Protest San Francisco Pride Parade Removing Bradley Manning as Grand Marshall on May 7, 2013

IMG_3509_1After Bradley Manning was placed on the ballot and the “Electoral College” of San Francisco Pride approved him as a Grand Marshall for the 2013 Pride Parade with Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame to represent him at the Parade while Manning languishes in prison, the President of the Board of SF Pride announced that the organization couldn’t permit him to be a Grand Marshall for political reasons. Then, the Board issued a notice claiming that the reason Bradley Manning couldn’t be a Grand Marshall is that he isn’t a “local hero”. Past SF Pride Board President Joey Cain thinks it’s “bullshit” and so do I.

Some folks protested at the SF Pride offices once, then again when I could attend the SF Pride Board Meeting scheduled on May 7, 2013. We chanted “They say Court Martial, we say Grand Marshall” and “Shame, Shame, Shame on Pride”. They only let a few people into the meeting and banned cameras. I heard afterwards that they eventually ended up cancelling the meeting.

Links: Videos    Photos    Liz Highleyman’s Photos    Starchild’s Report    Steven Thrasher Article    Michael Petrelis Article    ABC 7 Report    KTVU Channel 2    Huffington Post    SFist    KQED    Guardian


Thanks to Peter Menchini for the first video below:

And here is a video from Peter Menchini of the prior protest that I couldn’t attend:


Harvey Milk and the Candidacy of the LGBT Movement

by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee

May 22 marks what would have been former San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk’s 78th birthday.

Milk has been widely referred to as a martyr for the LGBT movement, but it is not his death that first launched Harvey into the public’s eye.

Milk’s election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 was an historic moment. His win came after two unsuccessful bids in 1973 and 1975.

In 1977, when voting for San Francisco City Supervisors transitioned from city-wide elections to district elections, Milk managed to win a seat on the Board and in so doing became the first openly gay elected official of any major U.S. city.

When Milk addressed a crowd of supporters after his victory, he noted the significance of his election for the LGBT community, “This is not my victory — it’s yours. If a gay man can win, it proves that there is hope for all minorities who are willing to fight.”

As a supervisor, Milk rallied the city council in 1978 to pass the city’s landmark Gay Rights Ordinance, which barred employers from firing employees because of their sexuality.

Milk’s fellow supervisor Dan White resigned from the Board in opposition to Milk’s bill.

White would later return to City Hall and shoot then-Mayor George Moscone and Milk, killing them both.

White was arrested and tried in a trial that would make famous the “Twinkie defense” (which formed part of White’s diminished capacity defense). When White’s 7-year prison sentence for manslaughter was announced, the San Francisco LGBT community was outraged. Many in the community saw the sentence as excessively lenient for the dual assassinations.

On May 21, 1979, members of the San Francisco LGBT community gathered in San Francisco’s Civic Center to protest the verdict and the White Night Riots broke out, chanting, “We want justice!,” and “Remember Harvey Milk!.” Protestors outrage spilled over into property destruction. Twelve police cruisers were burned and windows were smashed.

To those who lived through those years, Harvey Milk’s life and times are fairly well-known, but youth face significant hurdles to receiving LGBT history in the present education system.

Help spread the word about this history. Just copy and past this blog entry into your bulletin or blog.

U.S. #1 in Prisons With More People in Prison Than Any Other Country

How wonderful that the United States has hit a new milestone of more than one out of every one hundred citizens now in prison at a cost of more than $44 billion a year and increasing at six times the rate of higher education spending! No doubt there is some profit to be made, yes? ;-)

U.S. incarcerates more than any other nation: report

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world and for the first time in the nation’s history, more than one in every 100 American adults is confined in a prison or jail, according to a report released on Thursday.

The report by the Pew Center on the States said the American penal system held more than 2.3 million adults at the start of the year.

The far more populous nation of China ranked second with 1.5 million behind bars, with Russia a distant third with 890,000 inmates.

“Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran,” according to the report.

Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, criminal justice experts say.

The latest report tracked similar findings on the U.S. prison population by the Justice Department and various private groups. A report in November by a criminal justice research group found the number of people in U.S. prison had risen eight-fold since 1970.

The new report said that the national prison population has nearly tripled between 1987 and 2007.

“The number of people behind bars in the United States continued to climb in 2007, saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime,” it said.

States last year spent more than $44 billion on corrections, the report said, compared with $10.6 billion in 1987, the report said, adding that the rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending.

The report said the current prison growth has not been driven mainly by a parallel increase in crime or a corresponding surge in the nation’s population.

“Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through the popular ‘three-strikes’ measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them there longer,” it said.

The report said some states, such as Texas and Kansas, have acted to slow their prison population growth, with greater use of community supervision for lower-risk offenders and sanctions other than prison for minor probation and parole violations, such as missing a counseling session.

Ile de Goree

November 4, 2007, Île de Gorée, Dakar, Senegal

When the ferry was ready for us, everyone in the waiting room squeezed through two small exits onto the dock. Then, we crossed over to the ferry with two guys grabbing each passenger to help them across the one foot wide step to get on board. Once on board, the two Germans and I sat on the upper deck. I chose a spot in the shade. In port next to us was a giant container and cargo ship, twelve stories tall. The ferry boat is new, launched in 2006 under the name of Beer. The Germans and I joked quite a bit about that… like, how come no free beer on board? ;-)

Large Container Ship Viewed on Ferry From Dakar to Ile de Goree The Ferry Is New and Named Beer

From the ferry, we had excellent views back to the Dakar harbor and Cape Vert (I think it’s called).

View of Dakar Harbor From Ile de Goree Ferry More of Dakar Cape From Ile de Goree Ferry

Soon, we reached the open sea with magnificent views of Île de Gorée.

Getting Closer to Ile de Goree on the Ferry Approaching Ile de Goree on the Ferry

We sailed around the tip of the island where the fortress, now a museum, is located to get a great view of the harbor, beach, and seaside.

Round the Point of Ile de Goree on the Ferry The Beach at Ile de Goree From the Ferry Ile de Goree Fortress and Museum From the Ferry

The island boasts some wonderful old houses.

Colorful Old Houses on Ile de Goree From the Ferry

Once on land, we paid a tourist tax and walked toward the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House), which was closed for siesta time. On the way to the Maison, we saw this monument to the end of slavery with a man and some children having their photo taken alongside the monument.

Statue of the Liberation From Slavery, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

We also saw a breadfruit tree with breadfruit hanging from its branches.

Jackfruit Tree, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Jackfruits in Front of Colorful Old House, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

We entered a cathedral with some black statues, as well as white ones.

Cathedral on Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Black Figure in Cathedral, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Second Black Figure in Cathedral, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal
On our way up to a peak where the old cannons are gradually rusting away, we saw many arts and crafts stands and paintings painted by local artists.

Craft Shops, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Artist Shop on Top of Peak at Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal View From Peak Over Town on Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

On the way down from the peak, we saw a local soccer game with some guys in real good shape.

Young Guys Playing Soccer, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Young Guys Playing Soccer and One With Longhair, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

We walked over to the port for lunch. A man tried to get us to eat at his restaurant, but I really wanted to eat at the place recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. Eventually we escaped his clutches and made our way over to the Ana Saban restaurant.

After lunch, we went to the Musée Historique de l’IFAN on the island.

Entrance of Musee Historique IFAN at Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal View From Top of Fortress Down Into Musee Historique, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal View From Fortress Over Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

I somehow lost the Germans at the museum, so I walked alone back over past the beach to the Maison des Esclaves, now finished with their siesta break. I started by taking pictures of the “Door of No Return,” which was apparently the last place where slaves bound for the Great Passage across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas set foot on the African continent.

Door of No Return, Maison des Esclave, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Closeup of Door of No Return, Maison des Esclave, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

Here’s what it was like to stand just in front of the door out to where the slave ships used to load their human cargo and the sign currently posted by the Door of No Return.

Standing Just Before the Door of No Return, Maison des Esclaves, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Sign by Door of No Return, Maison des Esclaves, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

Inside the Maison des Esclaves, an exhibit explained about the history of the slave trade and showed some of the actual fetters used to bind slaves.

Shackles for Wrists, Maison des Esclaves, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Shackle for Feet, Maison des Esclaves, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

In a small museum office with lots of signs and sayings posted on the walls, there is an elder who must have helped to establish the museum. I went in to thank him for what he has done and he replied that to the contrary he must thank me for coming.

After the disturbing and moving museum, it was a real treat to be able to relax on the beach with locals and people visiting from all over the world. I met a sweet Italian fellow (married) who is working in nutrition in Africa. It was so much fun that the Germans and I had to run for the Beer ferry when it was time to go.

Italian Friend on the Beach, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Beer Ferry Viewed From the Beach, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

Beach, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal Another Beach View With Ferry, Ile de Goree, Dakar, Senegal

To round out the evening, we dashed to Point des Almadies to see the sunset and eat dinner on the seashore.