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San Francisco Police Chief Apologizes to LGBTQ Community for 'Harm That Was Caused'

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San Francisco police chief Bill Scott at a news conference.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

San Francisco’s police chief apologized Monday for the way the department historically treated LGBTQ people and for “the harm that was caused.”

“Unless the wrongs of the past are acknowledged and dealt with appropriately, our past will continue to put a stain on the present and on our future,” Chief William Scott said during a “Reflection and Reconciliation Session” aimed at increasing trust between the LGBTQ community and police.

The forum was hosted by the San Francisco Police Department and GLIDE Memorial Church, which also provides a number of social services and programs.

A police department release said input from the forum and other planned “listening sessions” will move the department “forward in ways that emphasize respect, safety and diversity.”

The event also marked the 53rd anniversary of the riot at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin when police tried to arrest a transgender woman and were met with resistance by a community tired of harassment. The 1966 confrontation was three years before New York’s famous Stonewall riots.

Historically, police were also known for beating gay men in the Castro district and arresting transgender women simply for wearing dresses.

“I and the men and women of this police department are truly sorry,” Scott told the audience at the GLIDE Memorial Church. “We are sorry for what happened. We are sorry for our role in it. And we are sorry for the harm that it caused.”

Scott agreed to meet with LGBTQ community members after a Pride Parade march in July was disrupted by protesters opposed to a police and corporate presence. According to authorities, about 40 people interrupted the parade for around an hour and two people were arrested after protesters broke down barricades and threw water bottles at police.

On Monday night, some people at the session asked whether the police department would agree not to have uniformed officers march in the Pride Parade.

But Cmdr. Teresa Ewins, a lesbian, said it was important “for kids to see us,” to show the LGBTQ presence in the department, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

“Many of us joined to make a difference,” she said. “It’s a special day for me as well as everyone in the department who is LGBT.”

Some speakers also said more work needs to be done to reconcile police and the LGBTQ community.

Anubis Daugherty, 25, said he was homeless for six years and police sweeps of homeless communities disproportionately affected LGBTQ people who are a significant portion of homeless and impoverished people in the Tenderloin, the Examiner reported.

“I was born here, I was raised here,” Daugherty said. “If you want to truly apologize for something you have to stop what you’re doing.”


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