 31 people who had face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, shields and an “operations plan” to riot near an LGBTQ Pride event on Saturday afternoon. Lee White, the police chief of the Coeur d’Alene police department said those arrested were affiliated with Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group whose founder was among those arrested.

Patriot Front was once known as Vanguard America (VA), one of the main organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

Authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck at a hotel Saturday afternoon, said Lee. Local and state law enforcement pulled over the truck about 10 minutes later, White said at a news conference.

Many of those arrested were wearing logos representing Patriot Front, which rebranded after one of its members plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

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