Ross Mirkarimi reinstated as sheriff of San Francisco

Supporters, critics plead case in public comments

For five hours Tuesday, supporters of Ross Mirkarimi called on the Board of Supervisors to reinstate him as the elected sheriff and overturn Mayor Ed Lee’s attempt to oust Mirkarimi for a New Year’s Eve domestic violence incident.

Tears, passionate pleas, biblical references, accusations of political witch hunts and claims the punishment didn’t fit the crime colored the public comments supporting Mirkarimi. A chant of “Reinstate Ross” erupted from about 30 supporters toward the end of public comment, which began at 4:23 p.m. and stretched to 9:30 p.m.

Mirkarimi supporters numbered more than 120, while those favoring his removal were about 15.

Former Mayor Art Agnos, Mirkarimi’s most prominent supporter, said his removal would set a dangerous precedent with executive powers.

“As a former mayor, I know extraordinary power,” Agnos said. “During the Loma Prieta earthquake, I used the state of emergency to close neighborhoods, hold people without charges, put the army on the streets of our city.

But I never had this kind of power — and no one should.”

Domestic violence prevention advocates called for Mirkarimi’s ouster, further aggravating the rift between them and their frequent allies on the left.  

“We are not the enemy,” said Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, addressing Mirkarimi’s politically progressive supporters. “George Gascón is not the enemy. Ed Lee is not even the enemy. And you are not the enemy. These wounds are self-inflicted. Committing domestic violence is a crime. Committing domestic violence is not a progressive issue.”

Katharine Berg, associate director of La Casa de las Madres, another such organization, said reinstating Mirkarimi would “send a frightening message to survivors of violence and an empowering one to perpetrators across The City.”

But others called Mirkarimi a model candidate for restorative justice.

“As a domestic violence survivor, it is not easy for me to stand here and say I believe in redemption,” said Gabriel Haaland, political director of SEIU Local 1021. “It is not easy for me to stand here and say I believe in restorative justice. It would be easier for me to say I believe in punishment. But that is the very culture we are trying to change. There is no greater model. The man has stood there and said, ‘I have made a serious mistake and I am ready to make a difference.’”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

The Board of Supervisors was asked whether to uphold charges of official misconduct against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi related to a New Year’s Eve domestic violence incident with his wife.

Supervisor Vote
Eric Mar, District 1 Oust
Mark Farrell, District 2 Oust
David Chiu, District 3 Oust
Carmen Chu, District 4 Oust
Christina Olague, District 5 Retain
Jane Kim, District 6 Retain
Sean Elsbernd, District 7 Oust
Scott Wiener, District 8 Oust
David Campos, District 9 Retain
Malia Cohen, District 10 Oust
John Avalos, District 11 Retain

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