Mirkarimi Reinstated - A Sad Day and A Step Backward

Reaction by a domestic violence prevention advocate to the reinstatement of Ross Mirkarimi as San Francisco Sheriff.

It is a very sad day when a man convicted of domestic battery is allowed to return to office as sheriff. Ross Mirkarimi’s reinstatement has a chilling effect on the domestic violence movement as a whole, and specifically on victim’s/survivors willingness to report the crime.

The message that Mirkarimi’s statement gives is that what he did was “not so bad”.  The message communicates some types of domestic violence, although illegal, are tolerable and can be put aside. The message is that if you are politically connected and financially well off, you are above the law. The message for youth and children is that power and success allows you special privileges,
even if you are caught.

Despite his guilty plea to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge stemming from a New Year's Eve dispute with his actress wife, Ross Mirkarimi gets to keep his job. 

Four of the 11-member Board of Supervisors voted late Tuesday against upholding official misconduct charges against Sheriff Mirkarimi. A minimum of nine votes were needed to oust him.

Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years of probation and fined. He is undergoing
court-ordered counseling and parenting classes.

In August, the commission voted 4-1 that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct, setting the stage for the supervisors' long-awaited vote. Before the vote, Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser said Mirkarimi committed an act of domestic violence that should not be ignored.

"It wasn't a mistake on Dec. 31. It was a crime, a very serious crime," Kaiser said.

Mirkarimi acknowledged bruising his wife's arm with an “overly firm grip” His wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, turned to a neighbor, Ivory Madison, who
later contacted police. Authorities eventually confiscated video Madison had
taken, along with text messages and emails between the two women. The video
shows Lopez tearfully pointing to a bruise on her right bicep, where she said
Mirkarimi had grabbed her.

When Mirkarimi appeared at his Jan. 8swearing-in ceremony with his wife and son, he called the incident a "private matter, a family matter", echoing the sentiment of many current batterers and that of a community from more than forty years ago.

The times have changed and so have the laws… for the better.  Ross Mirkarimi’s
reinstatement reflects a step back in time and a rollback of laws to protect
the most vulnerable.

Keeping the Promise: Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and Holding Batterers Accountable was a study released in 2005 by then Attorney
General, Bill Lockyer. The study stated Domestic violence victims who receive support services are more likely to be and feel safe, and thus more likely to cooperate with prosecutors. A majority of the prosecutors’ offices in the core counties, however, do not work with community-based victim advocates and agencies that provide such services, preferring instead to work only with their own victim advocates.”

This need for cooperation between victims advocates and law enforcement is especially relevant the sheriff’s department in San Francisco. The current rift is too large and without genuine acknowledgement of the act that he committed, Mirkarimi will not be able to mend the tear between the sheriff’s department and the domestic violence prevention community.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Craig Steckler October 10, 2012 at 11:51 PM
As a Police Chief and a member of the Board of Directors of SAVE which is our local DV shelter in Fremont I am appalled at the lack of sensitivity of those that voted to retain him as Sheriff. As law enforcement professionals we are held to a higher standard and should be. How is he going to discipline any deputy that might commit a similar act?
Carrie Blake October 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I am a survivor of domestic violence. The ability to escape from a dangerous relationship is scary enough as it is; but to look to law enforcement who, in this case, has been found guilty of the very same thing that any given DV victim is trying to escape from, creates a reaction of desperation and regression rather than freedom from fear. Instead of feeling supported and validated in leaving the perpetrator and seeking safety, one is instead filled with a greater fear of being exposed to further assault once you've reached out for help and not been defended and protected.
Brandon Sass October 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM
If he had been applying for the Sheriff's position and the results of a background check showed a conviction for domestic violence, would any department hire him as chief? Just Saying.
Nick October 12, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Whenever you have a supervisor/council voting, it is highly political. Members use selfish, personal motives, and party motives (2 votes). I think it was KTVU or KPIX that ran a projection of votes from the council that night. They bunched a group of photos voting for his ouster and had I believe 4 pictures in support of the Deputy. 2 were of the same progressive party as Mirkarimi. The other 2 projected council members voting in support were due for election, those 2 were also appointed by Mayor Lee. Their minds were clouded with other issues, not the issue at hand. Unfortunately that's how things are determined today. Newark's election couple year's back for council, was also clouded when I think police and fire lended their support to one candidate. Whenever public safety mixes with politics, I cringe because public safety should not be in that arena, it creates too many questions and gray areas going forward. I find his defense laughable, not being in office, come on, you were enraged and could not contain your emotions. He even had the audacity to comment to a reporter that he has no income and is desolate.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »