Domestic Violence Groups Demand Mirkarimi’s Removal from Office

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on March 15, 2012 with 1 Comment

A consortium of groups led by Beverly Upton (center) against domestic violence today called on San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to be removed from office. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

March 15, 2012

With the ink barely dry on a signed plea agreement with prosecutors following embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s admission of guilt Monday to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment over an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year’s Eve – a coalition of mostly female anti-domestic violence advocates today demanded Mirkarimi resign or be removed from office.

The same group called on Mirkarimi to step down in January.

Calling the Sheriff “a national embarrassment,” Kathy Black, the executive director of La Case de las Madres, a shelter dedicated to victims of domestic violence, told a bevy of reporters gathered on the steps of City Hall, “I think it would be best for everybody involved if he would step aside. If Sheriff Mirkarimi will not do the right thing, then the mayor and the Board of Supervisors must.”

“The bottom line is we feel it would be improper for San Francisco’s Sheriff to be overseeing programs and imposing domestic violence sentencing on inmates when he was convicted under similar circumstances,” Black added.

La Casa de las Madres Executive Director Kathy Black.

Asked if Mirkarimi is entitled to “an opportunity for redemption and rehabilitation,” Beverly Upton of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, told Fog City: “We believe everybody can change. We believe almost anybody can change and he’s going to be given that opportunity. It is a gift that he’s getting 52 weeks to change his behavior, parenting classes – so much better than being in jail.”

Pressed further, Upton added, “Do you want our chief jailer to be somebody whose been convicted of false imprisonment? That breaks my trust and I think it’s going to break the trust of a lot of San Franciscans.”

Mayor Ed Lee, who has the authority to suspend Mirkarimi while the Ethics Commission determines whether Mirkarimi’s conviction rises to the standard of official misconduct under the city charter, said he would make a decision following Mirkarimi’s formal sentencing on Monday. Lee said his assessment of the facts includes consideration of whether Mirkarimi’s actions on New Year’s Eve constitutes an act against the public.

Court documents paint a picture of a couple experiencing marriage difficulties with concerns over a possible divorce and child custody battle.

“Is it something against the public?” Lee said to a flock of reporters on Monday. “I mean, that is part of the determination of official misconduct is having done something in that office that would degrade the functioning of that office or the functioning of that position.”

In exchange for Mirkarimi’s plea agreement, prosecutors dropped three misdemeanor charges of domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. His sentence includes three years probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, and $590 in court fines. A stay away order imposed in January remains in effect subject to a Family court order.

But District Attorney George Gascón signaled today Mirkarimi could still face a criminal trial based on recent comments Mirkarimi made to media outlets since agreeing to the plea deal. The comments suggest Mirkarimi pled out of concern for his family’s well-being and mounting legal costs. Mirkarimi’s defense team had also sought and failed to exclude from evidence a video taken by Lopez’ neighbor, Ivory Madison, on January 1, which shows a bruise on Lopez’ right arm.

“There is a guilty plea here, and I know there’s almost an attempt (by Mirkarimi) to deny that this has occurred: ‘I didn’t really do this. I’m being forced to do this.’ That’s very concerning to me, to be very honest with you,” Gascón said in a meeting with The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board.

“We’re going to address this on Monday because we’re not in the custom, not in the habit, of taking a guilty plea from somebody who is not guilty,” he added. “If the defendant in this case believes he is not guilty, then we should go to trial and let a jury decide.”

Mirkarimi has promised a full explanation of the events surrounding the altercation with his wife. That explanation is expected immediately following his sentencing on Monday.

Mirkarimi was not available to comment for this story, his spokesperson said.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Domestic Violence Groups Demand Mirkarimi’s Removal from Office are now closed.

  1. Compassion has enemies. Moral outrage and fear are two of them.

    Please, let’s not be victims of bitterness: Let’s punish the crime, and not go overboard.

    In the words of MLK: “We are all aware of the weaknesses of human nature. We have all made mistakes along the way of life, and we have all had moments when our emotions overpowered us. Now some of us are here this evening to stone one of our brothers because he has made a mistake. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
    “Will we be like the unforgiving elder brother, or will we, in the spirit of Christ, follow the example of the loving and forgiving father?”