SF rallies against a hate crime

May 2, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO--More than 300 people came together in San Francisco's Mission District on April 15 to protest an April 1 assault on a transgender woman.

The action was called for by El/La Trans Latinas and co-sponsored by over 20 LGBT and social justice groups, including Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the SF LGBT Center, Transgender San Francisco, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, LYRIC and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The crowd was extremely diverse and included people of all ages, sexualities, genders, races and ethnicities. The program, organizing meetings and materials were bilingual in English and Spanish.

The rally called for an end to hate crimes against transgender people and violence of all kinds in the Mission, and for people in the community to look out for one other and not be bystanders to such assaults.

A key demand of the protesters was an end to budget cuts that are cutting lives short and creating the conditions for violence. Community activist Mia Tu Mutch called on protesters to "change the conditions that allow for hatred and violence to thrive in this city."

The rally emphasized forming community solutions and addressing the root causes of acts of violence in the neighborhood. Politicians and city officials who addressed the crowd about the need to severely punish the attackers but brought no other suggestions about how to improve city safety and social service programs were booed by protesters.

Many organizers, speakers and attendees questioned how many politicians are claiming to help us end violence with hate crime legislation alone while simultaneously slashing money for health care, education, job programs and homeless services.

The community organizers who spoke won a lot of respect from the crowd because they discussed real steps that will unite communities, such as opposing hateful anti-immigrant laws and supporting each other's events--verbalizing the sentiment that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Organizers from CUAV, a community-based LGBT safety organization, handed out cards to passersby about how to not be a bystander and intervene in instances of violence, whether they be against the elderly, LGBT people, immigrants or women. During the rally, the safety team, protesters and passersby came together to chant a threatening neo-Nazi down and get him to the leave.

The rally represented an important step forward, with the Mission District and San Francisco LGBT communities coming together to discuss grassroots, community-based solutions for ending violence based in solidarity and improving the social and economic conditions that create violence in the first place.

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