City and County of San FranciscoHuman Rights Commission

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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the June 17, 2003 Meeting

Adopted July 15, 2003


Committee Members Present: Commissioner Martha Knutzen, Commissioner Theresa Sparks, Jason Alley, Virginia Benavidez, Kirsten Boyd, Sally Buchmann, Chris Caldeira, James DeVinny, Jay Dwyer, Julie Frank, Ted Guggenheim, Jordy Jones, Danny Kirchoff, Bill Kirkpatrick, Nancy Lawlor, Melchor Bustamante, Johnnie Pratt, Aleem Raja, Stephen Schwichow, Morningstar Vancil, Lauren Williams.

Committee Members Absent: Scott Campbell, Yoseñio Lewis, Jorge Romero-Lozano (excused), Lisa Scheff (excused).

Staff Present: Larry Brinkin, Chelsea HaleyNelson (intern), Becca Lunine (intern), Ellise Nicholson, Domenic Viterbo.

Guests Present: Acting Police Chief Alex Fagan, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Ren Phoenix, Police Commander Bob Puts.

Call to Order and Roll Call:

Commissioner Sparks called the meeting to order at 5:39 p.m. Ms. Nicholson called the roll.

Approval of Minutes of May 20, 2003:

Stephen Schwichow moved to approve the minutes as written. Julie Frank seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Comments for Items Not on the Agenda:


Discussion with SF Police Chief Alex Fagan re: Appointing Police Liaison to Demonstrations:

Commissioner Sparks welcomed Acting Police Chief Alex Fagan, Police Commander Bob Puts, and Tommi Avicolli Mecca. Mr. Mecca, as a representative of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, summarized the proposal of the Milk Club, and subsequently of the Human Rights Commission, that the Police Department appoint liaison officers to political demonstrations. Mr. Mecca described an incident in which Gay Shame held a demonstration at the LGBT Center resulting in tensions between demonstrators and police officers. He suggested that by identifying officers who were liaisons to demonstrations, the department would be providing organizers of demonstrations with officers who could negotiate planning. The officers also could be called upon to assist organizers in reducing tensions between police officers and demonstrators should such tension develop at demonstrations. Mr. Mecca suggested that the liaison officers could explain to organizers what behavior would be permissible and what would not be. He described as an example a recent queer anti-war demonstration held without a permit. Organizers met with two officers who identified a permissible route, what part of Market Street to use, etc. When a few demonstrators refused to cooperate, Mr. Mecca told them that they had to leave. No one got arrested or hurt, and Mr. Mecca described this demonstration as a successful example of cooperation between officers and demonstrators. Commission Sparks noted that an upcoming Supreme Court decision on the sodomy issue will result in a demonstration. Mr. Mecca distributed flyers regarding this event.

Chief Fagan then spoke of his many years of experience with the Police Department, and stated that he is a veteran of scores of demonstrations. He said that the department is trained to facilitate demonstrations so that citizens could exercise their free speech rights. An important element of this facilitation is outreach to the community so that communication is enhanced. Another important element is protecting the safety of officers and of the public, including clearing blocked traffic. Due to the density of San Francisco, public safety is compromised if emergency vehicles cannot get through. Chief Fagan said that San Francisco "does demonstrations better than anyone." He noted that the recent anti-war demonstrations were complex, and that to protect public safety, some arrests had to be made. He pointed out that Commander Puts is the head of the Field Operations Bureau, and that Commander Puts and Commander Greg Suhr are the primary liaisons and members of the command staff responsible for demonstrations. Chief Fagan advised Mr. Mecca and others to contact Commander Puts or Commander Suhr to facilitate organization of demonstrations. Chief Fagan noted that a command staff officer, captain or above, is present at all organized demonstrations.

Commander Puts supported the idea of police liaisons, and pledged his continuing commitment to working with organizers and attending demonstrations. He said that when there are groups such as Black Block who do not work with police officers, public safety is compromised. If demonstration liaisons work with the department, officers will cooperate by rerouting traffic and towing parked cars. Commander Puts strongly encouraged demonstrators, especially organizers, to be responsible for each other. Sally Buchmann asked how much notice needed to be given to the department for a demonstration. Commander Puts responded that early notice is preferred, though the department can respond to spontaneous demonstrations. He noted that demonstrations at the airport were under federal jurisdiction and suggested contacting Ed Gomez, head of the Transportation Security Administration, regarding airport demonstrations.

Mr. Mecca asked the police representatives for their perspective on the Gay Shame incident. Commander Puts said police officers were in front of the entrance and that some demonstrators started pushing the officers toward the glass façade. A lesbian police officer made the first arrest, followed by several more. Demonstrators surrounded the police wagon. Chief Fagan advised that there should always be one community point person for a demonstration. He noted that the presence of officers can set people off, and that the department relies on demonstration monitors to handle discipline. Mr. Mecca agreed with the value of self-policing. Commissioner Knutzen stressed the importance of the upcoming Supreme Court sodomy decision, and said that if the decision is negative there will be high emotion at the demonstration. Chief Fagan said that Commanders Puts and Suhr will be at that demonstration.

Commissioner Sparks asked what could be done about violent demonstrators. Chief Fagan replied that peer pressure is crucial, and that officers will assist in that effort. But he said that he will not allow officers (who are mostly young) to be the target of rocks and bricks. Aleem Raja suggested to Chief Fagan that he and other police department representatives continue attending meetings like this, to be visible in the community. Mr. Raja said there isn’t a lot of trust right now, and that increased outreach would help. Chief Fagan agreed, and noted recent events that drew negative attention to the department. He said that because his son was involved, it was difficult for him to respond. He pledged increased communication and cooperation. He noted that as an example, the department worked with the Human Rights Commission on developing protocols for police relations with the transgender community. He further described San Francisco as a magnet for protesters. He said the City, including the department, welcomes protesters from everywhere in the same way that people are invited to patronize theatres or restaurants.

Ms. Vancil asked whether the department could train the community liaisons. Chief Fagan responded that should that occur, the community liaisons might lose credibility and could be seen as police department puppets. Commissioner Sparks thanked Chief Fagan, Commander Puts, and Mr. Mecca for their attendance and cooperation.


Introduction of LGBTH Division Summer Interns:

Ms. Nicholson welcomed summer interns Chelsea HaleyNelson and Becca Lunine to the division. Ms. HaleyNelson introduced herself as a student at University of San Francisco Law School. She will be working on discrimination complaints, and on researching various cities’ Equal Benefits Ordinances so as to produce a model ordinance to recommend to cities considering passing such laws. Ms. Lunine introduced herself as a student at New College School of Law. She will be working on discrimination complaints, and will be researching intersex issues, particularly the occurrence of infant surgeries in San Francisco.


Approval of Letters Implementing Senior Issues Report Recommendations:

Ms. Nicholson referred members to the draft letter in their packets. She asked the committee to view the letter as a model that can be used for future letters to various agencies. If the Commission approves this letter, future letters will not have to come before the Commission for a vote if the language is substantially the same. Ms. Nicholson said that staff would honor a previous committee request and invite representatives of residential facilities for seniors to visit the committee to discuss LGBT inclusion in their programs. Bill Kirkpatrick expressed satisfaction with the tone of the letter, and Johnnie Pratt thought the last paragraph was essential for all letters. Bill Kirkpatrick moved to send the letter to Commissioners for their approval; Nancy Lawlor seconded. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Brinkin said that he would prepare more letters for the next two meetings.


Planning for Pride Day HRC Booth:

Ms. Nicholson and Mr. Viterbo informed members that most shifts are filled but there are still holes in the schedule. Ms. Nicholson informed members as to how to staff the booth, stressing active participation to draw the crowd in. Booth staffers will speak to the public about the Commission’s services and programs, and will solicit signatures for three bills pending in the State legislature: AB-17 (equal benefits in contracting for spouses and domestic partners of employees); AB-196 (adds gender identity to the Fair Employment & Housing Act); and AB-205 (a comprehensive domestic partners rights bill).


Scheduling of 2003-2004 Task Forces:

Ms. Nicholson reported that a small number of committee members responded to staff’s inquiry as to availability for task force meetings. The results are that the Activism Forum Planning Task Force will meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30, beginning July 8; and the Gender Identity Task Force will meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30, beginning July 1. The Intersex Task Force will meet on a date yet to be determined because of scheduling conflicts of interested members.


Commissioners’ Report:

Commissioner Sparks reported that at the June 12 Commission meeting staffer Marcus Arana presented the report from the Police Department/Human Rights Commission Task Force on transgender protocols for the Police Department. Commission Sparks praised Mr. Arana for his leadership in producing an excellent report. She noted that Acting Police Chief Alex Fagan, Acting Assistant Chief Heather Fong, and other members of the Police Department attended the meeting, and that Chief Fagan addressed the Commissioners with praise for the report. He also pledged to implement the recommendations and to recommend their adoption by the Police Commission. Commissioner Knutzen spoke of the good relationship the HRC has with Chief Fagan, and that he has established a good rapport with many people in the LGBT community. Commissioner Sparks also reported on the progress that the Commission is making on the issue of Environmental Racism. A successful workshop was held in which it was announced that PG&E would be sharing some power plant profits with the Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood. The next workshop will be June 25th at 1:00 on the topic of health issues.

Staff Report:

Ms. Nicholson reported that Marcus Arana conducted a very successful transgender training for investigators at the Police Department’s Office of Citizen Complaints. She also reported that Mr. Arana, Ms. Nicholson, and Mr. Brinkin would be attending the first transgender training for command staff of the Police Department, including the chief, on June 20th. Ms. Nicholson reported that staffer David Treanor assisted the Department of Aging and Adult Services on auditing contract proposals. Ms. Nicholson distributed a summary of the recent Lesbian Health Conference attended by staffer Tamra Winchester.

Old/New Business:



Commissioner Sparks announced that committee member Sally Buchmann was the winner of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club’s Simeon White Volunteer of the Year award. Danny Kirchoff expressed disappointment that more LGBT people have not shown interest in the upcoming Supreme Court decision on affirmative action. Sally Buchmann invited members to the Pride At Work cocktail party on June 27th. Commissioner Sparks announced that committee member Jordy Jones is moving to Irvine to pursue a doctoral degree and that he would be resigning from the committee. She thanked Mr. Jones for his excellent service to the Commission.

13. Adjournment:

The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.