Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Sisters mum on Pink Saturday plans; shooting investigation continues

Pink Saturday in 2005

Thousands of people will converge on the streets of the Castro on Saturday night, June 25, for Pink Saturday.

But don’t tell anybody.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the charitable group of drag nuns who’ve been organizing the event since 1997, refuse to say much about it.

This morning (Thursday, April 14), the Sisters received unanimous approval for the event from San Francisco’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, the board that oversees street closures in the city.

But Sister Risque, who represented the nuns at the meeting and even signed in using his drag name, didn’t want to talk about Pink Saturday afterward. He said the city’s asked the Sisters not to publicize it, and he asked the Bay Area Reporter not to write about it.

The city board had few questions for Risque, and none of their queries were directly related to security, even though Stephen Powell, 19, was fatally shot at last year’s Pink Saturday. Police are continuing to investigate the homicide.

Asked about security plans for this year’s event, Risque would only say, “It’s all in the permit.” He said he’d send a copy to the B.A.R.

In a phone interview, Sergeant Chuck Limbert, LGBT liaison for Mission Police Station, which oversees the Castro and other neighborhoods, was apparently unaware that the Sisters aren’t supposed to talk about Pink Saturday. He referred questions about the event to Risque.

Informed that that had been tried already, he said, “We’ve taken in last years’ incident and are revising safety plans for this year.”

He said security details are still being worked out, but “The Sisters are working on hiring additional security, and we as a police department are making sure we have enough staff to ensure safety.”

He wouldn’t say how many more police officers would be staffing the event. However, he did talk about what police and Sisters security personnel would be looking for in the crowd coming into the party.

“We’ll be looking at individuals that come and what they’re wearing, how they’re acting, if they have the possibility of having weapons on them, if perhaps they’ve already overindulged in the party atmosphere of the weekend,” said Limbert. “Any behavior which presents itself [that] is detrimental to everyone else having a safe environment to have a good time will be dealt with.”

Possible gang involvement in the Pink Saturday shooting has been part of the police investigation.

Homicide inspector Kevin Jones has said, “I’d be uncomfortable calling it gang-related,” but he’s confirmed that a “fairly large group of young people” from the city’s Bayview neighborhood, which has been known for gang activity, had come to the event. He’s also confirmed that the shooter and victim were familiar to each other, and that the shooting was preceded by an argument.

In addition, the homicide on Pink Saturday was followed by a second shooting two days later at a vigil for Powell, just blocks from an area covered by a gang injunction.

Asked if security staff would be looking for signs of gang affiliations, Limbert said, “No I’m looking at every one … every single person.”

He said he wants to make sure people “come with the intention that this is for a good time. If you have any other thoughts, we’re going to be looking for you.”

Limbert wouldn’t offer many details on what type of clothing they’d be watching for.

“Everyone wears funky clothes,” he said.

He also said there wouldn’t be any racial profiling.

“We don’t do that in San Francisco,” said Limbert. “Everyone is welcome,” he said, but police want to ensure people come with “the right attitude.”

The event, held on the eve of the city’s LGBT Pride Parade and festival, is about diversity, he said, “not about settling scores.”

“This is about celebration,” said Limbert. “If you have any other agendas, then don’t come.”

Limbert said members of the police Gang Task Force would be at the event, as well as adult and juvenile probation workers.

Police continue shooting investigation

The investigation into Powell’s killing remains open.

Despite the fact that he was shot in the midst of a large crowd, no witnesses have come forward.

Lieutenant Lea Militello, the head of the San Francisco Police Department’s homicide unit, said, “That’s the biggest challenge, because there were a lot of people out there. … We probably know who our suspect is, but the problem is we don’t have a witness. We don’t have anybody that’s come forward.”

Militello appeared optimistic that this year’s event would be non-violent.

“I hope we have a safe event,” she said. “I really, really do.” She thinks the incident was a “freak” occurrence.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro, also appeared hopeful.

“We can never guarantee there won’t be a freak situation,” but he said the Sisters have “a good plan” in place.

Wiener said he’s encouraged the Sisters and police to work with probation and parole agents to keep their charges away from the neighborhood that night under the threat of being taken into custody if they go.

He said it’s “a relatively small group of people who make a disproportionate amount of trouble.”

Police Captain Greg Corrales, who oversees the Castro and other neighborhoods in the Mission District, said there are “no significant changes from last year” as far as security. He said the shooting was an “aberration.”

Anyone with information about the Powell case can contact the homicide unit at  (415) 553-1145, call police anonymously at (415) 575-4444, or text a tip to 847411 (TIP411). Type “SFPD” and then the tip.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, April 14, 2011 @ 2:42 pm PST
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