Domestic violence charges against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have prompted an advocacy group for domestic violence victims to raise money for a billboard that would highlight the issue.

La Casa de las Madres, a San Francisco-based domestic violence victim shelter, is seeking to raise $4,000 for the billboard, which would be placed near the Hall of Justice in the city’s South of Market neighborhood, according to Katharine Berg, the organization’s associate director.

The billboard would say “Domestic Violence is NEVER a private matter. If you need help, call (877) 503-1850,” a reference to statements Mirkarimi made about his case, which stems from a Dec. 31 argument with his wife, Eliana Lopez, during which he allegedly grabbed and bruised her arm.

On the day of his swearing-in as sheriff Jan. 8, Mirkarimi called the case “a private matter, a family matter.”

However, five days later he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. The case is set to go to trial Feb. 24.

Berg said the billboard would be in opposition to Mirkarimi’s statement that the case is “a private matter” and in support of all domestic violence victims.

“We want to encourage people to pay attention,” she said. “San Francisco needs to make a strong statement to victims and survivors that it’s a safe place.”

The campaign to raise money for the billboard started today, with $300 being raised since this morning. The organization is seeking to raise the necessary $4,000 by 5 p.m. Thursday.

La Casa de las Madres is raising money for the billboard with the assistance of LoudSauce, a San Francisco-based startup that raises money via “crowdfunding” on the Internet and uses it to place advertisements in various media.

More information about the campaign can be found on the organization’s website,

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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