Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Interfaith council to hold World AIDS Day service

Dr. Charles Garfield

Dr. Charles Garfield

The San Francisco Interfaith Council’s World AIDS Day service is set for Sunday, December 3. The event, which is themed “From Losses to Blessings,” begins at 4 p.m. and takes place at Congregation Sha’ar Zehav, 290 Dolores Street.

“The Interfaith Community remembers the horrific losses of life in the 80s and 90s,” council spokeswoman Maggi Henderson said in an email. “In the midst of the loss and grief we grew in our compassion, our inclusion, and our advocacy. Some 40 years later we are amazed at the changes in medications and lowered infection rates. In 2017 we will count our blessings but will not rest until the cure for AIDS is found, infections rates drop to zero and all have access to care and cure.”

Dr. Charles Garfield, the founder of the Shanti Project, is set to be the keynote speaker. Along with founding Shanti, which provides support to people living with AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses, Garfield is also the author of “Life’s Last Gift: Giving and Receiving Peace When a Loved One Is Dying.”

People are also welcome to join a pop-up multi-faith chorus to sing “All You Need is Love.”  There will be a brief rehearsal at 3. For more information and to get a copy of the music, people may contact Cantor Sharon Bernstein at

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 1, 2017 @ 5:12 pm PST
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Man robbed at gunpoint near Dolores Park

A 57-year-old man was punched and robbed at gunpoint early Thursday morning near San Francisco’s Dolores Park, according to police.

The incident, which occurred at about 5 a.m. at Dolores and Liberty streets, started when three men, who all appeared to be 25, got out of a vehicle and approached the victim. One of the suspects brandished a handgun, and another suspect took the victim’s cellphone. A third suspect approached the victim and tried to pull off his rings, but was unsuccessful, police said.

The victim suffered a non-life threatening injury.

No arrests have been made.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 12:29 pm PST
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Man accused of targeting gay men charged in SF

A man accused of targeting gay men has been charged with murder in the August death of a San Francisco resident.

Michael J. Phillips, 64, was booked into custody last week on charges including murder, first-degree robbery, inflicting injury on an elder or dependent adult, manufacture or possession of fraudulent financial documents, theft of access card, receiving or buying stolen property, and aggravated mayhem, according to the sheriff’s department.

Phillips, who pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday, is accused of killing James Sheahan, 75, “who was found dead with blunt force injuries” August 14 in his Nob Hill apartment, according to Bay City News.

BCN says that prosecutors alleged at Phillips’ arraignment Tuesday that he “has a history of preying on sick elderly men in the gay community,” and that “Phillips befriended Sheahan, seeking to act as a sort of caretaker, and tried to get money from him before killing him when he refused.”

Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart said in court that video footage shows Phillips coming and going from Sheahan’s apartment, and Phillips was eventually found to have things that belonged to Sheahan, according to BCN, which also said that Swart said Phillips may have also stolen guns and other items from two other men.

Max Szabo, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told the Bay Area Reporter Wednesday, “At this time it remains unclear if we will be able to take action into the two preivous instances of alleged theft  in light of the statute of limitations and the subsequent passing of those two victims.”

Szabo said he couldn’t share more details about the other men, and he declined to discuss evidence related to the Sheahan case. He said that Sheahan is the only victim listed in the charges against Phillips.

Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, who represented Phillips Tuesday, didn’t respond to the B.A.R.’s request for comment Wednesday morning.

The San Francisco Police Department declined to release Phillips’ booking photo, saying in an email, “There is still an open investigation and pending ID matters.”

The medical examiner’s office hasn’t issued a final determination of the cause and manner of Sheahan’s death.

Phillips next court date is Thursday, November 30.

The B.A.R. will have more on this story in the Thursday, December 6 edition.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 29, 2017 @ 12:33 pm PST
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Robberies, shootout in Castro

Two people were robbed and a shootout occurred Sunday night and early Monday morning in San Francisco’s Castro district, according to police.

The first robbery took place when a woman was walking home at about 10 p.m.

The woman, 31, was in the 300 block of Church Street, near 15th Street, when two other women approached her, pulled her to the ground, and stole her purse, which contained her wallet, cash, keys, and credit cards, police said. The suspects, who appeared to be between the ages of 18 and 30, then got into a vehicle that fled north on Church.

Then, at 11:30 p.m., a man got into an argument with two other men in the 2300 block of Market Street, near Noe Street. The suspects, who are 26, punched the victim, stole his cellphone, and ran away, police said.

Finally, at about 1 a.m. Monday, police responded to a shot spotter activation at 17th and Church streets. Witnesses said that people in two vehicles had been shooting at each other before fleeing south on Church and then east on 18th Street. Casings were recovered at the scene.

The victims in the robbery cases were left with non-life threatening injuries, according to police. No one was injured in the shootout.

No arrests have been reported in any of the incidents.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 21, 2017 @ 4:38 pm PST
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Tenderloin Tessie’s Thanksgiving dinner set

The annual Tenderloin Tessie’s Thanksgiving dinner is set for 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, November 23 at First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street in San Francisco.

The free dinner includes ham, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, coffee, pumpkin pie, and more. There will also be live entertainment, gift bags, and free clothes. The Lava Mae bus will be on hand for people who want showers.

Volunteer shifts are available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 22, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday.

To volunteer, email Michael Gagne at or call him at (415) 584-3252.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 4:30 pm PST
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Hearing continued for SJ man in sexual assault case

Lamar Dekari Stevens (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff's Dept.)

Lamar Dekari Stevens (Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Dept.)

A hearing for a San Jose man accused of sexually assaulting another man in August has been delayed as the defendant’s attorney continues to investigate the case.

Lamar Dekari Stevens, 36, had been set for a preliminary hearing Monday, but his attorney, Jeff Jackson, got the hearing continued until January 4.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, just before 5 a.m. on August 11, Stevens “forced” his way into the 65-year-old victim’s Menlo Park home through an unlocked window, covered the victim’s mouth, “held a knife to his throat, and demanded money.”

After the victim gave Stevens $40, Stevens sexually assaulted him, Wagstaffe said in a case summary. He then allegedly “demanded the victim’s car keys and credit cards.”

The “victim escaped to a neighbor’s home and called 911,” said Wagstaffe. Police responded “quickly” and saw Stevens running toward a pedestrian footbridge over Highway 101.

After police released their dog, Stevens “jumped 30 feet to the ground, breaking his ankle,” said Wagstaffe.

Prosecutors didn’t object Monday to the continuance of the preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to continue holding Stevens for trial.

Stevens is being held on $8 million bail in Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City. His charges include sexual battery involving a restrained person/masturbation, oral copulation by force or fear, sodomy by use of force, attempted sodomy by use of force, assault to commit mayhem or rape during the commission of first-degree burglary, and felony parole violation, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department.

Wagstaffe said Stevens already has a felony strike for a previous case.

Jackson, Stevens’ attorney, declined to comment for this story.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:29 pm PST
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Farley named new trans adviser by SF mayor

by Sari Staver

Clair Farley, the director of economic development at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center for the past 11 years, has been named the mayor’s senior adviser on transgender initiatives, replacing Theresa Sparks, a trans woman who is retiring.

(Clair Farley)

(Clair Farley)

Farley, 34, is a transgender woman and will begin the position December 4.

“Clair Farley has been an inspirational leader in our city on LGBTQ economic and social rights issues,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a news release. “In her new role she will carry on the important work that Theresa Sparks set in motion and will assure that San Francisco continues to pioneer policies and programming that inspire the rest of the country to follow suit. San Francisco has a long-standing commitment to advancing and protecting the rights of the transgender community and with Clair’s leadership we will continue our work to make San Francisco a safer, more diverse, and more equitable city.”

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Farley said she was honored to have been appointed to the job.

“This has been a remarkable month despite these challenging times, with over seven transgender candidates winning elections across the country and the passing of vital trans policy in California,” Farley wrote.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more in Thursday’s paper.

— Cynthia Laird, November 20, 2017 @ 1:34 pm PST
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Homeless people, activists to sleep out at Powell St. BART

Homeless people and their allies will lay out their sleeping bags at 5 p.m. Thursday at San Francisco’s Powell Street BART station to protest what the Coalition on Homelessness calls “ongoing abuses of homeless people and the failure of the city to provide adequate housing.”

The action, which will include live music, movie screenings, and free haircuts, comes as other organizations are also planning “Sleep Out” events this week.

There are more than 1,100 adults on a waitlist for shelter beds, the coalition said in a news release, which also pointed to the tent encampments that have become common in the city.

“It is clear that now is the time for long-term solutions, not shortsighted political posturing or band-aid solutions,” the coalition said. “Unfortunately the city has chosen to ramp up sweeps of encampments rather than offer housing to those struggling on the streets.”

According to the group, campers have spoken of losing family heirlooms, medications, and other belongings during the sweeps.

“The ongoing criminalization of poor and homeless people serves only to exacerbate existing addictions and mental health issues, while doing nothing to place people in stable housing,” Sam Lew, the coalition’s policy director, stated. “This Sleep Out action will call attention to the inhumanity of move along to nowhere homeless sweeps and cry out for real solutions.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 16, 2017 @ 4:29 pm PST
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Man robbed on Muni train near Duboce Park

A man was robbed on a Muni train near San Francisco’s Duboce Park Wednesday night.

According to police, the 61-year-old victim was riding the train at about 8:15 p.m. When the train stopped at Duboce and Noe streets, another man, who appeared to be 20, punched him and took his cellphone before leaving the train and fleeing in an unknown direction.

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

No arrests have been reported.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 2:40 pm PST
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SF police association head wants apology from DeJesus for Taser comments

The president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association is calling on lesbian police commissioner Petra DeJesus to apologize for calling officers who use Tasers “lazy.”

DeJesus was one of three commissioners who voted November 3 against equipping officers with Tasers, which are also known as Electronic Control Devices. (DeJesus’ effort was unsuccessful, as the motion passed 4-3.)

According to POA President Martin Halloran’s November 15 letter to DeJesus, she told KTVU TV on the day of the vote, “Using Tasers is the lazy cops’ way of getting someone to do something. Oh, if you don’t move quickly enough, I’ll tase you. If you don’t get out of the car, I’ll tase you. It’s a hands on job. They can use other things.”

Halloran told DeJesus, “You have an important position in our community to make such ill-informed and juvenile remarks. You embarrassed not only your colleagues on the commission but all of the hard-working officers on our streets who are trying to make a difference in people’s lives. You seem to think law enforcement is a game. It’s not. Go go a midnight watch line-up at Bayview Station [one of the city’s most crime-ridden districts] or any other station for that matter and explain to them why you think using ECDs is a lazy option.”

He added that DeJesus should either apologize to the officers of the San Francisco Police Department “or have the courage to tell them to their face that you believe they are lazy.”

DeJesus didn’t immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter’s requests for comment. The longtime police commissioner has opposed Tasers for years, and earlier this year, Supervisor Ahsha Safei backed labor leader Olga Miranda’s effort to unseat DeJesus. Miranda eventually ended her bid after the B.A.R. and other media outlets reported on allegations that she’d been physically and verbally abusive toward others.


— Seth Hemmelgarn, @ 1:18 pm PST
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