Many San Francisco city officials–even Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi–joined about a thousand community members outside City Hall today for a Valentine’s Day rally as part of an international campaign against domestic violence.
Mayor Ed Lee and District Attorney George Gascon led the rally for One Billion Rising, a campaign meant to call attention to the statistic that one in three women and girls worldwide will be beaten or raped in their lifetimes, according to organizers.
Authorities shut down Polk Street in front of City Hall while people danced and held signs denouncing domestic abuse and other violent crimes.
“We all stand united to take a pledge to end violence against women and children for good,” Lee said.
Gascon said, “We here in San Francisco are going to show no tolerance” for violent crime.
Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, a San Francisco-based domestic violence victim shelter, was among a group of victim advocates who also attended the rally.
“After a year of domestic violence being in the news, people were hungering for an event like this,” Black said, referring to Mirkarimi’s misdemeanor conviction 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 was suspended without pay by the mayor, but returned to his post in October after a prolonged administrative hearing that ended when the city’s Board of Supervisors did not garner enough votes to remove him from office.
Mirkarimi, who organized a flash mob dance in the county jail today to highlight the One Billion Rising campaign, also attended the rally outside City Hall but stood with his wife and young son on the steps away from the other city officials.
Mirkarimi said he was not invited to take part in the official rally.
“Did they send me a Valentine? No, they did not,” he said.
“That’s not going to deter me. I’m not going to shy away from my advocacy and desire to see us do everything we can to eradicate violence and domestic violence,” Mirkarimi said.
He said he has repeatedly reached out to the mayor’s office to try to reconcile in the months after returning to his office as sheriff but has been met with silence.
“Crickets are chirping,” he said.
Black said she thought it was “too bad” that Mirkarimi came to the City Hall rally, saying it was potentially distracting to its message.
The campaign was conceived by playwright Eve Ensler and included events around the world. More information about the campaign can be found online at www.onebillionrising.org.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News