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 Police Department and GLIDE, which provides social services to the homeless and others.
A 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.”
It marked the 53rd anniversary of rioting in 1966 at Compton’s Cafeteria in the Tenderloin district after police were called to evict transgender people — many of them sex workers — who gathered there and tried to arrest a transgender woman.
The 1966 confrontation preceded by three years New York’s famous Stonewall Riots, which were considered a landmark in LGBTQ civil rights activism.
Historically, police were known for beating gay men in the Castro district and for arresting transgender women for wearing dresses.
“I and the men and women of this police department are truly sorry,” Scott told an 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. About 40 people interrupted the parade for about an hour and two people were arrested after protesters broke down barricades, threw water bottles at police and at least one person fought with officers, authorities said.
On Monday night, some people submitted comments asking 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 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.”