Transcript, Audio: Mirkarimi Criticizes DA, Police, Domestic Violence Agencies
Update 9:38 a.m. Here’s audio of Mirkarimi speaking on KQED Public Radio’s Forum show today.
Here’s an edited transcript:
Michael Krasny: You must be feeling pretty exuberant.
Ross Mirkarimi: Exuberant, yes. My family hasn’t slept any. But I’m eternally grateful for all our incredible support and to the people of SF for having to endure this agonizing process.
Michael Krasny: But the polls show 61 percent of the people feeling this shouldn’t have gone down this way, and seven of the supervisors were not with reinstatement.Ross Mirkarimi Well I don’t know what poll you’re quoting and I know that a number of people were quoting a variety of polls. We’ve seen polls leading up to yesterday, very recent polls, that even had district by district breakdowns. And I have to tell you those were not push-button polls. These were well in-depth polls that demonstrated that the high majority of people in many districts throughout he city were undecided about this, and that we either were receiving strong support for reinstatement or it was almost an even split if the undecided was not that large.
To this day, nobody from the domestic violence agencies, nobody from the police department, district attorney, has ever reached out… [to] the very person they claimed to defend, the very person that they have tried to use.
I think what people are tired of is this torture that has been kind of well-played out in the press. Distorted, misportrayed, of me and my family, and I think everyone looks forward to just now going forward.
Michael Krasny: How are you going to really roll up your sleeves and get to work in building trust, not only with the supervisors but with Mayor Lee?
Ross Mirkarimi I started already. As the events were concluding last night, I reached out to the caretaker sheriff, spoke with [her] almost around midnight. We have planned a transition debriefing starting later today and over the next several days. I’ve reached out to members of the command staff and the president of the rank and file union already to let them know I look forward to a debriefing and catching up with them.I think people should not forget, when you last had me on your show, which was my coming out interview after being quiet about all of this just because of how humiliated and ashamed and lost I was feeling… that I had served as sheriff for nearly three months, and a lot of what we began …which was halted or stalled… are now the kind of action we can return to.
The narrative that Eliana has not fallen into is what’s bothered them, which is why I think they’ve intensified their attacks.
But I come into this as a very humbled person, one that has gone through an incredibly difficult process publicly…and that’s not an experience one just loses, that now…indelibly has marked me and I would like to believe enhances me in what it means to be a very effective and dedicated public servant.
Michael Krasny: What do you say to those detractors who argue that now it’s like the fox being in charge of the henhouse? It was a very serious crime according to the attorneys who spoke on behalf of the mayor, and in fact one deputy city attorney said it would be like Michael Vick being in charge of animal control.
Ross Mirkarimi Since day one of this whole ordeal there’s been an incredible amount of mischaracterization and mistportrayal about who I am and what I’ve done. And yet to this day, nobody from the domestic violence agencies, nobody from the police department, district attorney, has ever reached out… [to] the very person they claimed to defend, the very person that they have tried to use.
And yet she has written a number of pieces just outraged at that level of dismissal. So If in fact this is a representation of victims rights, they should talk to the person that they claim to represent and hear what the full story is. And that has never been well told.
The narrative that Eliana has not fallen into is what’s bothered them, which is why I think they’ve intensified their attacks. Such as a Michael Vick analogy, or such as even suggesting to us last night that the next thing I could do is seriously hurt or kill my family. I mean my god to say those kind of things in order to enhance your position, while that might be politics and that might be legal maneuvering in a court contest, it does not mean you have to scare people into falsehoods thinking that is the kind of branding that is going to support their narrative. And I reject that.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After nine months of headlines and bitter legal squabbling over the fate of San Francisco’s sheriff, three members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that they decided he should not be removed from office over a domestic violence case involving his actress wife. Four supervisors voted in favor of Mirkarimi: John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kim, and Christina Olague, whom Lee had appointed to replace Mirkarimi on the Board after he became sheriff.
It would take at least nine votes from the 11-member board to oust Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who was elected last fall and mired in controversy before his swearing-in ceremony. But three of the first four supervisors to discuss their upcoming vote said they would not find that Mirkarimi was guilty of official misconduct.
When the third announced his intention, Mirkarimi smiled and appeared stunned, and his wife embraced her attorney. A throng of Mirkarimi supporters cheered.
Inside an intense overflow board chambers mostly filled with Mirkarimi supporters, lawyers for both the mayor’s office and the sheriff stated their respective cases before board members during an hours-long hearing.
Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser said that Mirkarimi simply committed an act of domestic violence and that should not be ignored.
“It wasn’t a mistake on December 31. It was a crime, a very serious crime,” said Kaiser as a chorus of boos erupted from the crowd.
“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” Waggoner said.
The dramatic case has played out all year long.
In March, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay after the sheriff pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment related to a New Year’s Eve dispute with his wife, Venezuela soap opera star Eliana Lopez, who suffered a bruised bicep. Mirkarimi was sentenced to three years of probation, fined $590 and ordered to undergo one year of counseling and parenting classes.
The mayor then took the unprecedented step of trying to permanently remove Mirkarimi from office. Lee testified before the city’s Ethics Commission in June that he would find it “extremely difficult” to work with Mirkarimi again, and said he thought Mirkarimi committed domestic violence.
In August, the commission decided 4-1 that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct, setting the stage for the supervisors’ vote on whether to oust him.
Mirkarimi was elected sheriff in November after serving seven years as one of the city’s more liberal supervisors.
Lopez, who starred in numerous TV shows and films in Latin America, seemingly put her budding career on hold to become a mother and the wife of a rising political figure in San Francisco.
Mirkarimi’s woes began Dec. 31 when the couple got into an argument over whether she could travel to her native Venezuela with their toddler son, Theo. Authorities say Mirkarimi bruised his wife’s arm during the fight with an overly firm grip.
The next day, Lopez turned to a neighbor, Ivory Madison, who later contacted police. Authorities eventually confiscated video Madison had taken, along with text messages and emails between the two women. The video shows Lopez pointing to a bruise on her right bicep where she said Mirkarimi had grabbed her.
When Mirkarimi appeared at his swearing in with his wife and son on Jan. 8, reporters asked him about the incident. He called it a “private matter, a family matter” — a comment that caused anti-domestic-violence activists to call for him to step down.
The couple has since reunited and said attempts to remove Mirkarimi are a political witch hunt.
They sat together during the hearing Tuesday, as more than 100 people spoke, an overwhelming majority in favor of Mirkarimi — some wearing “Stand with Ross” buttons.
Relatively few called for the sheriff’s ouster. Beverly Upton, executive director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, told board members that Mirkarimi’s crime requires disciplinary action on their behalf.
“I know today will take leadership and courage,” said Upton, the anti-domestic violence advocate. “The facts matter. The world is watching.”
Brenda Barros of San Francisco said many people don’t entirely agree with the anti-domestic violence advocacy groups regarding Mirkarimi. “Don’t make the assumption that all women agree with these women, because we don’t,” Barros said to loud applause.