Domestic Violence Consortium Calls for Mirkarimi to Resign, Wife Makes Cameo

Written by Kat Anderson. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on January 12, 2012 with 8 Comments

A press conference led by Beverly Upton (center) of the Domestic Violence Consortium, was held this afternoon calling on newly elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to step down pending an investigation into an alleged domestic violence incident on New Year's Eve involving Mirkiarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez (back row wearing dark sunglasses). Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Kat Anderson

January 12, 2012

In a showing of broad-based support for victims of domestic violence, a group of about 20 women and a few men held a press conference today on the steps of City Hall calling on newly elected Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to step down pending a criminal investigation into charges he allegedly assaulted his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year’s Eve.

Lopez, who denies domestic violence occurred, was spotted in attendance at the press conference wearing dark sunglasses.  It is unclear why she was in attendance, but her attorney, Robert Waggener, told the SFAppeal that Lopez “was on her way to see her husband and saw the press conference, protest, whatever you want to call it, and stopped to sit and watch it for a minute or two. That’s what happened.”

The San Francisco Examiner reports Lopez came to City Hall to pick up the couple’s child.

Eliana Lopez, center, wearing dark sunglasses.

Lead speaker at the press conference was Beverly Upton, the Executive Director of San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium and Partners Ending Domestic Abuse, a 17-member consortium of domestic violence organizations and their supporters committed to effective direct services and public policy.

The original press release called for Mirkarimi to resign, and members of the Domestic Violence Consortium did not disavow the severity of the resolution they seek, just as they emphasized the severity of Mirkarimi’s alleged crime and his conduct stemming therefrom.

With Legal Aid of the Bay Area attorney, Minouche Kandel, at her side, Upton stated, “We are here to say enough. We are not going backwards. This is not a family matter. This is not a private matter,” an apparent response to comments made by Mirkarimi in which he stated the alleged incident was a “private” and “family matter.”

Upton explained that advocates have worked for 30 years with SF officials and law enforcement to get the maximum protections and sanctions in the area of domestic violence, and they are determined that Mirkarimi will be called to task by responding inappropriately to the allegations that have been made against him. The participants in the press conference agreed that Mirkarimi is not taking the alleged crime seriously and vowed, “We aren’t going away. We want to keep the pressure on.”

When a reporter posited that there is a presumption of innocence whenever a crime is alleged, Upton affirmed this civil liberty, but added, “The crime to me is the trying to silence the community, the neighbor, to roll back progress.”

“I am not the judge, nor the jury, but the right thing will be done,” Upton said, adding that San Francisco is “a safe city to report domestic violence.”

“Friends and neighbors should be applauded for doing a public service,” Upton went on to say about the importance of reporting by those outside an abusive relationship. Upton defended Ivory Madison, the neighbor of Ms. Lopez who alerted police of the alleged incident on New Year’s Eve which resulted in Lopez receiving a bruise on her arm.

“She should be applauded for doing a public service,” Upton said. “She is not, quote unquote, out of line. It is egregious that the neighbor has been called ‘out of line’ for reporting domestic violence.”

Sharon Johnson, former Executive Director of the Commission on the Status of Women, read a statement from the Democratic Women’s Forum which made three points: that the District Attorney should seriously investigate the allegations made against Mirkarimi, that Mirkarimi should step aside from official duties pending the resolution of the matter, and that former Sheriff Michael Hennessey was an innovator and a leader in helping victims of domestic violence.

Each member of the Domestic Violence Consortium at the press conference raised their hands signalling agreement that Mirkarimi should  step aside, if not resign, pending a resolution in  the case.

Attorney Kandel added, “This was an opportunity for our newly minted sheriff to show that domestic violence is not a family matter and should not be trivialized. He has not done this. How can people feel safe knowing one of our chief law enforcement officers is capable of this?”

The group hopes Mayor Lee will look into having the Sheriff removed, at least temporarily, if he does not recuse himself.

Upton said Ms. Lopez is represented by an attorney who will not allow her to speak about the case. However, Upton stated, Ms. Lopez “should know that the community supports her and will do everything it can to keep her safe.”

Mikrarimi spokesperson Susan Fahey told reporters following the press conference that Mirkarimi had no comment, referring all questions to his attorney, Robert Waggener.

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and Stanford University. She has made San Francisco her home since 1988.

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Comments for Domestic Violence Consortium Calls for Mirkarimi to Resign, Wife Makes Cameo are now closed.

  1. I just noticed that, at nine minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve, Eliana Lopez stopped to post a request for “Causes: Amazon Watch, a nonprofit organization that works to advance the rights of indigenous people and protect the rainforest of the Amazon Basin,”, to her Facebook page.

    Of course it proves nothing, but I do wonder how endangered or upset she really could have been. It’s not the kind of thing most people think about when they’re angry or in peril.

  2. Indeed, what Greg said. This just confirms my impression that very few people are thinking about Eliana Lopez, who expressed more outrage at their press conference than her husband did, or about their child Theo.

  3. You’re kidding, right? Richmondman, are you seriously suggesting that she was there to support this group?

  4. His wife’s appearance to support this group in their call for her husband to resign says it all.

  5. Double standard?

    When SF Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White clocked her special someone with either a bottle or a wine glass or a beer mug (take your pick, all were reported) in the head and the police had to make an appearance to rescue the dude, not one person called for her to resign.

    Go Niners!


  6. I am a long-time volunteer at the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC) here in San Francisco. CROC helps victims of domestic violence to obtain restraining orders against their batterers, pursuant to California’s Domestic Violence Prevention Act. Domestic violence is behavior driven by a need to control. It can range from threats, annoying telephone calls and stalking, to unwanted sexual touching, hitting, and destruction of the victim’s personal property. Domestic violence occurs across all income levels, races, cultures and age groups. But too often it is a hidden crime. If there is a positive to the domestic violence allegedly perpetrated by Ross Mirkarimi against his wife, Eliana Lopez, it shines a much needed light on a serious problem in our society.

  7. These “advocates” do not speak for me. Under no circumstances should Sheriff Mirkarimi not be at work everyday, doing the job he was elected to do.
    As to this quote from the article:
    “Upton said… Ms. Lopez “should know that the community supports her and will do everything it can to keep her safe.'” If this were true, they wouldn’t have held their press conference today.

  8. I don’t see any “effective direct services” here. Only intrusive self-righteousness without regard for the family concerned.