Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

SF police, supes announce more cops to fight car break-ins, other crimes

Police Chief William Scott

Police Chief William Scott

Police Chief William Scott joined Supervisors Norman Yee and Hillary Ronen Wednesday to announce the city’s dedicating police staffing at all district stations to fight care break-ins, bike thefts, and other property crimes.

“Year-to-date, San Francisco has experienced a 25 percent increase in car break-ins –19,975 auto burglaries compared to 15,934 last year,” Scott said in a news release. “To change the course of this chronic issue, the San Francisco Police Department is committed to assigning the necessary personnel and resources to reduce car burglaries in our city. I agree to dedicate staffing to combat car break-ins, bike theft, and property crimes at each district station. We’ve also doubled foot patrols citywide and have launched a public education campaign to help prevent car break-ins.”

Yee (District 7) and Ronen (District 9) were set to introduce legislation to dedicate the staffing Wednesday at the Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee, but Scott agreed to immediately implement the policy without having to proceed with the ordinance.

“Chief Scott is showing true leadership by answering this long overdue plea,” stated Yee. “As city leaders, we heard loud and clear that residents have had enough. Car break-ins, bike thefts, and home burglaries have gotten out of control. This is an issue that affects everyday residents and deserves our unimpeded attention.”

Ronen stated, “Car break-ins and bike theft are not victimless crimes. Many people living in my district [which includes the Mission neighborhood] are low-income and rely on their cars and bikes to get to work and school. These thefts can be devastating for them. My constituents deserve real action and I’m 100 percent committed to making sure the police have all the resources they need to staff up in order to stop these crimes. I’m ready and willing to introduce a budget supplemental as soon as Chief Scott says the word.”

Last year, Yee worked with the city’s police commission to establish the Task Force on Strategic Police Staffing & Deployment, which is currently determining citywide police staffing levels based on population growth, workload, and other factors, officials said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, October 4, 2017 @ 3:45 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Governor signs Wiener’s LGBT seniors bill

Photo residents of Stonewall Garden

A new California law will help LGBT seniors and other residents of longterm-care facilities throughout the state, such as the above residents of Stonewall Gardens, an LGBT-affirming senior assisted living community in Palm Springs.

Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law gay Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 219, which is meant to create an LGBT Senior Bill of Rights for people who live in long-term care facilities.

“Our LGBT seniors built the modern LGBT community and led the fight for so many of the rights our community takes for granted today,” Wiener said in a statement. “It is our duty to make sure they can age with the dignity and respect they deserve. I want to thank Governor Brown for joining our coalition in supporting this bill, which will make a real difference in people’s lives. The LGBT Senior Bill of Rights is an important step in our fight to ensure all people are treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The law aims to protect LGBT seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities, such as a facility refusing to use someone’s preferred name or pronoun, or moving someone within a facility or to another facility because of other residents’ LGBT attitudes.

Additionally, SB 219 requires that all long-term care facilities post notices regarding this form of discrimination where their current non-discrimination policies are posted.

Equality California sponsored the bill, which was co-authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose.)

EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a statement, “LGBTQ seniors fought some of the first and most difficult battles for LGBTQ civil rights and deserve our protection. Many of our elders have no children or other family members to care for them and are especially vulnerable to abuse or neglect in long-term care. SB 219 will help ensure that care facilities provide culturally-competent care.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 3:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Sister of SF youth commissioner killed in apparent domestic violence incident

by Sari Staver

Susana Robles Desgarennes, the younger sister of LGBT activist and San Francisco Youth Commissioner Paola Desgarennes, was shot and killed September 30.

(Susana Robles Desgarennes. Photo: Courtesy Paola Desgarennes)

(Susana Robles Desgarennes. Photo: Courtesy Paola Desgarennes)

Police responding to a call from neighbors found Ms. Desgarennes, 20, dead in a car on Rayburn Street, near the Liberty Steps in Dolores Heights. Police sources said that they believe the incident was a murder-suicide. The man who is believed to have killed her was also found dead in the car and a gun was recovered, the sources said.

The apparent shooter was identified as Angel Raygoza, 24, of San Francisco.

Paola Desgarennes, 26 and a Castro resident, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email that her sister was born in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, and was “a mother, entrepreneur, student, and activist” who recently founded a cosmetics company to provide jobs for single mothers.

Ms. Desgarennes had “big dreams that were shut down the day she was tragically killed due to domestic violence,” her sister said.

Plans are underway to establish an organization in honor of Ms. Desgarennes to raise awareness of domestic violence and housing issues in San Francisco, her sister said, adding that many domestic violence crimes could be prevented “if the city would have more resources for families and housing for women who want to leave” abusive situations but cannot because of the high cost of living in San Francisco.

Ms. Desgarennes was an artist and dancer at Loco Bloco, a youth and family organization focused on the development of children and youth through exploration of the arts and she danced for several years at the organization’s carnival, her sister said.

In addition to her sister, Ms. Desgarennes is survived by her 4-year-old daughter, Angel; a brother, Jose; and her mother, Laura.

A Gofundme campaign has been established to help defray educational expenses for Ms. Desgarennes’ daughter. The campaign, which hopes to raise $25,000, was established by Sisters Rising at the Young Women’s Freedom Center, where Ms. Desgarennes had volunteered.

For more information or to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/support-angels-future.

— Cynthia Laird, October 3, 2017 @ 11:56 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF officials report jump in hep A cases among gay and bi men

An increase in hepatitis A cases has been identified among men who have sex with men in San Francisco, officials said in a health advisory Thursday.

“Seven cases have been confirmed since August 1, 2017,” the advisory says. “All seven cases lacked documentation of prior immunization. No clear chain of transmission or common exposure among these cases has been identified, nor was international travel a risk factor.”

Officials said that there’s no evidence linking the cases to hep A outbreaks among homeless people or “illicit drug-using individuals” in other parts of California and the U.S.

“However, limited genotype information suggests at least some of the cases could be linked” to other hep A outbreaks among gay and bi men in the U.S. and Europe.

Transmissions of the hep A virus occur “by consuming contaminated food or liquid and in the context of close personal contact, sexual contact, and by sharing equipment related to illicit drug use,” officials said, adding that transmission “is preventable with immunization,” and a vaccine for the virus “has been routinely recommended” for gay and by men bi the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for more than 20 years.

For more information, visit http://sfcdcp.org/hepatitisa.html.

 

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 28, 2017 @ 1:39 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


‘Date gone bad’ results in burglary

“A date gone bad” last week “resulted in one of the parties breaking into a home.”

Police said that at 11 p.m. Sunday, September 17, the victim reported “that he met a date on a social website who agreed to meet at the victim’s home” in the 200 block of Oxford Street, which is in the Ingleside district.

The suspect texted the victim nine hours later “and said he was on his way,” police said. When the victim told him not to come, “the suspect became angry and threatened to damage the victim’s home and car.”

Hours later, the victim heard someone breaking into his garage and called police. The suspect fled. A description of the suspect wasn’t available.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:12 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


Two attacked in Castro incidents

Two men were recently attacked incidents in the Castro district – one after an argument and the other during a robbery.

The first incident occurred at about 10 a.m. Saturday near the Castro Safeway when the suspect, 25, and the victim, 26, got into a verbal argument in the 2000 block of Market Street, police said. The suspect chased the victim and hit him with a metal pipe.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries. No arrests have been reported.

The second incident happened between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at Market and Castro streets. Police said that the victim, 53, was walking down Market when the suspect started speaking to him. The suspect then pushed the victim down, went through his pockets, and stole his phone and wallet.

The suspect is described only as a Hispanic male who appeared to be 20 to 25 years old. No arrests were made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:31 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


March, rally planned for slain SF artist known as Bubbles

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.55.00 PM

Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Torres

Friends and family of Anthony “Bubbles” Torres, the LGBT San Francisco artist who was shot to death recently in the Tenderloin, will hold a march and rally Friday, September 22 to call on police to find Torres’ killer.

The gathering will begin at 4 p.m. with a march leading from Larkin and Myrtle streets, the site of Torres’ killing, and end at 5 p.m. with a rally at City Hall.

Torres, 44, reportedly got into an altercation with someone from the New Century Theater strip club at 2:50 a.m. Saturday, September 9. According to police scanner activity that was recorded just after the shooting, someone reported that the incident had “spilled out” from the club, and that the suspect “chased the victim across the street, where he fell to the ground. The suspect then stood over him, fired the three rounds, and took off southbound.”

Torres was well known in the Tenderloin and other communities for his love of music, dancing, and handing out free snow cones and cotton candy near the area where he was killed, as well as for wearing big blond wigs and skimpy women’s clothing.

Police said Tuesday, September 19 that the case is still under investigation and that no arrests have been made. Police have also said that they don’t have evidence that Torres’ killing was a hate crime, but a news release from organizers of Friday’s rally says that many feel investigators have been “too quick to dismiss” anti-LGBT hate as a motivation.

According to the news release, Torres had lived in San Francisco for 20 years, most recently in an apartment near where he was killed.

“Torres did things his way and has left a colorful, memorable legacy,” friends stated. “He often insisted that party revelers ‘Shut up and dance,’ which has grown into a catchphrase among the music and arts community.”

Charlotte “The Baroness” Kaufman, a DJ and close friend of Torres’, stated that he “was true to himself, making no apologies for his lifestyle and self expression. He had a million dreams. Anthony also made damn sure that you understood how much he believed in you, in me, in all of us really. Even on his darkest days he could bring smiles to our faces and laughter to our hearts. I feel that we lost a light that could never be replaced.”

Mayor Ed Lee issued a statement Friday, September 15 – almost a week after Torres’ death – asking people “to cooperate with the police so we can bring Bubbles’ killer to justice.” Lee stated that officials would “expend all efforts necessary to support the investigation of this crime.”

Police are “working vigorously to solve” the case, the mayor said, and “while initial reports do not indicate that the killing was motivated by hate, we are nonetheless shocked and saddened that one of San Francisco’s most colorful activists has been lost to violence.”

Friends and supporters have raised more than $13,000 for memorial services and other gatherings in Torres’ honor.

People with information about Torres’ killing may call the San Francisco Police Department’s Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411. Begin the text message with “SFPD.” Tips may be reported anonymously. The incident number is 170 735 890.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 20, 2017 @ 3:43 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF mayor asks for public’s help to solve killing of artist known as Bubbles

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.55.00 PM

Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Torres

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is asking the public to help police make an arrest in the killing of Anthony “Bubbles” Torres, the LGBT artist who was fatally shot over the weekend in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

“We are asking the community to cooperate with the police so we can bring Bubbles’ killer to justice,” Lee said in a statement Friday. “We will expend all efforts necessary to support the investigation of this crime.”

He said police are “working vigorously to solve” the case, and “while initial reports do not indicate that the killing was motivated by hate, we are nonetheless shocked and saddened that one of San Francisco’s most colorful activists has been lost to violence.”

The mayor added that officials “want to express our support for members of the LGBT community affected by this terrible news. San Francisco is a place of love, peace and compassion, and we want every person who lives in this city to feel secure and protected.”

Anyone who feels unsafe is encouraged to contact the San Francisco LGBT Community Center at (415) 865-5555 for information on support and resources.

People with information about Torres’ killing may call the San Francisco Police Department’s Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411. Begin the text message with “SFPD.” Tips may be reported anonymously. The incident number is 170 735 890.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 15, 2017 @ 5:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


SF report shows 16 percent drop in HIV infections

by Liz Highleyman
liz@black-rose.com

The San Francisco Department of Public Health released its latest HIV epidemiology report this week, showing that the number of new infections has declined 16 percent, with decreases seen across demographic groups. Homeless people, however, have higher rates of infection and poorer treatment outcomes.

(Health department HIV Epidemiology Section Director Susan Scheer discusses the latest HIV numbers at a Friday news conference as Dr. Tomas Aragon, left, Health Commissioner Dan Bernal, and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy look on. Photo: Liz Highleyman)

(Health department HIV Epidemiology Section Director Susan Scheer discusses the latest HIV numbers at a Friday news conference as Dr. Tomas Aragon, left, Health Commissioner Dan Bernal, and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy look on. Photo: Liz Highleyman)

The HIV Epidemiology Annual Report for 2016 was released at a news conference at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Friday, September 15 and will be presented in more detail at a Health Commission meeting September 19 and a meeting of the San Francisco Getting to Zero Consortium September 28.

“Highlights of this year’s HIV annual report include at 16 percent decline in new diagnoses to 223 – the lowest number ever reported in San Francisco,” Susan Scheer, director of the DPH’s HIV Epidemiology Section, told the Bay Area Reporter. “This means we have cut new diagnoses by over half since 2006.”

While new HIV infections nationwide decreased by 18 percent over six years (2008 to 2014), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Francisco saw a similar 16 percent drop last year alone, and a 49 percent reduction over the past four years, Dan Bernal, a gay man who sits on the city’s health commission, noted at the press conference.

The latest findings indicate that San Francisco is making progress toward achieving the goals of its Getting to Zero initiative: zero new HIV infections, zero deaths due to HIV/AIDS, and zero stigma against people living with HIV.

“New HIV infections in San Francisco are declining at a faster rate than ever, and the city continues to do better than the nation in reducing new infections,” said Health Director Barbara Garcia, who is a lesbian. “Better yet, new infections are dropping among all groups, including African-American and Latino men, and we are starting to close the disparity gap. It is essential that we focus on disparities in order to get to zero.”

New and total HIV cases

The report, which covers data through the end of 2016, shows that the number of new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco fell from 265 in 2015 to 223 in 2016. This continues a decade-long drop, with a steeper decline starting around 2012.

Experts attribute the decline to a combination of factors including increased testing, the advent of PrEP for HIV prevention, and widespread adoption of early antiretroviral therapy. Studies conclusively show that people on effective treatment that suppresses HIV to an undetectable level do not transmit the virus.

Among newly diagnosed individuals, 87 percent are men, 11 percent are women, and around 2 percent are transgender. Trans women accounted for almost all of the 144 newly diagnosed cases in the transgender category.

By transmission category, 70 percent are men who have sex with men, 9 percent are people who inject drugs, another 9 percent fall into both these groups, and 6 percent are heterosexual. Among gay and bisexual men in particular, the report also noted an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, especially gonorrhea.

By race and ethnicity, 39 percent of newly diagnosed people are white, 28 percent are Latino, 15 percent are African-American, and 15 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander. New diagnoses declined for all groups except Asians-Pacific Islanders, for whom they held steady.

White people and Asians account for a smaller proportion of newly diagnosed individuals compared with their share of the city’s population (about 54 and 36 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), while Latinos and black people accounted for disproportionately more new cases relative to their share of population (about 15 and 6 percent, respectively).

The HIV diagnosis rate among black men in 2016 was 96 per 100,000 people – more than double the rate of 39 per 100,000 among white men. But this was a substantial drop from 140 per 100,000 in 2015. Nationwide, the disparity is even greater: African-Americans account for 45 percent of all new HIV cases while making up about 12 percent of the U.S. population.

One-third of newly diagnosed people in San Francisco were in the 30-39 year age range, followed by those ages 25-29 (24 percent). Young adults age 18-24 accounted for 14 percent of new HIV diagnoses. The 40-49 year age group and people over 50 each accounted for 15 percent of new cases. No adolescents age 13-17 were found to be HIV-positive in 2016, and no infants or children under 13 have been diagnosed with HIV in San Francisco since 2005.

The number of deaths among people with HIV declined even more steeply than new infections, from 257 in 2015 to 165 in 2016. However, the report cautions that the latest number is likely an underestimate due to delayed reporting. Deaths from direct HIV- or AIDS-related causes continue to fall, while deaths due to other causes are rising, the most common being non-AIDS cancers, accidents (including drug overdoses), and heart disease.

As the death rate goes down, the number of people living with HIV goes up. At the end of 2016 there were 16,010 HIV-positive San Francisco residents, accounting for 2 percent of all people known to be living with HIV in the United States, according to the report.

The vast majority of people with HIV in San Francisco – 92 percent – are men, while 6 percent are women and 2 percent are transgender. More than half (59 percent) are white, 19 percent are Latino, 12 percent are black, 6 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and fewer than 1 percent are Native American.

As a consequence of improved survival, the HIV-positive population in San Francisco people is aging. Currently 63 percent are over age 50, while 26 percent are over age 60 and 5 percent are over 70. Only around 5 percent of people living with HIV in the city are under age 30.

“It’s great news that we’re seeing fewer new HIV diagnoses, better survival, and a lessening of racial/ethnic disparities, likely as a result of a whole suite of initiatives rolled out by the health department, community-based organizations, clinics, and individual providers,” Dr. Susan Buchbinder, director of DPH’s Bridge HIV program told the B.A.R. “Now is the time to double down on these efforts, not pull back. The only way to prevent new infections and ensure the health and well-being of people with HIV is through these comprehensive services, with a focus on our most vulnerable populations.”

Disparities in care

San Francisco continues to do a better job than the U.S. a whole in moving people through the HIV continuum of care from testing to initiation of treatment to achieving viral suppression.

Overall, an estimated 93 percent of people living with HIV know they are positive. In 2015 (the last year with complete data), 78 percent of newly diagnosed people were linked to care within a month of diagnosis and 64 percent remained in care for three to nine months.

That year 77 percent of newly diagnosed people – or 73 percent of all people currently living with HIV in San Francisco – achieved viral suppression within a year. It took a median of 13 days from HIV diagnosis to treatment initiation and 76 days to reach an undetectable viral load.

“Deaths from HIV-related causes have continued to decline and overall linkage to HIV care and viral suppression have improved at the population level,” Scheer told the B.A.R. “Even more impressive, the amount of time it takes people who are newly diagnosed with HIV to link to care and to achieve viral suppression has become much faster. Time to viral suppression has been cut in half since 2012 from five months to two and a half months.”

Yet all groups are not benefitting equally from improvements in care. Looking at all HIV-positive people living in San Francisco, men were more likely to achieve viral suppression than cisgender or transgender women (73 percent versus 66 and 67 percent, respectively). White and Asian people (both 75 percent) were more likely than black people (67 percent) or Latinos (69 percent) to become undetectable within a year.

Some advocates have suggested that San Francisco’s overall good progress in preventing and treating HIV is in part related to its small and dwindling black population, as well as the fact that many people at risk for and living with HIV are being displaced from the city due to high housing costs.

Underscoring the effect of socioeconomic risk factors, 13 percent of newly diagnosed people were homeless at the time of their diagnosis. This represents a total of 28 homeless individuals found to be HIV-positive in 2016. Homeless people currently living with HIV in San Francisco were the least likely to reach an undetectable viral load within a year, at 31 percent.

“We can’t look at these numbers and not realize that we’re not going to get to zero unless we address housing issues,” Jeff Sheehy, San Francisco’s first openly gay and HIV-positive supervisor and a co-founder of the Getting to Zero Consortium, told the B.A.R. “We need to prioritize people with HIV for housing. We need to get people off the streets, but also look at what we can do to help people who are still on the streets.”

One such effort is DPH’s Linkage Integration Navigation Comprehensive Services (LINCS) program, which does outreach to help vulnerable groups re-engage in care, including people living in homeless encampments and clients of harm reduction programs. Among homeless people participating in LINCS, the proportion achieving viral suppression rose to 77 percent.

But HIV services in San Francisco could be at risk due to coming federal budget cuts. Sheehy told the B.A.R. that the city can expect up to $1.6 million in cuts to CDC grants over the next year as federal funding is reallocated to jurisdictions with more new infections. He said that he would work with the mayor and Board of Supervisors to backfill the cuts with city funds, as has been done in the past.

“We’re demonstrating with the numbers that we have the tools to dramatically change the course of the epidemic, but we need to keep our momentum going.” Sheehy said.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 2:16 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


2 arrested in Castro robbery

Amaree Wiley (Photo: SFPD)

Amaree Wiley (Photo: SFPD)

Jamie Hughes (Photo: SFPD)

Jamie Hughes (Photo: SFPD)

Two men were arrested after robbing a 66-year-old man in the Castro district Wednesday night.

Police said the 9:30 p.m. incident in the 300 block of Sanchez Street started when three suspects came up behind a man who was walking on the street, grabbed his bag, which contained fruit and a laptop, and knocked him down. The three then fled southbound on Sanchez, but police soon arrested two of the suspects: Amaree Wiley (also spelled “Whiley”), 21, and Jamie Hughes, 19. Both men, who are San Francisco residents and were booked on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy, were no longer in custody as of Wednesday, September 20, according to jail records.

The third suspect, a black male in his early 20s, had not been arrested as of Thursday morning.

The victim, who sustained non-life threatening injuries, refused medical treatment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 14, 2017 @ 4:46 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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