At least a half dozen “highly militant” LGBT protesters were arrested and threatened with felony assault charges for their involvement in a violent protest that formed in response to the “Prison of Love” party outside of the Kink.com Armory building in San Francisco on Saturday night.
As you may recall, a handful of angry bloggers and DIY social media activists were offended by the event, a prison fantasy themed dance party marketed largely toward gay men, alleging that it “trivialized” the LGBT incarceration rate and profited from “genocidal practices.” The sentiment was kicked off by a Jezebel blogger known as Kat Callahan, who incorrectly identified the “problematic” event as being one officially-sanctioned by San Francisco Pride.
According to SFBG, around 150 people belonging to an activist group called “Gay Shame” arrived at the Armory to protest around 10pm. The protests quickly turned violent as a handful of “unruly” activists began throwing eggs at security guards, spitting on partygoers at the scene, and launching “metal objects” with slingshots at those across the picket line. In a statement to the paper, Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth said the “protesters were largely peaceful,” but “at least a dozen were highly militant.”
Witnesses say the arrests happened shortly before midnight down the street at the 16th Street Mission BART Plaza, where security guards had followed the protesters in an attempt to identify the provocateurs to police. Witnesses say the protesters turned violent upon their arrest because they felt unfairly targeted by police.
According to San Francisco Police Department spokesman Albie Esparza:
Esparza confirmed that a security guard followed the protesters down to the plaza, though for the purpose of identifying the offenders when the police arrived. One protester reportedly threw a metal object and made threats toward a security guard during the protest, both of which are being charged as felonies, while another allegedly through an egg and spit on a security guard. When the police attempted to arrest the protester for the alleged felonies, Esparza said two other protesters tried to intervene. They were arrested and charged with lynching—a violation of Penal Code 405a, defined as “the taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer.”
Two other protesters were cited for interfering with an officer and resisting arrest, and released, according to Esparza. The protesters who allegedly threw the egg was cited for battery and released, he said.
Armory facilities manager Andrew Harvill confirmed that protesters “’used a slingshot to propel objects at security,’ and punched and spat in the face of the Armory’s manager of security.” Four of the six originally arrested have been released on bail.
Earlier last month, Acworth acknowledged that he had tried to communicate peacefully with protesters to find a middle ground. “I realize that Pride is both a celebration of LGBTQ identities and historically a time when serious issues that affect queer communities are highlighted,” he wrote in an open letter on his blog. “Had I thought that a prison fantasy party would detract from the very serious issue of the prison industrial complex in this country, I would have insisted on another theme.”
In a follow-up email to SFBG, Acworth added: “I attempted to negotiate directly with the crowd, but this proved unsuccessful. This was frustrating, because I agree with the underlying issue that we are in need of prison reform…Had it been possible to change the theme, we would have done so.”
Meanwhile, it appears that everything inside the Armory went off without a hitch: