Guardian Op-Ed: Domestic violence, a Latina feminist perspective

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By Myrna Melgar

Myrna Melgar is a Latina survivor of childhood domestic violence, a feminist, and the mother of three girls. She is a former legislative aide to Sup. Eric Mar.

Eliana Lopez is my friend. I have asked for her permission to put into words, in English, some observations, thoughts and insights reached during our many conversations these past few weeks about her experience with San Francisco's response to the allegation of domestic violence by her husband, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. We hope this will lead to a teachable moment for law enforcement and anti-domestic-violence advocates about cultural sensitivity — and will lead to honest discussions about the meaning of empowerment of women.

We hope that Eliana's experience, and our shared perspective, will prompt some analysis among feminists, advocates, and the progressive community in general about the impact of the criminalization of low-level, first offenses of domestic violence on this one immigrant woman — and the implications for all immigrant women and other women of color.

Eliana Lopez came to San Francisco from Venezuela with hope in her head and love in her heart. She decided to leave behind her beautiful city of Caracas, a successful career as an actress, and her family and friends, following the dream of creating a family and a life with a man she had fallen in love with but barely knew, Ross Mirkarimi.

Well-educated, progressive, charismatic, and artistic, she made friends easily. She and Ross seemed like a great match. Both were committed environmentalists, articulate and successful. They had a son, Theo. As they settled into domestic life, however, problems began to surface. The notoriously workaholic politician did not find his family role an easy fit. A bachelor into his late forties, Ross had trouble with the quiet demands of playing a puzzle on the floor with his toddler or having an agenda-less breakfast with his wife. Ross would not make time for Eliana's request for marriage counseling, blaming the demands of job and campaign.

On December 31, figuring that the election campaign was over and Ross would have a little breathing room, Eliana broached the subject of traveling to Venezuela with Theo. Ross's emotional reaction to her request led to the argument that has now been repeatedly documented in the press — and for which he was eventually charged.

According to Eliana, the context of what happened between them on December 31 actually started much earlier. Ross grew up as the only son of a single teenage mother of Russian Jewish descent and an absent Iranian immigrant father. Pressured by the opposition of her family to her relationship with an Iranian Muslim, Ross's mother divorced his father by the time he was five. Ross was raised on a small, nearly all-white island in New England, with no connection to his father. When he had the opportunity, Ross traveled to Chicago, where his father had remarried and built a new family with two sons. Ross's father turned him away. In Eliana's analysis, Ross's greatest fear is that his painful story with his father will be replayed again with Theo.

Eliana's version of what happened next has never wavered. She went to her neighbor Ivory Madison, as opposed to anyone else, because she thought Ivory was a lawyer and could advise her if her troubles with her husband resulted in divorce. Documenting Ross's reaction to her request to take Theo abroad would be ammunition — targeting his greatest fear. Making the video was Madison's idea, and Eliana agreed to it, thinking that it would be useful to her if a custody dispute ensued. But in Eliana's mind, the video was her property, her story.

Eliana insisted that Ivory did not have her permission to share the video or the story with anyone, that she was not in any danger, and that she was working on her marriage with Ross. Unbeknownst to Eliana, by the time Ivory called the police, she had already shared the story with Phil Bronstein, then the editor at large of Hearst Newspapers, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Let's stop for a moment to consider the question of the empowerment of women. The disempowerment of Eliana began on a very small level when her husband grabbed her by the arm during an argument. It was exponentially magnified by the neighbor in whom she confided, who decided that Eliana's strongly held desire to handle her problems with her husband herself was inconsequential. The disempowerment of Eliana was then magnified again and again, by the police, the press, the district attorney, and finally even anti-domestic-violence advocates.

How did it come to be that a system that was intended to empower women has evolved into a system that disempowers them so completely?

Unquestionably, there are women in deeply abusive relationships who need assistance getting out, who may not be able to initiate an escape on their own. Eliana's relationship with Ross did not even come close to that standard. Yet in the eyes of Ivory Madison, Phil Bronstein, District Attorney George Gascon, and even the Director of La Casa de las Madres, once her husband had grabbed her arm, Eliana was simply no longer competent and her wishes were irrelevant.

In other words, an action done by a man, over which a woman has no control whatsoever, renders the woman incompetent and irrelevant, and empowers a long list of people — most of whom are male — to make decisions on this woman's behalf, against her consistent and fervently expressed wishes. No one in the entire chain of people who made decisions on Eliana's behalf offered her any help — besides prosecuting her husband.

Eliana was only consulted by the district attorney in the context of seeking her cooperation in relation to the criminal charges against her husband. Eliana never gave her input or assessment in the situation, was never consulted about the plea agreement.

Now the disempowerment of Eliana has taken an even more sinister twist. In an opinion piece published in the Chronicle, Ivory Madison's husband, Abraham Mertens, charged Eliana with intimidation for allegedly pressuring his wife and himself to destroy the video that Ivory conceived and recorded of Eliana's moment of distress. The same day, Mayor Ed Lee announced that he was suspending Ross as sheriff, and the charges, as written up by the City Attorney, included the Mertens accusation. This had the effect of silencing and disempowering Eliana — but this time, she is being threatened with criminal prosecution. The victim has somehow become the criminal.

Mertens, the mayor, the D.A., the city attorney, and the newspaper editor are all men. All men acting on behalf of a very educated and articulate woman who has repeatedly, passionately, asked them to give her her voice back. And for that they are threatening to criminally prosecute her.

Kathy Black, the director of La Casa de las Madres, called Eliana twice. At the same time, Black and other domestic violence advocates were calling on Ross to step down, raising money to put up billboards, and mobilizing for the anti-Ross campaign, trying him in the press. Seeing all this, Eliana never trusted Black's motives and never took the call. Had Eliana thought assistance would be available her and to Ross without a threat to her family and livelihood, this all would have been a very different story.

During Ross's initial preliminary hearing, Eliana Lopez famously told judge Susan Breall "this idea that I am this poor little immigrant is insulting, it's a little racist." And yet, what middle class, successful, educated Eliana was exposed to is exactly what we as a city have forced victims of domestic violence to face by our emphasis on criminal prosecution.

In San Francisco, we concentrate on saving victims from domestic violence situations. Our efforts in communities of color, immigrant communities, and teens is geared to make sure that victims get away from their abusers.

It's inarguable that women in dangerous situations need to be provided options to get out. But concentrating on these alone — rather than on the array of options that are needed in less severe cases — is the equivalent of treating disease at the emergency room. In fact, this approach undermines prevention efforts because it puts women in the position of choosing between seeking help through counseling and therapy to modify the behavior of their partners — or exposing them to criminal prosecution. It has the unfortunate outcome of disempowering women, particularly low-income immigrant women and women of color, whose economic realities, position in society, and relationship to law enforcement both real and perceived is very different than for white middle-class women.

It's not hard to see that, for immigrant women and women of color, exposure to law enforcement is perceived as dangerous. Many immigrants fear law enforcement based on their experiences with repressive regimes in their own countries. In the past couple of years, the mandatory referral to federal immigration authorities has created panic and fear of police in immigrant communities across America. Immigrant women, already on the edge economically, face the real threat of the loss of their partner's income if the partner is accused of a crime and the boss finds out. Many black women understandably doubt the criminal justice system's capacity to treat black men charged with any crime.

So here is the challenge to domestic violence advocates and progressive folks who care about women: A more progressive approach to Eliana and Ross's particular situation, and to domestic violence in general, would be to work on emphasizing early, non-law enforcement intervention and the prevention of violence against women in addition to the necessary work of extricating women from dangerous situations.

Professor Laureen Snider at Queens University in Ontario has argued that criminalization is a flawed strategy for dealing with violence against women. Snider argues that feminists and progressives have misidentified social control with police/governmental control. In other words, we are substituting one oppressor for another — and glossing over the fact that in the judicial system, poor people of color fare worse than white middle-class people. We have punted on the hard work education, and of shaping and reshaping men's definitions of masculinity and violence, of the social acceptance of the subjugation of women, of violence against children. We have chosen to define success in the fight against domestic violence by women saved from horrible situations and incarceration rates for their abusers — rather than doing the difficult work of community and individual change necessary to prevent violence from happening in the first place.

Putting up billboards in Spanish telling women that domestic violence is never a private matter might make people feel like they are doing something useful, but it will do nothing to help Eliana, and it will do very little to prevent domestic violence against women in the Spanish-speaking community.

My own experience with the community's response to domestic violence was very different from Eliana's. My father was physically abusive. The most violent period of my life was during high school in the 1980's, shortly after we had immigrated to the United States from war-torn El Salvador. Our economic realities and shaky legal situation placed a level of stress on our family that made violence an almost daily occurrence.

I ran away from home, and eventually got connected with the services offered through the Redwood City YMCA. We entered family counseling, and the intervention was successful — my father was able to stop his violent behavior and our family survived. Had the police intervened, my father would have likely been charged, very possibly deported, and the whole family would have been sent back to El Salvador — back to the civil war.

In the case of my family, in which violence was a severe, everyday occurrence, there was a successful intervention. In Eliana's case, which was limited to her husband too forcefully grabbing her arm, the family was destroyed and it will take years before the victim and her child will be able to (maybe) put their lives back together.

I challenge the progressive community and anti-violence advocates to reexamine this criminalization-heavy approach and its impact on my friend Eliana's family, but also to examine how it affects all victims of domestic violence in San Francisco, particularly women in immigrant communities and women of color who rightfully have a distrustful relationship with law enforcement. Although it might make some feel better, all of this energy and effort spent demanding Ross Mirkarimi's resignation only serves to reinforce the dominant model of criminalization — to make an example out of him. It won't help Eliana, and it won't help people suffering from violence in their intimate relationships.

Myrna Melgar is Latina survivor of childhood domestic violence, a feminist, and a mother of three girls. She is a former legislative aide to Sup. Eric Mar.

 

Comments

Not so fast~ The writer makes only passing mention of the actual incident between Ross and his wife. The larger issue is the cookie-cutter application of dv laws where criminalization is held out as the only option for women. As well as the need to look at how women of color are disempowered by the criminal justice system. It's about being victimized twice over.

Try to speak to the issue at hand instead of coming at it with your own agenda, hombre (I assume you are a man). This has been the problem all along. No one cared what Eliana thought, felt, or had to say about the matter, much less what she needed in way of support. It's about giving these women their voice and their power back.

Posted by lp on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

would have got different treatment than the wife of Boss Ross in this case?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

I know that a "machine" sheriff would have gotten different treatment in the pages of the Bay Guardian, at any rate.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

when it is a progressive suffering the effects of the laws that we have been for this whole time.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

Yes, she might have an opinion on the matter, but she is a hysterical woman -- and we all know how women get. Irrational and weak. The fairer sex. Heck, sometimes they need to be protected from themselves! The state clearly should step in, put the child in a foster home and give Eliana a fresh start. She will thank San Francisco later.

Posted by Marc on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 6:35 am

I agree with you and everyone who's had it with the sanctimonious lot in city hall . The same people who gamed the system to get bureaucratic yes man Ed Lee elected mayor are now trying to destroy Ross Mirkirimi as progressives
We must stand by him. ,the truth will set him free, but he needs our help.

Posted by Guest. A Chelnick on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

Wow such a great arcticle, and so true. Obviously Ms. Madison felt no sense of urgency , if she was busy dialing Phil Bronstein instead of “helping” Eliana . As per Ross & Eliana’s drama--there never should have been any charges, therefore no removal attempts.

Posted by Guest -- Cal on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

They should have gotten to know each other before they had a baby. He is the only one I feel sorry for.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

Thank you Myrna, Thank you Eliana!

Rick Hauptman

Posted by ricksf1 on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

Thank you Myrna. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Also, I am a survivor of REAL domestic violence in the 60's.

If this DA and SF in general REALLY cared about Domestic Violence, they would prosecute EVERY case. If this were anyone else, it would have been dropped when the police arrived at the door. Anyone who cannot see that this is political is blind.

And the hate towards Ross! Where do these people come from, and what are their motivations? Such hateful things to say from those who don't even know anything, just jump on the hate wagon. I am especially disheartened to see former progressive allies turning their backs on Ross now because "He yelled at me or someone I know."

How Ed Lee, with all the problems during his election about a kiosk set up with a template that only allowed folks to join the arrow for Ed Lee for mayor, how this man can send Ross' case to the Ethics(?) Commission, but leave the organization that put up the kiosk alone?

Why did nothing ever happen to Joanna Hayes White for hitting her husband in the head with a glass after a 911 call by him saying he feared for himself and his children?

Oh wait, that was Gavin Newsom's reign, Gavin who saw nothing wrong with screwing his best friend's wife, and inside City Hall yet.

People must be laughing at San Francisco these days, with its "selective" ethics.

Posted by Terrrie Frye on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

As Ross' supporters always do - that this case is REALLY about Joanna Hayes-White and Gavin Newsom. They're the ones who should be on trial - subject to a verdict of the people!!

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

I wonder why it took so long for the Guardian to find a "voice of color" who was willing to write a pro mirkarimi editorial...

Posted by greg on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

Ross was right. This has been a political railroading where conservatives have cynically used feminism to paralyze progressives while devaluing the currency of feminism and nearly destroying a family in the process.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

It's all about the 1% trying to railroad our progressive sheriff and his poor Latina wife. We must not allow them to succeed!

We must rally our fellow progressives - Campos, Mar and Avalos - to defend Ross at the Board. Then we must fight the inevitable recall Ross will face - fight it in every district!

Ross for mayor in 2015!!

Posted by Troll II on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

The 1% are too damn cheap to pay for a recall.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

I agree. One bruise does not a batterer make.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

Does not make a batterer. But Ross IS a batterer, make no mistake about that. A verbal batterer. Just ask his former staffers, his campaign workers, and his volunteers. He is horrific. I feel for his family -- and I want him to beat his problem and even think he should be given a chance and get his job as sheriff back. But make no mistake, he is absolutely awful.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

That stupid comment has nothing to do with the matter at hand. What's a verbal batterer, anyway? Stop with the psycho-mumbo-jumbo.
"He is horrific?" No, Hitler was horrific. You post here under the guise that you "want Ross to beat his problem" etc. But who the hell are you? You really used the forum to slam Ross, cast more aspersions on his character, malign him. Go back to reading the Chronicle or the Examiner, "Guest," where your views are more than amply rewarded by the 'journalism" there. Now, that is "horrific."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

Prove he's only had one incident of violence against women. We already know he does like to be rough. He's a flat out creep. How many of you posters either are being paid by Ross or as as brain dead as the proggies at the guardie who can never admit they were wrong? So they got fooled by a conman. Happens to a lot of us! But this article ... well, all I can say, is may all the women who posted never ever report any violence, and if you are attacked, make sure no one else protects you. Wouldn't want to silence anyone into hushing up a crime! Better yet, repeal all the DV laws and make it legal for any spouse to kill the partner for any reason. Why not? How do you know the women don't want to be raped and tortured and then offed by hubby? Heck, we all know Jaycee Duggar stayed because she liked it there, right?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

Mirkarimi's long-time girlfriend, who by all accounts has a ton of integrity, and was, by God, the San Francisco reporter for the New York Times and the Washington Post, has had that not once in eight or so years did Mirkarmi ever lay a hand on her or come close. She said he hated to fight and used to give in just to stop an argument. That's good enough for me. What proof do YOU have, poster?

JayceeDuggar? What does that have to do with a couple having one of those end-of-the-world fights that Ross and Eliana had over their son?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

The interview on KGO at www.kgoradio.com with Evelyn Nieves. She is the former Associated Press San Francisco bureau chief and New York Times writer who was with Mr. Mirkarimi for eight years. Just go to the radio archives and find the hour ..midnight sat night..actually sunday morning ..midnight until 1 am...it'll be available only for a couple more days.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 29, 2012 @ 7:13 am

Come on, Eliana's an educated woman who wants to have her cake and eat it too ... by which I mean that she wants insurance against the husband and keep him at a safe distance as well as reap the rewards from her marriage with him (i.e.obtain citizenship ... if she's been married less than 2 or 3 years, she doesn't get it if they go bye-bye).

Unfortunately, she used the wrong weapon (DV) to do so. And it back fired on her.

Now, the whole world is being mean to her. Yup. Got that!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

You have it all figured out, don't you? There's just one problem. Eliana had a good career in her native Venezuela. She had no desire to come to this country until she met Ross. I know this must be shocking news to American Exceptionalists everywhere, but not everyone wants your damn Yankee citizenship.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

The person you are responding to has a theory as valid as any of that half witted non sense your side has come up with, and this loony George Wallace racialist rant by the author, so very weird.

Subjects of abuse need progressive law enforcement says our author, not the law enforcement that progressives actually lobbied for in the past that lead up to this. No wonder your posts are always so confused, trying to heel to the agenda at every turn.

So crazy.

Posted by Matlock on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 12:05 am

YES, yes, yes,

You have stated the Heart of this topic. These laws and procedures were put in place by the demands of the progressive agenda, (tho in my experience their agendas are not really progress rather just their stubborn beliefs, right or wrong) .

Looking back at some "progressive policies and laws" from the other side should give us all pause on how they affect people's lives and restrict life freedoms by giving too much authority over us to "The Government" which should be serving for everyone's greater good.

Crash and Burn Ross, you are reaping what you have sown.

Posted by Guest 51 on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

She can still go back and if we're lucky, take ross with her. But that's unlikely.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 6:28 am

Yeah, those crafty, scheming, plotting but not too smart Latina witches, can't manipulate others to work their will and can't possibly speak for themselves!

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

It's not as though Eliana has been silent through any of this.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

Thank you for your intelligent, down-to-earth perspective and recounting of the story. I've been saddened to see how so many jump to conclusions and on the demonization bandwagon with not even the full story at their disposal. Maybe that is due to the instant-gratification culture we live in. But whatever it is, hopefully your article will start to reverse that trend.

I've also been struck at the "violence" inherent in this whole process of criminalization/removal from office by the "powers that be" of someone whose actions may need remedying—much in the same way that a depressed person needs help—but downgraded to a "criminal"? "Official Misconduct"? Come on. Dislike Ross, dislike his politics, but all this has reminded me of a modern-day Scarlet Letter. Surely, we can do better than this, and this article points the way.

The only passage in the article I question is this one:
"In Eliana's case, which was limited to her husband too forcefully grabbing her arm, the family was destroyed and it will take years before the victim and her child will be able to (maybe) put their lives back together."

This I don't understand. Granted, it seems like the marriage had problems. But if there is /was any love there, then I would imagine they can come back together and mend things, assuming things were mendable in the first place.
The notion strikes me too much as victimhood all over again (or over-dramatization), and I'm not buying it. There is such a thing as resiliency, but maybe the family involved didn't have much to begin with (I don't mean this as an insult either), notwithstanding this ordeal they've gone through. But I may be wrong, and I'd welcome more clarification if you want to give it. Unless you mean the family will be destroyed if "The Powers That Be" somehow get their way and have Ross Removed from Office. That's another story...
And perhaps there is trauma involved in the whole way this was handled for the family involved. I could understand that one as well.

Posted by Daniele E. on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

The prosecution of Ross had nothing to do with helping Eliana and had a really horrific impact on the so-called victim. The punishment for all involved -including the child - is laughably out of proportion to the offense. Your article is spot on and adds a much-needed perspective. Lasting impact of case may be the reluctance of future "real" victims to ask for help.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

Too bad her blackmail video turned out this way for Eliana.....

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

I thank Myrna for sharing her story -- and explaining the fear that immigrants have of the police when it comes to domestic violence. But I take exception to her minimizing what Eliana experienced as a "low-level, first offense of domestic violence."

At work, Ross Mirkarimi is a well-known arrogant hot head, liar, and prima donna -- very, very difficult. I can't imagine him being any fun at home, and I can imagine him being just as hard on Eliana as he is on his staff. Being around people like Ross Mirkarimi day after day, year after year, or in my case decade after decade, is its own kind of psychic abuse with terrible consequences.

I am of mixed feelings about whether Mirkarimi should be allowed to keep his position because he so awful, and I doubt that he has truly reformed himself since the start of this ordeal three months ago. He is only at the beginning of his journey.

But I believe in the democratic process and believe that he should be allowed to stay in office -- and be subjected to a recall by the people that is what they want.

To Eliana and especially Theo, my heart goes out to you. Neither of you deserved what you have gotten. Eliana, you deserve joy, and so does Theo.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

A victim is victimized for political gain. This is an insightful and well written report about the experiences of Eliana Lopez, wife of Ross Mirkarimi, throughout this entire sad incident – a highly emotional domestic argument that ultimately led to Ross being temporarily and possibly permanently removed from office and to immense duress being inflicted on his family. It is eye opening and informative. It is well worth a read.

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

Hi Daniele E.

Thanks for your comment - but remember that Eliana and Ross have not been allowed to see each other now for almost three months. The worst period of their lives, and they cannot talk, touch, hold each other or most importantly, work things out. They have exhausted their savings. Now he's out of a job. They are threatening to take away his pension now - in which he's been vested for years, and the family's health insurance. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say it's going to take years for them to recover from this - either as a family or individually if that's how it goes.

Posted by Myrna on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

Hi Myrna,
Thanks for your response. I get it.
This whole thing reminds me of this quote:
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. 
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. 
In our response lies our growth and freedom." 
-- Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

It seems like the above was hijacked by others—perhaps well-meaning, in Madison's case—and then spiraled into what we've seen. And the expense involved? A bit much, on every level.

I really hope it all gets taken down a notch or two, or three...from hereon in.
And I want to send all involved—Eliana, Ross, and family—a big hug.
I do know on a mini-level what "going to court" can be like, and it is extremely nerve-wracking, to put it mildly. And in my case, it was only small claims court.
Yes, in my opinion this has all been overblown. Things definitely need to be addressed, but it's easy to see how things cascaded as they did. I'm hoping the Ethics Commission and the Board will set things right for all concerned.

Posted by Daniele E. on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 8:21 am

Myrna,
You don't get it. This is what happens when Conservatives or Progressives or anyone in between give away power which should belong to citiizens of our country or state or city to government authorities to step into our lives. Waaaaaah! you wanted this.

Posted by Guest 51 on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

Thank you Myrna for your beautiful honesty and putting into words the truth that many of us see. There are many people who need to be ashamed of themselves and it is not the Mirkarimi family.

Posted by Brian Basinger on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

Really? Someone who has pled guilty to false imprisonment of his wife and who bruised her arm has nothing to be ashamed of? Thinking Mirkarimi should keep his job is one thing but I'm completely stunned by people who don't understand that what he did was terrible and against the law - thus he should be ashamed.

Posted by Ryan C on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 11:02 am

That's not a crime but have a sense he is getting what he deserves.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

While I no longer like Ross as a person, I have stated several times on this board that I feel that he still could be capable of performing his duties as sheriff and that I would not be opposed to San Francisco giving him another chance (with the express stipulation that he complete all court-mandated anger management counseling and domestic violence education).

That said, I have a problem with some of the things you wrote in your article. While I appreciate your effort, Myrna, and I think you make some very good points, a few of your statements are what I consider to be borderline racist. Maybe I misunderstood you? Maybe you're exaggerating to amplify your point? Or, maybe you're just someone who can't help but see people in terms of skin color. Here are some of the statements I find troubling...

"We hope this will lead to a teachable moment for law enforcement and anti-domestic-violence advocates about cultural sensitivity..."

It doesn't matter where you come from, what language you speak, what color your skin happens to be, or what religion you practice - domestic violence is against the law here. The people of the United States, both native born and immigrants, have voted overwhelmingly in both the upholding of these laws, and in the decision as to the level at which violence towards a domestic partner or family member is to be deemed criminal. I don't have any control over how El Salvador handles, or doesn't handle, domestic violence. I wish that I did, but I don't. I DO, however, have a say in how San Francisco handles DV.

"…impact of the criminalization of low-level, first offenses of domestic violence on this one immigrant woman — and the implications for all immigrant women and other women of color."

"Had Eliana thought assistance would be available her and to Ross without a threat to her family and livelihood, this all would have been a very different story."

I seriously doubt anyone wants to deprive Eliana or her son a livable income. But we can't avoid prosecuting or punishing people who violate the law simply because their family might face economic hardship. I'm guessing there are quite a few guys in jail who committed strong-arm robbery because their family needed money. I'm totally for helping people overcome economic inequality, but giving people a pass when they commit violent crimes is NOT the solution. Besides, Ross has two degrees and is a very intelligent and ambitious man. I'm having a tough time imagining him not finding a decent job. It just won't be in politics.

"Ross was raised on a small, nearly all-white island in New England…"

And? What's your point? Are you saying that Mirkarimi's lack of cultural diversity in his childhood environs somehow contributed to his problems with anger management? I really don't think you need me to point out how ridiculous that sounds.

You've also accused Ivory Madison (a feminist), the district attorney (a Cuban), and the director of an anti-Domestic Violence organization (one named, La Casa de las Madres, no less) as being either misogynist or racist. Frankly, this stretches the limits of plausibility for me. Think what you want and do as you like, but if you are truly looking to convince people, and not simply preaching to the choir of Ross supporters (small as it is), then you might do well to knock off the divisive stereotyping.

Posted by RamRod on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

She couched her entire piece in racial terms and, for that matter, gender terms. Notice how all the establishment is white? Oh, how horrible. But wait, there's more, they're all men too.

Identity politics is such a cheap shot. Notice how Ross was careful to be fronted by a female lawyer? How cosy and reassuring, even if she was obviously a lesbian - oh wait, even more perfect - yet another "under-represented" group into the mix.

When oh when will liberals get off their card playing?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 5:58 am

That "small all-white island" is the State of Rhode Island. Does anybody fact check at SFBG?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Rhode Island: neither a road nor an island, discuss.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 8:51 am

"The small all-white island is Jamestown, R.I., next to Newport. so that smarmy poster was wrong.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

Racism and discrimination are two different words with different semantics. Discrimination means acting on preference rather than merit. Racism implies putting one race forth as superior or backing discrimination with state or economic power.

People come to the table with different life experiences and not everyone has the life experience of middle class white Americans who grew up in the last 20th century, not in the US and most certainly not globally. We are products of our experience and environment.

Gascón is as Latino as Fulgencio Batista was.

Ivory Madison is as feminist as Hillary Clinton, in that in order to save Afghan women from the evils of the Taliban, the US must blow up their villages with Predator Drones. Villagers should mass outside her home menacing pitchforks and torches until she apologizes for consorting with Phil Bronstein to destroy Ross and Eliana's family.

The fact that Ross is still enjoined from uniting with his family after he was exonerated from domestic violence crimes speaks volumes to the concerted effort by power in San Francisco to exert control. Power will destroy a family in order to save it, cynically using feminist inspired laws to both destroy families and will set the example to all future comers that you WILL be on bended knee for us as long as power wants before you DARE run for citywide office, those contracts are OUR property to dispose of as WE please.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 10:25 am

Yes, Gascón is way too white to be a REAL Latino. Ya gotta have a touch of the tarbrush or Indian blood to qualify.

He's what Marcos would call a "fake" Latino.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 11:12 am

The light ones look almost middle eastern.

The dark ones have more in common with blacks.

"Hispanic" really isn't a race at all. It's a hybrid of races - part white, black and indian.

When did we elevate "hispanic" to the level of a race?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 11:37 am

What a "racist," Batista was not white, he just hated the sick and poor just like Gascón.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 11:42 am

"...after he was exonerated from domestic violence crimes..."

False imprisonment OF HIS WIFE isn't a domestic violence crime? Hmm...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

have seen that the sentence was carefully made identical to that of a regular DV crime i.e. 3 years probation, 12 months of anger classes, a stayaway order and time served. That's standard.

And of course the "imprisonment" happened during the commission of an act of DV.

You're fooling nobody here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 4:07 pm