Political figure says guards assaulted her

The vice president of one of The City’s Democratic organizations has filed assault charges against security guards who forcibly removed her from a San Francisco fundraiser for a group focused on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Catherine Cusic, 63, the vice president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, said two to three officials fractured her arm and left serious bruises on her body when she was kicked out for distributing leaflets at the Human Rights Campaign gala dinner July 26.

Cusic said she bought a $125 ticket for the event, held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, with the intent of passing out pamphlets decrying the Human Rights Campaign for not advocating the inclusion of transgender individuals under a recently passed human-rights bill.

During a multimedia show at the event, Cusic said she began to place the leaflets on the dinner tables, but security officials accosted her and demanded she leave. Cusic put another leaflet on a table and the guards yanked her arm behind her back, forcing her to scream out in pain, she said.

“I was in shock,” Cusic said, adding that she told the guards she would leave voluntarily. “They were pretty brutal physically, but the psychological effect of seeing 750 people sit and watch me get dragged out was pretty humiliating.”

Cusic said she filed a police report the following day, claiming an assault charge. One week later, she went to her physician, who said her arm was fractured.

Officials from the Human Rights Campaign released a statement on the event, saying it was the organization’s policy to remove guests who create a disturbance. The statement also said that Cusic’s version of the events differed from that of many spectators.

“Cusic stood up, walked from her to table to the front of the ballroom while the event was in progress and began yelling and disrupting guests,” the statement said. “After she refused to follow instruction, she was escorted from the room and continued yelling all the way to the hotel exit.”

Officials from the San Francisco Police Department said they are investigating Cusic’s assault claim.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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