San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is helping to organize a choreographed dance by inmates and staff at county jails on Thursday as part of an international campaign against domestic violence.

Mirkarimi, whose own domestic violence case nearly led to his ouster from office last year, has invited the group Dancing Without Borders to coordinate a dance in both the men’s and women’s jails, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kathy Gorwood said today.

The Valentine’s Day dance will be to the song “Break the Chain,” the anthem for the One Billion Rising campaign against domestic violence.

Gorwood said rehearsals were held at the women’s jail at 425 Seventh St. on Tuesday and more practice was scheduled today at the men’s jail in San Bruno.

Participation in the event is voluntary, and participants will include civilian employees from the sheriff’s department and other agencies that work with the inmates, she said
Magalie Bonneau-Marcil, founder of Dancing Without Borders, said in a statement, “Being incarcerated can be very isolating and disempowering. By dancing, inmates find an opportunity for personal healing and an invitation to rise as part of a global healing movement to stop violence and oppression.”

Mirkarimi was convicted last year of misdemeanor false imprisonment for an incident in which he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument, causing a bruise. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to undergo counseling.

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi on official misconduct charges, but he returned to his post in October after the city’s 11-member Board of Supervisors did not reach the nine votes necessary under the city charter to remove him from office.

Lee and District Attorney George Gascon, who prosecuted the criminal case against Mirkarimi, are holding their own event Thursday related to the One Billion Rising campaign–a 4 p.m. rally outside City Hall.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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