A protester whose arrest at San Francisco’s 2019 Pride Parade intensified pressure on the police to atone for past transgressions against the LGBTQ community is suing the officers who detained them, alleging excessive force and retaliation.
The protester, then 21-year-old Taryn Saldivar, was chanting from the sidelines while other activists blocked Market Street last June to call for the removal of police from the Pride Parade when officers allegedly shoved them without cause.
Saldivar, who goes by the pronouns “they” and “them,” was on the ground when an officer yanked and broke the cane they used to walk, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday. They were dragged into the street and “violently” arrested.
Videos posted to social media showed police pushing people onto the sidewalk as protesters chanted “cops out of Pride” and yelled “F— you” at officers. Saldivar could be seen flailing on the ground as officers pulled them in various directions.
The City Attorney’s Office, which represents the police in court, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
The protesters planned to block the parade to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the New York Police Department raiding a gay bar and violently clashing with demonstrators during the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
“These activists were attempting to hold space for 50 minutes,” EmilyRose Johns, an attorney for Saldivar, said Friday. “Rather than allow the acts of civil disobedience, the police arrested them violently.”
#SFPD in action. This is their response to a PEACEFUL queer protest at #SFPride #prideisprotest #PoliceBrutality #shameful #inhuman #policeareourenimies #fuckthepolice #keepcopsoutofpride #queerlivesmatter #translivesmatter #SFPride2019 #SFprideparade pic.twitter.com/nUaOfdto3a
— Ashlee Richards 🌈 (@Ashlee_withanE) June 30, 2019
Saldivar was arrested amid calls for the San Francisco Police Department to reconcile with the local LGBTQ community over its mishandling of the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot and other events. By August 2019, Chief Bill Scott apologized.
“We will atone for our past,” the chief said.
The lawsuit also comes at a time when officers in cities across the nation are being accused of using excessive force against protesters demonstrating against police violence following the Minneapolis killing of George Floyd.
Saldivar was one of two arrested at the parade last year.
At the time, a police spokesperson said protesters “broke down barricades and threw water bottles at officers as they rushed onto the parade route.”
“At least one subject actively fought with officers during the incident and one officer sustained non-life threatening injuries,” the spokesperson said.
Saldivar was cited on suspicion of battery on a peace officer, resisting arrest and interfering with a parade route. The District Attorney’s Office charged them with misdemeanor resisting arrest, according to a spokesperson, but the case was dismissed in March.
The local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and San Francisco Pride had called for the case to be dismissed.
Among the officers named in the lawsuit are Lt. John Burke.
Burke was the first to shove Saldivar in alleged retaliation for their anti-police chants, Johns said.
“Lt. Burke came over and shoved Mx. Saldivar to the ground for no reason,” Johns said. “The only reasonable conclusion is that it was related to their chanting.”
The lawsuit accuses Burke of having “a documented history of treating peaceful protesters violently.”
While Burke appears to be named in two lawsuits over the mishandling of protesters in 2009, court records show one of the cases was voluntarily dismissed. A jury found Burke did not use excessive force in the second case.
The other officers named in the Saldivar suit are Ryan Gonzalez, Rudy Paredes and David Hoang.
Gonzalez allegedly fractured Saldivar’s wrist with a “twist lock grip,” while Paredes allegedly partially dislocated Saldivar’s left hip with a “figure 4 leg lock.”
Saldivar also struck their head against the sidewalk during the arrest and suffered a concussion, according to the lawsuit.
Supporters raised more than $13,000 for Saldivar with a GoFundMe last year.