On Wednesday, April 28, the San Diego Police Department, along with local LGBTQ+ leaders and business owners held a news conference to announce the “Safe Place” program, where victims of the growing anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and hate crimes will be welcomed and safely protected. The increase in LGBTQ+ hate crimes, especially in Hillcrest, has raised serious concerns by leaders in the LGBTQ+ community. In attendance at the news conference were Police Chief David Nisleit, Mayor Todd Gloria, City Council President Dr. Jen Campbell (District 2), City Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn (District 3), local businessman Chris Shaw, LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer Christine Garcia and myself. Here are some of my remarks from the news conference:
“Good morning and buenos dias. First off, let us take a moment to remember that yesterday (April 27, 2021) was the second anniversary of the hate attack against the Poway Jewish Synagogue where Lori Gilbert Kate lost her life. Today is an important day for us in the LGBTQ+ Community of San Diego and our relationship with the San Diego Police Department. From the 1970s, when we had a homophobic and racist police chief, we were harassed and beaten, our bars and nightclubs were raided and we were constantly subjected to abuse and treated with hatred. Today, we have a police chief who makes himself available to LGBTQ+ leaders and activists, attends every meeting of his LGBTQ+ Advisory Board (as well as every meeting of his African American and Latino, Asian American Pacific Islander and all of his community advisory boards.) An absolute first in San Diego history. Think about it: Today we have an outstanding police officer Christine Garcia, who is a Transgender woman, and she is here with us announcing a police and LGBTQ+ community program that will help protect her LGBTQ+ community! Let me tell you from a Latino LGBTQ+ activist (for over half a century now), this is indeed progress and positive change in San Diego.
“But we, the San Diego LGBTQ+ community, want to make something very clear, we stand with the Asian American Pacific Islander, Jewish, Latino and African American and Native American, Muslim, immigrant communities and this sign also means that any San Diegan facing a hate crime or harassment can come into our LGBTQ+ businesses, bars and restaurants where they will be helped and protected from hate and violence. Because for us in the LGBTQ+ community, a hate crime against one of us is indeed a hate crime against all of us.
“I want to acknowledge and thank Susan Jester, co-chair of Sheriff Gore’s LGBTQ Advisory Council; Eddie Rey of the Equality Business Alliance; Big Mike Philips, chair of San Diego GLBT Vote; and other LGBTQ+ leaders and activists who are in attendance this morning for their support of this program and, most importantly, Police Chief David Nisleit, Mayor Todd Gloria, City Council President Dr. Jen Campbell (District 2), City Council President Pro Tem Stephen Whitburn (District 3) for their continuing leadership and commitment to stopping hate crimes in and against the San Diego community, thank you.”
The Safe Place Program and LGBTQ Safe Place Resources can be reached at 619-531-2000 for non-emergencies. Or online at SanDiego.gov/police/safeplace