San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and District Attorney George Gascon joined forces this morning with other city agencies and community groups to launch a public awareness campaign to end domestic violence.
At the launch held late this morning in the mayor’s office in City Hall, Lee announced the “Peace at Home” campaign, which will educate the public year-round about domestic violence through flyers, bus shelter signs and other outreach efforts starting in January.
“Domestic violence has always been a challenge for our city,” the mayor said.
He cited increased calls reporting instances of violence in 2011, and also more documented cases of domestic abuse.
The mayor said the campaign aims to educate the public and not just put police and the city’s prosecution in charge of ending domestic violence.
Chiu, with the Board of Supervisors, has supported bringing in $750,000 in funding for the campaign.
He said the money will go toward the coordination of city agencies and new efforts working to end domestic violence.
Gascon said he has seen the circle of violence in his courtrooms with many criminals coming from homes where domestic violence was the norm.
“This is a health issue as much as a crime issue,” Gascon said.
He called for funding and resources to support prevention efforts, especially after what he called a “degradation of services we can provide to victims” of domestic violence at the district attorney’s office.
The launch of the campaign comes a day after a group unveiled an online petition asking San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to resign after his conviction connected to a domestic violence situation with his wife earlier this year.
The website www.rossresign.org was launched by Citizens for an Accountable Sheriff, a group headed by Andrea Shorter, a member of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women.
The site aims to garner support for the sheriff to resign in an effort to avoid a costly recall election.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor false imprisonment for a New Year’s Eve incident in which he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument, causing a bruise. At the time, he called his case with his wife “a private matter, a family matter,” coming under fire by anti-domestic violence advocates.
Mirkarimi was then suspended without pay on official misconduct charges, but he returned to his elected post in October after the city’s Board of Supervisors failed to permanently remove him from office.
At today’s campaign launch, many city and community leaders alluded to Mirkarimi’s remarks.
Lee told the crowd of domestic violence prevention supporters that domestic violence is “our issue. It’s not just a family issue. This is everyone’s issue.”
Kathy Black, executive director at La Casa De Las Madres, which has partnered with the city in the awareness campaign by creating and providing San Francisco Municipal Railway bus signs and Muni and BART station posters, said her organization is committed to increasing awareness about domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is never a private family matter,” she said.
Orchid Pusey, the interim director at San Francisco’s Asian Women’s Shelter spoke about the importance of how domestic violence is discussed in the public, especially with victims looking to city leaders for support and guidance.
“In this past year, we’ve seen how many misconceptions are still out there” about domestic violence, she said. “It’s our basic duty to give out the right information.”
Artwork created by women and children in San Francisco who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence will be featured on a flyer to be passed out at city schools, libraries and community centers, according to Emily Murase, executive director of the city’s Department on the Status of Women, a leading agency in the campaign.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News