Flowers were left outside the Fillmore Heritage Center on Monday, March 25, 2019 after a deadly shooting. (Victor Tence / Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Comedy event to go forward at Fillmore Center despite security concerns

All other events canceled through April after deadly shooting as city debates extending lease

A Comedy Night scheduled at the Fillmore Heritage Center for Saturday evening will take place as planned, despite concerns over the center’s security following a nearby shooting last weekend that prompted The City to suspend the center’s programming indefinitely.

The District Attorney’s Office has said that the deadly shootout that killed one person and injured five others last Saturday started with a confrontation at the center for a storied San Francisco pimp and businessman. City leaders have faulted the nonprofits in charge of its operation for failing to inform police officials about the event.

On Tuesday, District 8 Supervisor Vallie Brown requested a security plan from the Fillmore Heritage Center Equity Partners — a coalition comprised of the New Community Leadership Foundation, Hard Hitta Promotions and The San Francisco Housing Development Corporation — prior to any future events held there.

Due to a “community outpouring for some level of activation at the center,” The City and public safety experts have been working with the coalition over the past week and following a “security review,” determined that a comedy night scheduled for March 30 “could move forward,” said Office of Economic and Workforce Development Director Joaquin Torres on Friday.

“The City believes that silence was not the appropriate response to violence,” said Torres.

Built in 2007 with city funds and a $5.5 million HUD loan, the $80.5 million center was intended to play a key role in the revitalization of the Fillmore Street corridor. However the building sat vacant for several years after a nightclub and restaurant there failed, and was only reopened last fall.

Torres said that two other events scheduled this weekend have been cancelled, and that the coalition, which is operating the center on a temporary lease that will expire on April 9, will be “regrouping to think about their deeper work if they want the activation to be successful.”

The City’s Department of Real Estate will be deciding whether or not the nonprofits’ lease should be extended. Brown said on Tuesday that conversations about the center’s future leadership had been put on hold after the shooting.

In a statement issued on Friday, the coalition promised to donate $5 from each ticket sale “towards street violence intervention programs” in an effort to “demonstrate the healing power of comedy.”

The coalition said that following the March 30 show, it would cease “all events for the month of April as we seek to pause and thoughtfully consider all aspects of the activation.”

“During this period, we will be in discussion with The City about how the Fillmore Heritage Center can continue to best serve the community into the future,” said the coalition.

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