Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 17 / 27 April 2017

Man pepper sprayed, hit with bat; another robbed at gunpoint in Duboce Triangle incidents

Google image

Duboce Avenue at Castro Street. Image: Google

A 27-year-old man was pepper sprayed and hit with a bat and a 25-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint in recent incidents in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle district, according to police.

The most recent incident occurred at about 1:50 a.m. Wednesday (April 12) at Castro Street and Duboce Avenue, near Duboce Park, when one man pepper sprayed the victim while another man hit the victim’s hand. Police indicated the second man used a bat to hit the victim.

“No words were exchanged,” police said, and the two suspects and a third man fled the area on foot.

The victim, who suffered non-life threatening injuries, was taken to a hospital.

Police described the suspects only as black males.

Nothing was taken from the victim during the incident.

The robbery occurred at 2:15 a.m. Friday (April 7) in the 100 block of Noe Street, near 14th Street.

According to police, as the victim was walking, a man “pushed him to the gourd and pointed a gun at him.” A woman went through the victim’s pockets and took his cellphone, wallet, ID, and credit cards. The two suspects and a third person fled westbound on Noe in a vehicle.

The victim wasn’t injured.

Two of the suspects were described as Hispanic males, and the female suspect was also Hispanic. Police didn’t provide further details.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 12, 2017 @ 12:33 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Arrests made after teens robbed near Dolores Park

Several suspects were arrested after two teenagers were robbed near San Francisco’s Dolores Park early Sunday morning (April 1).

According to police, three Hispanic males in their 20s approached the victims, who are both 19, at 20th and Church streets at about 12:40 a.m. One of the suspects took out a knife and demanded the teens’ property. Another suspect assaulted one of the victims as all three suspects took their property before fleeing in a dark sedan, Officer Giselle Talkoff, a police spokeswoman, said. Police located two of the suspects and arrested them.

The teens suffered non-life threatening injuries but were not taken to a hospital.

A sweater, cellphones, IDs, and credit cards were taken in the incident.

Police have not released the names of the men who were arrested, and a description of the third man wasn’t available.

Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman, said that there were more than three suspects.

In response to an email from the Bay Area Reporter, Officer Rueca said, “Two of the arrested suspects are juveniles,” and he couldn’t release their names.

Rueca said, “The other suspects are adult males,” but he wasn’t immediately able to release their names.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 6, 2017 @ 3:18 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man starts yelling, gets assaulted in Castro

A 51-year-old man was assaulted in San Francisco’s Castro district early Monday as he left a business and started yelling, police said.

The incident occurred around 2 a.m. when the man was coming out of an establishment in the 400 block of Castro Street and “began yelling,” police said. A group of five black males between the ages of 22 and 27 heard the man and assaulted him, according to police, who didn’t say what the man had been yelling.

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

No arrests have been made, and more information about the suspects wasn’t provided.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:48 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Kaplan hosts Prop 64 forum to help expunge pot-related offenses

Lesbian Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan (at-large) will hold a community forum aimed at educating the public about how to expunge a marijuana criminal record under Proposition 64, the voter-approved ballot measure that legalized adult use of recreational marijuana.

(Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

While the initiative was approved last November, marijuana cannot yet be legally purchased for recreational use, as regulations are supposed to go into effect in 2018. Medical use of cannabis is allowed, as it has been for 20 years after the passage of Proposition 215.

The forum is scheduled for Wednesday, April 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the East Oakland Senior Center, 9255 Edes Avenue.

City Council President Larry Reid and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley are co-sponsoring the event.

In addition to legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana, Prop 64 also includes provisions allowing for reduction or elimination (expungement) of prior marijuana conviction criminal records.

“Prop 64 recognizes that it makes no sense to penalize individuals and communities for engaging in conduct that is widely accepted, permitted, and regulated by the city of Oakland, and which Californians have made clear that we no longer consider a crime,” Kaplan said in a statement.

Kaplan noted that the marijuana prosecutions over the years have disproportionately targeted people of color, especially African-Americans.

“Prop 64 helps end the ongoing damage caused by the ‘war on marijuana’ by letting people with prior records get them cleared,” she added. “This is a great thing, and this forum provides us the opportunity to spread the word.”

There is no cost to attend. To register, click here.

— Cynthia Laird, @ 2:19 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

BREAKING: Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker dies

Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker

Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag, died Friday (March 31) in New York at the age of 65.

In a Facebook post, Cleve Jones, a longtime gay activist and friend of Baker’s, said, “I am heartbroken. My dearest friend in the world is gone. Gilbert gave the world the Rainbow Flag; he gave me forty years of love and friendship. I can’t stop crying. I love you forever Gilbert Baker.”

Jones is calling for people to meet at 7 p.m. Friday at the large rainbow flag in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.

Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for New York’s Chief Medical Examiner, said in response to an email from the Bay Area Reporter Friday, “I can confirm that the death was reported to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner today and our office will be investigating to determine the cause and manner of death.”

Audrey Joseph, a local nightlife promoter who produced the main stage at San Francisco’s LGBT Pride celebration for years, said Baker “was many things to many people but to our community he was an amazing activist and the creator of the Gay Pride flag. Please keep Gilbert in your thoughts.”

Local queer historian Gerard Koskovich said, “We have lost one of the greats of our community. Let us now lower rainbow flags worldwide to half mast in Gilbert’s memory.”

In a call with the B.A.R. Friday, Dan Nicoletta, who’s spent decades photographing LGBT history, recalled first meeting Baker, who became known as the gay Betsy Ross, around 1977.

“He was a classic gay hippie boy,” Nicoletta said. “He was beautiful. He was sweet. He was very creative, like kind of a little tornado, and I just enjoyed being in proximity to him. We co-habitated that creative space together, and it was pure joy, really.”

Gay San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who represents the Castro and other neighborhoods in District 8, said in a statement,  “The 8-color flag which later became the 6-color flag is now the global symbol for the LGBT community. Gilbert was a master of political theatre and the core of his personal being was artistry.  The rainbow flag will always be his greatest work of art.”

Sheehy added,”Gilbert was an inspiration to me and my hero. My heart aches and I will miss him dearly.”

In his statement, gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) said, “Gilbert Baker was an LGBT icon and played a key role defining the modern LGBT community. For generations of LGBT people, myself included, the rainbow flag was part of our coming out and our discovery of community. Rest in power, Gilbert. You will be missed.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement that he was “saddened” to hear of Baker’s death.

“At a time of great uncertainty in the LGBT community, Gilbert’s act of sewing together multicolored materials unified and empowered individuals across the country, helping to bring them together under a common cause,” Lee said.

“The rainbow flag is more than just a symbol,” he continued. “It is the embodiment of the LGBT community, and it has become a source of solace, comfort and pride for all those who look upon it. Standing side-by-side with [gay rights icon and former San Francisco Supervisor] Harvey Milk, Gilbert first raised the flag here in San Francisco, but those rainbow colors are now seen around the world.”

Lee’s office said that the rainbow flag would fly at half-staff from the mayor’s balcony.

However, there are no plans to lower the large flag that has flown for decades over the Castro at Harvey Milk Plaza.

Dan Bergerac, president of the Castro Merchants business group, which oversees the flag, told the B.A.R., “Per Gilbert’s request, the flag will remain as he intended, flying high with pride.”

Jones also made that point on Facebook.

“It was Gilbert’s wish that the Rainbow Flag NOT be lowered, even in his honor,” he said in response to a post by gay activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca calling on the flag to be lowered to half mast. “This wish was expressed clearly and repeatedly to his closest friends.”

The B.A.R. will have more in the Thursday, April 6 edition of the paper.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 31, 2017 @ 1:44 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Witness in SOMA hate crime trial threatened, DA says

Pearly Martin (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Pearly Martin (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

A witness who was to testify Thursday (March 30) in the trial against a San Francisco woman accused of anti-gay hate crimes didn’t appear after he was reportedly threatened.

Pearly Martin, 30, is accused of threatening several men with a pocketknife outside Club OMG, 43 Sixth Street, and yelling statements including “faggots” and “I’m gonna kill you, bitch” in an April 2016 incident. Her charges include criminal threats and false imprisonment, and most of the counts carry hate crime enhancements.

Attorneys gave opening statements this week, and Assistant District Attorney Ben Mains started presenting witnesses.

Testimony was set to continue Thursday morning, but Superior Court Judge Sharon Reardon sent jurors home after telling them, “Unfortunately, a serious issue has come up that needs to be dealt with” before the trial can go on.

After the jurors left, Mains said that he’d received a voicemail from the witness, who said, “He has been threatened and does not feel safe coming to testify,” and “The individual who threatened him knew he was going to testify today.”

Mains said he would need to investigate in order “to determine who made that threat.” He didn’t say who the witness was but he said the man works with another witness who’d been set to testify in the afternoon.

The trial is set to resume Monday morning. Reardon told jurors before they left that the case, which is expected to take about another week, is “still on schedule.”

Martin, who appeared Thursday with her attorney, John Kaman, has been in custody since she was arrested shortly after the incident. Her bail is set at $300,000.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 30, 2017 @ 3:28 pm PST
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2 robbed in Duboce Triangle incidents

Two men were robbed recently in separate incidents in San Francisco’s Duboce Triangle area.

The latest robbery occurred at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday, March 26, when two men approached the 27-year-old victim at Steiner and Duboce streets and brandished a handgun, police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca said. They demanded the victim give them his property, and he complied.

The two suspects joined a third suspect and they fled on foot in an unknown direction with the victim’s cash, Rueca said.

The victim wasn’t injured.

The first two suspects were described as black 20-year-old males. No description was available for the third suspect.

The other robbery started at about 4 a.m. Friday, March 24 at Church and Market streets, where the victim was standing at a bus stop, Rueca said.

Two suspects approached the 73-year-old victim, and as one asked the victim for a cigarette, the other “pulled him to the ground and took his backpack,” according to Rueca.

The victim’s backpack, cash, and cellphone were taken. He was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The suspects, who were described as white males aged 20 to 30, “fled in an unknown direction,” Rueca said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 29, 2017 @ 1:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man hit with umbrella in Castro

A 54-year-old man was taken to a hospital after being struck with an umbrella early Monday morning (March 27) in San Francisco’s Castro district, according to police.

The man walking in the 400 block of Castro Street at about 2 a.m. when he was attacked, police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca said. He “could not recall who hit him,” Rueca said, but a witness described the suspect as a black male in his 40s.

The victim’s injuries were described as non-life threatening.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Robberies, assaults reported in Castro, Dolores Park

Two people were robbed and two others were assaulted in incidents that occurred in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood and Dolores Park in recent days.

The assaults included a man being beaten at 18th and Castro streets and another man getting stabbed with a fork.

Monday, March 20

The robbery in the Castro started at about 8:25 p.m. as the victim, 30, sat at a table at a coffee shop in the 4000 block of 18th Street, according to Officer Robert Rueca, a police spokesman. A man in his early 20s approached the victim and asked him something, then took the victim’s laptop and fled.

The victim chased the suspect and recovered his laptop. The thief got into a vehicle with two other suspects, and they fled south on Hartford.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The first suspect was described as a black male. The second suspect was described as a Hispanic male aged 20 to 24. No description was available for the third suspect.

Sunday, March 19

At about midnight, a group of people “physically assaulted” a 20-year-old man at 18th and Castro, Rueca said. The victim, who had non-life threatening injuries, was taken to a hospital

Rueca didn’t offer details of how the victim was beaten, and no descriptions were available for the suspects.

Saturday, March 18

The suspect, a 43-year-old man, walked up to the victim, a 53-year-old man, and stabbed him with a fork at about 9 a.m. as the victim crossed the road in the 400 block of Sanchez Street. The victim was taken to a hospital and was in “stable” condition, Rueca said.

The suspect, described as a white male, was arrested, but Rueca declined to share his name or other information, citing pending identification matters.

Friday, March 17

Rueca said that at about 10:45 p.m., a man put down his camera “to look at a statue.” When he turned around, he saw a woman pick up the camera and pocket it. When the victim tried to get back his camera, she punched him.

The woman, 20, handed the camera to a man, 22, and they both fled east on 18th. The suspects were described as being Hispanic. No other details about them were available.

No injuries were listed for the victim, who’s 39.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 23, 2017 @ 7:27 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gay man on life support after incident at Hecho bar in Castro

Abel from family

Abel Florentino (a.k.a. Abel Marquez)

The father of a gay San Francisco man who’d been acting violently at the Hecho Cantina in the Castro district Saturday night (March 11) says his son is on life support after first responders gave him a drug they shouldn’t have.

David Monroe shared with the Bay Area Reporter fire department records that say Abel Florentino, 36, was “violently causing a scene while breaking windows” at about 9 p.m. at Hecho, 2200 Market Street. When responders arrived, several people were restraining Florentino.

The records say that as Florentino continued to fight, “this crew administered 5 mg Versed IM” – a sedative also known as midazolam that’s often used before medical procedures – in an apparent effort to sedate him. As responders secured restraints on Florentino, he “became limp.”

Medical records say that about two minutes after Florentino was given versed, he was “noted to be apneic and pulseless.”

Monroe says that medical staff have told him that Florentino had methamphetamine in his system, and the records say alcohol could be smelled on his breath. The documents say that when Florentino arrived at the emergency room, he presented “for evaluation of cardiac arrest.”

Fire department records say that Florentino suffered cardiac arrest after emergency medical service providers arrived. The cause is listed as “drug overdose.”

A Gofundme page established for Florentino (who also uses his husband’s last name, Marquez) says he suffered a heart attack.

Monroe believes that the sedative is what led to Florentino being on life support, where he remains at San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital. (Monroe is Florentino’s stepfather but says Florentino referred to him as “Dad.”)

Police sergeants that Monroe says he’s spoken with didn’t immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter’s requests for comment.

A fire department spokesman hasn’t responded to the B.A.R.’s messages, and a hospital spokeswoman declined to comment.

Hecho’s owners haven’t responded to interview requests.

Florentino’s family is asking any witnesses to the Hecho incident to send an email to

The Bay Area Reporter will have more on this story in the Thursday, March 23 edition.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, March 17, 2017 @ 4:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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