Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi flap spurs San Francisco violence outreach campaign

AP File Photo“No matter what their motivation is

Two months have passed since four supervisors controversially voted against permanently ousting suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, but the Mayor’s Office and other opponents are keeping the heat on the lawman and the domestic violence issue that he broached.

Embroiled in court proceedings and city hearings for nearly a year after he bruised his wife’s arm on New Year’s Eve, Mirkarimi was suspended without pay in spring by Mayor Ed Lee. But months later, the mayor did not end up getting the nine votes he needed on the Board of Supervisors to permanently remove the sheriff.

Recent talk of a public recall election has appeared to fizzle, and the scandal is now being used as a launching pad for more domestic violence funding and an online campaign demanding that Mirkarimi resign — an effort with the stated intent of avoiding the $3 million expense of a recall.

Citing a rise in domestic violence crimes that actually predates the Mirkarimi scandal, Lee announced a new publicly funded holiday ad campaign called “Peace at Home” to connect victims with services. The ads will be seen on leaflets and on Muni buses and shelters.

Lee cited a rise in reported crimes and the caseload handled by the District Attorney’s Office, plus well-documented statistics showing violence in the home rises during the holidays.

“We’re not going to be political about it,” Lee said to a group of victim advocates in his office Thursday. He added that The City would make “demonstrable” progress on bringing down the number of crimes.

Asked why no Sheriff’s Department personnel were present at a news conference aimed at combating crime, Lee said “they’re not part of this piece of legislation.” Supervisor David Chiu, who spoke alongside Lee on Thursday, has proposed what he described as an overwhelmingly supported $750,000 supplemental appropriation to fund more investigators, services and $50,000 in outreach campaign dollars for domestic violence.

Lee’s comments were followed by others from victim advocates, who said the last year has produced many “misconceptions” about domestic violence, which should never be considered a “private family matter” — as Mirkarimi referred to it during the outset of the public scrutiny.

As of Wednesday, www.RossResign.org had received about 1 percent — or 500 — votes in support. On Thursday, the percentage appeared higher from the looks of a bar graphic, but a specific number was conspicuously absent
from the site. The site includes instructions on how to spread disfavor for Mirkarimi via social media outlets.

Meanwhile, Mirkarimi would not address the barbs aimed at him, but said The City does indeed need to address the rise in violence.

“No matter what their motivation is, The City needs to improve its response to domestic violence, especially toward immigrant communities, and developing effective restorative justice programs,” the sheriff said.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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