sfpd_cityhall.jpgWhile he’s taken a perhaps unfair share of heat from police, press and others for his unabashedly progressive stances on issues and a perceived milquetoast character, Supervisor Eric Mar is nothing if not principled, with Mar sticking his neck out on international and local workers’, human and civil rights.

It was that sense of duty and civic activism that on Thursday led Mar to the downtown law offices of labor attorney John Kloosterman, where Mar and about three dozen housekeepers, nannies and labor activists hoped to hand-deliver to Kloosterman — who represents US firms who employ domestic workers, and who is headed to Switzerland next week for the International Labour Organization’s annual conference — a Board of Supervisors resolution urging for an end to exploitation and abuse of domestic workers.

Simple enough. All Mar wanted was five minutes of Kloosterman’s time (and all the activists with Mar wanted to do was chant “Shame on Kloosterman!” when the attorney wouldn’t come out of his office to be shouted at by maids with brown faces). But instead Mar — who is himself an attorney, and an (albeit inactive) member of the California State Bar Association — found the police sicced on him.

SFPD responded to a call at Kloosterman’s 20th-floor office on California Street on Thursday, and informed Mar and his cohorts that they would be arrested if they did not depart, resolution in hand and tails between legs.

Calls to both Mar and Kloosterman were not immediately returned on Friday afternoon, but always-on-the-spot IndyBay.org has a seven-minute video handy. See for yourself the chanting and the appearance of SFPD towards the end.

“This is a disgrace,” said Hillary Ronen, aide to Supervisor David Campos, in a news release. An attorney herself, Ronen was in attendance and was the chief chanter. “Kloosterman is calling the police on elected city officials when all we are
asking is for 5 minutes of his time. This man is supposedly representing US employers of domestic workers at the ILO, and yet he is refusing to even face a room full of domestic workers who have come to his office.”

While we admit a club over the head or perhaps even a pepper-spraying would have been more badass, there’s no denying Mar’s presence at the front lines.

UPDATE 3:09 p.m. The police were sicced on Mar’s crew without warning, after an office secretary had told the contingent of activists to “wait five minutes” to see if Kloosterman would receive them, according to Mar, who just phoned The Appeal. While they waited, before the five minutes were over or before any other of Kloosterman’s staffers said a word, the SFPD arrived and asked them to leave.

“I’ll just say, I expected [Kloosterman] or at the very least a secretary would come out at least to say he couldn’t receive us,” Mar said. “If that had happened, we would have left.”

Among the people kicked out were Juana Flores, who is bound to have a few choice words for Kloosterman when she sees him in Geneva. Flores, a former domestic worker who is now Director of Bay Area immigrant women’s center Mujeres Unidas y Activas and the Caring Hands Worker Association is one half of the US’s delegation to the ILO conference, Kloosterman the other.

Mar, who said that he’d had brushes with police while participating in civil disobedience actions before (though he politely declined to say more) said the cops acted gracefully and professionally in dealing with the situation.

“I’m not outraged I was kicked out,” he added. “I’m outraged a powerful lawyer who works on labor issues didn’t have respect for immigrant women and domestic workers’ rights.”

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  • Greg Dewar

    Tiny correction: Mr. Mar isn’t “sticking his neck out” at all. Passing resolutions with absolutely no force of law make people feel like something is being done, but the fact is that piece of paper and a dollar will get you a coffee at McDonald’s but nothing more. Thus, Mr. Mar isn’t really risking anything at all. Instead he’s just making people feel like he did something when in fact he did not.

    The board this year has focused so much time and energy on these non binding resolutions which have had no effect at all, and in the process they are playing with the real world hopes and ideals of the people who support them, making them think like these Supervisors are heroes, when they are nothing but shameful charlatans, playing off their real concerns and manipulating them to support them for re-election.

    BTW it’s interesting to notice how at most of these loud rallies it’s the same people EVERY SINGLE TIME that show up, since they have the time to do so, while others do not as they have to work during business hours.

  • Greg Dewar

    Tiny correction: Mr. Mar isn’t “sticking his neck out” at all. Passing resolutions with absolutely no force of law make people feel like something is being done, but the fact is that piece of paper and a dollar will get you a coffee at McDonald’s but nothing more. Thus, Mr. Mar isn’t really risking anything at all. Instead he’s just making people feel like he did something when in fact he did not.

    The board this year has focused so much time and energy on these non binding resolutions which have had no effect at all, and in the process they are playing with the real world hopes and ideals of the people who support them, making them think like these Supervisors are heroes, when they are nothing but shameful charlatans, playing off their real concerns and manipulating them to support them for re-election.

    BTW it’s interesting to notice how at most of these loud rallies it’s the same people EVERY SINGLE TIME that show up, since they have the time to do so, while others do not as they have to work during business hours.

  • dantsea

    Yeah, that sort of showing up at important events stuff should be left to paid lobbyists.

  • dantsea

    Yeah, that sort of showing up at important events stuff should be left to paid lobbyists.

  • renegade

    I don’t really see anything wrong with what Mr. Mar did. In fact, his presence probably prevented all those folks from being rounded up and sent to 850 Bryant. If Mr. Kloosterman and Ms. Juana Flores are the US delegates to the ILO conference, it seems they need to work together. Just by reading the SF Appeal’s account, it appears the conference impacts domestic workers and Mr. Kloosterman needs to be responsive. The SF Appeal and Chris Roberts did not err to run this story even in its subjective style, and brings to their readers another insite into another struggle.

    However, if Mr. Mar’s actions are merely pandering and other Board members engage in similar tactics, maybe the Appeal should explain why they covered this story and not others. I’d be interested to read the Appeal’s and Chris Roberts’ rebuttal to these comments, especially to Mr. Dewar’s entry.

  • renegade

    I don’t really see anything wrong with what Mr. Mar did. In fact, his presence probably prevented all those folks from being rounded up and sent to 850 Bryant. If Mr. Kloosterman and Ms. Juana Flores are the US delegates to the ILO conference, it seems they need to work together. Just by reading the SF Appeal’s account, it appears the conference impacts domestic workers and Mr. Kloosterman needs to be responsive. The SF Appeal and Chris Roberts did not err to run this story even in its subjective style, and brings to their readers another insite into another struggle.

    However, if Mr. Mar’s actions are merely pandering and other Board members engage in similar tactics, maybe the Appeal should explain why they covered this story and not others. I’d be interested to read the Appeal’s and Chris Roberts’ rebuttal to these comments, especially to Mr. Dewar’s entry.

  • SanFrancisco Grrl

    ” maids with brown faces…” Really? You really wrote that? Wow.

  • SanFrancisco Grrl

    ” maids with brown faces…” Really? You really wrote that? Wow.