Not your typical board meeting drama

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By Rebecca Bowe

Yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was thrown into disorder when a woman began shrieking, “Get away from me!” She was yelling at Sheriff Deputy Thompson as he forcibly led her to the door of the Board Chambers, gripping her by the arm.

An angry showdown manifested in the corridor just outside the doors when a group began shouting chants in protest of the officer’s move.

The woman, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, is a principal at Mission-based preschool Companeros del Barrio, she later told reporters. She and other preschool staffers had attended the meeting with a group of kids, ages 3 to 5, to deliver handmade cardboard messages to Sup. David Campos opposing the Muni layoffs, since some of the kids' parents will be affected. She told reporters that once she realized they were short on time and wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole public comment session, she was scrambling to get the signs completed and hand-delivered to the supervisor.

Exactly what took place next will come under close scrutiny in the course of an investigation, but it’s clear is that the situation escalated to the point where the entire meeting was disrupted, Gutierrez wound up with a mark where her arm was twisted, and the kids were frightened. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened at a Supervisors meeting -- last July, Fog City Journal blogger Luke Thomas was also forcibly ejected from a meeting by Deputy Thompson after being told he was getting too close while photographing an event.

According to a sheriff’s incident report containing a narrative from Sheriff Deputy Saenz, who was also on duty, the trouble started because Gutierrez, her adult son, and two of the kids were blocking the center aisle when they were working on the signs. They did not respond to requests made in English and Spanish to return to their seats, the report notes.