Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 33 / 17 August 2017

Former B.A.R. staffer robbed in Tenderloin

Dennis Conkin (Photo: Facebook)

Dennis Conkin (Photo: Facebook)

A former Bay Area Reporter writer was robbed last Thursday night (June 29) in the Tenderloin.

In a Facebook post, Dennis Conkin, 63, who uses a wheelchair, said he was leaving the Vietnamese restaurant Tu Lan, 8 Sixth Street, when a woman who’d been harassing and “lying in wait” for him grabbed at the food he had in a Trader Joe’s bag.

Conkin said he told her, “Get away from me, bitch,” and someone from the restaurant came out and asked her what she wanted.

The woman then “followed me down the street and said you can’t call me (the N word),” said Conkin, who denied using the slur.

The woman pepper sprayed him in his eye, then followed him down Stevenson Alley. Another woman grabbed his hair “and started yanking my head back,” he said, but “I grabbed for her hand and got it.”

The first woman started hitting him, so he grabbed her shirt, said Conkin. As he did that, he was pulled out of the wheelchair.

Conkin screamed, and the woman grabbed the Target bag he’d been carrying and ran away. He went back to his home, which is two blocks from the scene, and someone called police and an ambulance.

In an email to the B.A.R., Conkin said that the thieves stole a Target bag that held his art supplies, Valium, and laxatives. He’s also missing $100, which he suspects fell out of his pocket “during the melee.”

“I do hope they thought the clear, lemon-flavored liquid in the bottles was a soft drink and enjoyed it,” he said in his Facebook post. “It was a strong, always works laxative.”

Conkin said he suffered an abrasion on his head where he hit the sidewalk when he came out of his wheelchair.

“Even though I love Tu Lan’s  shrimp fried rice, I won’t be going out to get it in my wheelchair by myself after dark anymore,” he told the B.A.R. “I’m not a young queen.  I’m a geezer and disabled.  What was I thinking? It was pretty awful. Pepper spray burns and fists hurt.”

Police said the incident occurred at about 9 p.m. They described the suspects only as two black females. One appeared to be 60 and the other was in her 20s.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, July 6, 2017 @ 1:55 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Woman robbed at gunpoint in Dolores Park

Two men with a gun robbed a woman in San Francisco’s Dolores Park Saturday night (July 1).

According to police, the woman was sitting in the park with her boyfriend at about 7 p.m. when the two suspects approached them. One suspect, a Hispanic male who appeared to be 20, brandished a gun, then put the weapon in the woman’s purse and handed it to the other suspect, an 18-year-old Hispanic male.

Both men fled in different directions. The teen was taken into custody on 18th Street. His name hasn’t been released. The other man wasn’t apprehended.

The victim, 25, wasn’t injured. Her purse and wallet were taken, but the purse was recovered.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gun, knife used in Castro robbery

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 11.57.51 AM

18th and Church streets (Image: Google)

Two men used a handgun and a knife early Thursday morning (July 6) to rob a woman in San Francisco’s Castro district.

The 1:15 a.m. incident at Church at 18th streets started when the two suspects approached the woman and tried to take her purse, police said.

“A struggle ensued,” police said, but after the men “brandished their weapons” and demanded the woman give them her property, she complied. The suspects then fled north on Church.

The woman, who’s 25, and the 22-year-old man who was with her weren’t injured. Her purse, passport, cellphone, tablet, and credit cards were taken.

The suspects were described only as Hispanic males. One is 20 to 30 years old, and the other appeared to be 30.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 11:54 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Small fire breaks out in the Castro over Pride weekend

San Francisco firefighters spent Saturday afternoon (June 24) battling a fire at 495 Castro Street, according to the fire department’s twitter feed.

(A ladder truck was deployed on a fire in the Castro Saturday afternoon. Photo: Jim Provenzano)

(A ladder truck was deployed on a fire in the Castro Saturday afternoon. Photo: Jim Provenzano)

At about 4:40 p.m. the department said the blaze was contained. It was reported to be in a building that has residential above commercial. There were no reported injuries. The number of displacement was unknown, according to the department.

A ladder truck was deployed and witnesses responding on twitter said firefighters were “sneaking hoses from 2nd floor up to 3rd.”

The scene blocked off streets in the area during a crowded Pride weekend.

BARtab editor Jim Provenzano was in the area and took some photos.

The fire department said the cause of the blaze is under investigation.

— Cynthia Laird, June 24, 2017 @ 4:54 pm PST
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LGBTQ protest planned for SF McDonald’s

Image: Logopedia

Image: Logopedia

A protest is planned for a McDonald’s in San Francisco’s Mission district Friday, June 23 to call attention to the company’s alleged harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ employees, especially trans workers.

Protestors will gather at 4:45 p.m. at the 24th Street BART station and then cross the street to the restaurant, located at 2801 Mission. After a rally, they’ll join the Trans March, which is set to leave Dolores Park at 6 p.m. and head to Turk and Taylor streets.

McDonald’s protestors say they’re upset that the company is sponsoring Pride celebrations in San Francisco and other cities while treating trans workers and others unfairly. San Francisco’s Pride celebration and parade is set for Saturday, June 24-Sunday, June 25. Protestors are also calling on the fast food chain to pay its workers $15 an hour and give them union rights.

In May, a trans McDonald’s worker in Michigan filed a lawsuit against the company charging “‘extreme sexual harassment and discrimination,’ including suffering genital groping on the job and being forced to use a broom closet as a bathroom,” according to an email from the group Fight for $15. Other LGBTQ McDonald’s workers have filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming sexual harassment and discrimination, said Urbano.

El/La Para TransLatinas and the San Francisco chapter of Democratic Socialists of America are also expected to take part in Friday’s protest.

McDonald’s spokespeople didn’t respond to a request for comment.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 22, 2017 @ 1:02 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

‘Family’ member named SF poet laureate

Kim Shuck. (Photo: Doug Salin Photography)

Kim Shuck. (Photo: Doug Salin Photography)

San Francisco officials announced Wednesday (June 21) that Kim Shuck has been named the city’s poet laureate.

Shuck, whose poetry draws from her experiences as a lifelong San Francisco resident and her multiethnic background, which includes Cherokee and Polish heritage, declined to say in a Facebook message exactly how she identifies, but she said she’s part of the LGBT “family.”

“Kim’s stirring poetry celebrates the spirit of San Francisco and reflects the open and inclusive values of this city,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a news release. “She embodies the legacy of our city’s bold and fearless storytellers, and as a fifth-generation resident she has a unique appreciation for what makes San Francisco special.”

City Librarian Luis Herrera stated, “As San Francisco Poet Laureate [Shuck] will celebrate our strength of language and culture. … We’re excited to work with her to further our city’s literary and poetic tradition by engaging our communities and bringing us together through poetry.”

Shuck, who lives in the Castro, has published several poetry books, including “Clouds Running In,” and “Rabbit Stories,” among other works. She teaches at the California College of the Arts, and she’s volunteered for the San Francisco Unified School District for over 20 years. Her visual art has been displayed in exhibits around the world. She was also once a member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Advisory Committee..

“This is an honor, it’s a responsibility, and it’s an invitation to continue the good work of previous laureates,” Shuck stated. “It’s also an opportunity to add some of my own touches, both political and silly. The San Francisco Public Library was a good friend when I was a kid, primarily the Mission, Noe Valley and Castro branches, and I’m looking forward to working on these new projects.”

As the poet laureate, Shuck will give an inaugural address at the public library, and she’ll participate in poetry events that serve multiethnic and multigenerational city residents, among other duties.

Lee appointed Shuck after she was nominated by a nine-member committee comprised of past poet laureates, city officials, and others. She’s succeeding Alejandro Murguía, San Francisco’s sixth poet laureate.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 21, 2017 @ 2:34 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

SF police offer Pride safety message

Celebrating at the 2007 Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Celebrating at the 2007 Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The San Francisco Police Department has issued a message urging everyone to be safe during the city’s LGBT Pride celebration and parade, set for Saturday, June 24-Sunday, June 25. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world will be in the city for events taking place in the week around the festival.

Police are “working closely with Pride organizers and our city partners to make Pride Week a safe and enjoyable event for everyone,” stated Police Chief William Scott. “San Francisco is a very welcoming city and SFPD is proud to protect and serve everyone joining us from near and far for this year’s Pride celebration.”

Police are also reminding people that no organized event is set for the Castro on Saturday night, and the streets will remain open.

“Laws prohibiting possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages and drinking in public will be strictly enforced,” police said. “San Francisco and the Castro District offer a wide variety of restaurants and entertainment venues and we encourage celebrants to patronize local businesses and to celebrate responsibly.”

The night before the main Pride festival had been known for the Pink Saturday party that drew thousands of people to the Castro’s streets, but the party ended after growing concerns about violence.

As with last year’s festival, people attending the 2017 celebration in Civic Center will have to pass through metal detectors or be checked by handheld wands.

Bags may also be searched, and people are encouraged to leave them at home. Any bags larger than 18 inches by 18 inches won’t be allowed, and lockers won’t be available.

Police also warned, “Don’t accept drinks from strangers,” and be “cautious about leaving a bar or club with a stranger. A rule of thumb is that if you feel ‘unsure’ about someone, rely on that instinct and do not go with that person.”

No outside alcohol will be allowed inside the Pride celebration gates.

Both uniformed and plainclothes officers will be on hand in “significant” numbers at Pride-related events, police said. Anyone who sees suspicious activity is encouraged to contact event staff or a police officer.

Many of the security measures were put in place after the June 12, 2016 massacre at Orlando, Florida’s gay Pulse nightclub, where Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 people and wounded 53 before he died in a shootout with police.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:23 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man attacked, robbed near Dolores Park

Two men attacked and robbed another man early Wednesday morning (June 21) near San Francisco’s Dolores Park.

The 3:20 a.m. incident started when the suspects approached the 38-year-old victim at 19th and Church streets, “attacked him,” and took his cellphone, wallet, ID, credit cards, and keys, according to police.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

No descriptions were available for the suspects, who fled the scene, and no arrests have been made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 10:18 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

BART nixes opening early for SF Pride Sunday, will increase service throughout the day

BARTmobile_SF PRIDE webUnlike last year, the Bay Area’s regional transit agency will be opening its stations at their normal time at 8 a.m. this Sunday, which is the annual Pride parade and celebration in San Francisco.

East Bay LGBT leaders in years past had asked that BART open sooner that day for people who need to be in the city to attend early morning events.

But BART’s pilot program in 2016 of opening several stations at 7 a.m. for those traveling to the LGBT celebration from Alameda and Contra Costa counties turned out to be a dud.

“Staff decided that it wasn’t successful enough last year,” BART board president Rebecca Saltzman told the Bay Area Reporter this week in response to questions.

Saltzman, a lesbian who lives in Oakland, told the B.A.R. that the agency will be running more trains throughout the day as it has done in years past to accommodate the crowds. Pride Sunday is usually one of the transit agency’s busiest days of ridership.

“There is going to be increased service throughout the day as really we have had every year,” she said. “There are plans for extensive train service.”

In 2014 BART’s usual plans to add more trains to handle the Pride crowds failed to be executed due to an inexperienced employee being in charge that day. Saltzman, who happened to be out of town that year, was flooded with angry phone calls and messages regarding the overcrowding.

Ever since then she has worked with BART staff to ensure the problem doesn’t occur again. As the agency noted in a June 15 posting to its website, “On Sunday, June 25, BART will increase the amount and length of trains to imitate Saturday service and weekday commute-length trains. We will open at 8am.”

This year BART is also trying a new tactic and encouraging people headed to Pride to schedule their trips during less crowded times.

DCzQVzyXUAAAekqThe agency, via its social media accounts, has posted suggested times when it is less crowded on Pride Sunday based on its ridership data from years past. Saltzman noted that 9 a.m. sees less crowds while one of the busiest hours is 11 a.m., right after the parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m.

“BART did, for the first time this year, we put out when the crowding is happening, so people who want to avoid the crowding can go at a different time of day,” said Saltzman. “It is meant to help people who don’t want to deal with very crowded trains.”

The agency is also advising passengers headed to the festivities to use BART’s mobile website to check train departure times and other service related information.

“The service will not match our published schedules because of the additions,” noted the agency. “To avoid long lines at ticket machines, purchase a round-trip ticket beforehand or use a pre-loaded Clipper card.”


— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 10:17 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Queer man accused of threats, stalking sent to mental hospital

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo:

Demarus Allen-Batieste (Photo:

A queer East Bay man accused of stalking and threatening to kill a former mentor has been sent to a California mental hospital.

Demarus Allen-Batieste, 30, of Hercules, California, was committed Wednesday, June 7 to Napa State Hospital for up to five years.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, Allen-Batieste had been “a gifted student” at the Zurich Symphony, but he was expelled from the program after he developed a “serious mental illness.”

He then “started stalking” a female mentor he’d met at the symphony “and threatened her with multiple vile emails,” Wagstaffe said. “The emails included threats to kill the victim and numerous delusional threats” to her.

In August 2015, Allen-Batieste, who once told the Bay Area Reporter that he hasn’t “done anything illegal,” entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Last week, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Donald Ayoob was advised that Allen-Batieste hadn’t cooperated with a doctor who’d tried to interview him to determine where he should be placed.

Ayoob remanded Allen-Batieste into custody and committed him to the hospital. He also authorized doctors to involuntarily medicate Allen-Batieste “as medically needed,” Wagstaffe said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, June 15, 2017 @ 3:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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