Shooting Mars Pride Party
A handful of serious incidents, including a shooting where two gay exhibitors were injured, marred what was largely a peaceful San Francisco celebration of Pride and recent marriage equality wins last weekend.
At about 6:35 p.m. Sunday, June 30, near the end of the Pride festival, "multiple shots were fired" near Larkin and Grove streets, according to a statement from Sergeant Dennis Toomer, a spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department.
Police said in a summary that two men, listed as ages 18-21, approached a group of people. One suspect "pulled a handgun and fired three times into the crowd," striking two men, ages 42 and 23, in the leg. The suspects fled in an unknown direction, and the victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.
"It is unknown if they were the intended targets," Toomer said of the victims.
Len Broberg said in an interview Monday, July 1, that he had just visited the victims, who are friends of his, 10 minutes before they were shot. He said the men had been working at the Tropicana Hotel booth and are from Los Angeles.
Citing information from one of the victims, Broberg said that after the suspect pulled his gun, "everybody tried to duck. Bullets went flying."
"We were lucky there weren’t more people who were hurt," he added.
(Broberg, an out gay SFPD inspector, emphasized that he was speaking as a community member and as someone who attended the Pride festival, not as an investigator in the case.)
One man received a flesh wound and was released Sunday night, Broberg said. The other man, who had also sustained injuries listed as non-life threatening, suffered a shattered femur and was having surgery Monday morning, he said.
Broberg questioned the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee’s security practices and criticized the group’s top officials for not responding to the incident.
People attending the Pride festival - which draws hundreds of thousands every year - aren’t searched before entering and don’t have to pay to get in, although a $5 donation is suggested.
"I know there were a lot of cops out there," Broberg said, but "you have to do something else to control the crowd."
He suggested charging admission for Pride, an idea dismissed by Pride officials for years as they’ve sought to keep the festivities free.
"I appreciate the fact that they like to make it open to everybody," Broberg said, but referring to "youngsters," he said, "I was standing at the gates" for Pink Saturday and Pride, and "they’re just walking through. If you can’t even donate a dollar to the party, then there’s something wrong. You’re not respecting what we’re trying to provide. If you can’t support it with a dollar, then you don’t need to be there."
Broberg also referred to the 2010 shooting death of Stephen Powell, 19, who was killed around the time that year’s Pink Saturday ended. No arrests have been reported in that incident.
Pink Saturday is the Castro street party that happens on the night before the main Pride festival and is organized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Donations are also suggested, but not required, for that event.
In a Facebook post early Tuesday, July 2, Broberg said, "I am angry that people who have no respect for us or our community’s values would bring their violence and thuggish ways and cause pain, harm, and fear. Why do we tolerate this? Why do we allow this to occur? Year after year it continues without being addressed."