Protesters outside a prison-themed party
Protesters outside a prison-themed party

By Erin McElroy

JUNE 30, 2014 — Seven queer activists were arrested on Saturday night, June 28th, following a protest against a San Francisco Pride prison-themed party.

The seven arrested included a National Lawyers’ Guild Legal Observer, four people of color, and one trans woman.

Several protesters were clubbed and beaten to the ground after a protest numbering several hundred marched to the Armory Building at 14th and Mission Streets in the Mission District. As of Monday morning, four of the arrestees have been released, and three are being held waiting an arraignment that will most likely take place on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Sheriff’s Department personnel confirmed that Rebecca Luisa Ruiz-Lichter, Prisca Carpenter, and Sarai Robles-Mendez are in custody. The charges are ones historically used to repress protesters, such as lynching (which in today’s legal terms has been removed from its racist legacy and is now congruent to resisting arrest).

The march, organized by Gay Shame ( and LAGAI (, left the 16th Street BART Plaza at 10:20pm following a series of festive dance parties, and headed two blocks to the Armory Building, where was hosting a party fetishizing the prison industrial complex.

Promoters of the party invited guests to “get arrested” and enjoy “solitary confinement, showers, jailbreak, love and lust, freedom and confinement” in what was called “Pride at the Armory | WE Party Prison of Love – SF.”

The protesters argued that the party was an insensitive event that profited off of the brutality suffered by trans women and gender nonconforming people of color, who are so often funneled into the prison industrial complex. As one of the banners read, “There are no prisons in a queer paradise.” Another explained, “The Police State Ain’t Sexy.” The Brass Liberation Orchestra played protest music, as activists chanted, danced, and projected statistics about the prison industrial complex upon the walls of the Armory.

As far as I saw, the protest was peaceful, and no one was hurt.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine that a protest could be a threat to the people at Kink’s party – is, literally, a fortress, with thick brick walls. The doors are locked and guarded. spokesperson Mike Stabile said that while most of the protest was peaceful, “a handful” of activists were using a slingshot to fling projectiles at the Armory and throwing fruits and vegetables. He said some of the people entering and leaving the party were harassed; at one point, he said, protesters tried to enter the party and that a security guard was punched in the stomach. “At that point, we decided it was too violent and called the police,” he said.

I saw no slingshot or projectiles and I didn’t see anyone punch a guard, although with several hundred people on the scene it was impossible to witness everything. In fact, after the protest broke up, people were talking about how peaceful it had been.

After an hour of protesting the party, activists marched back to the 16th Street BART Plaza to regroup, debrief, and bid each other goodnight. Within ten minutes, police cars stormed the area. Several protesters were tackled by the police, seemingly randomly, much to their surprise.

Carpenter was arrested first, and was thrown violently onto the ground by six officers. A legal observer was picked out of the crowd and arrested, as were other activists of color. A trans woman, peacefully minding her bicycle on the corner next to me, was pointed to and then approached by the police, who instantly handcuffed her much to her confusion.

When I asked on what grounds they were arresting her, numerous police officers stated that they did not know. When I finally spoke to their commanding officer, I was told that she had been identified by as a provocateur.

According to the officers on the scene, a security guard working for Kink had described those he recalled seeing at the protest to the police. For instance, he described Carpenter, who identifies as genderqueer, as “an Asian woman with short hair.”

The only grounds for arresting the trans woman described above was that she was with a bicycle, and police were looking for someone with a bicycle. Needless to say, countless people had bicycles at the protest.

Later in the night, after being detained for hours at the Mission Police Station, she was released with no charges or a citation, and only an apology.

Stabile said he’s still trying to track down the details, since much of the staff was working all weekend and as of this morning not all of them were available. SFPD Public Affairs hasn’t gotten back to us either.

But we do know that the incident has landed three activists in jail, two of them facing bail of more than $50,000.

“This is a travesty–on the anniversary of the famed Stonewall Rebellion, where trans and queer people rose up against police brutality, that seven people would be arrested for protesting an SF Pride-sanctioned party that celebrated state violence and prison rape,” said Mary Lou Ratchet, an affiliate of Gay Shame.

It is ironic that those targeted by the police during this action – trans and POC queer abolitionists – were protesting the very system that led to their arrest. While was hosting fantasy prison enactments within its brick walls, queers protesting the fetishization of prison were violently tackled by the police and jailed. Those who participated in the party entered and exited the prison party with free will. The three incarcerated protesters have no free will in exiting the jail that now nonconsensually ensconces them.

Organizers are asking supports to call District Attorney George Gascón (415 553-1751)  and demand the dropping of all charges against Rebecca Ruiz-Lichter, Prisca Carpenter, and Sarai Robles-Mendez.

There is also an online petition:

  • Sam

    You cannot use violence to attack a party predicated on sexual liberation and self-determination for sex workers and then expect zero pushback from those who are traditioanally our allies against oppression.

    This protest was misguided. Whatever happened to SF’s alleged tolerance for sexual expression? Has QueerCorp lost its bearings?

    • what violence???, I was there and saw none, where you even there?

      • Sam

        The violence was widely reported. Unless you are claiming to have been everywhere all the time and all-seeing, then you must accept that there could have been problems even if you personally were not involved or did not see them.

        In any event, you have not rationalized this attack on sexual liberation and sex workers’ rights.

        • You dont see the problem with a prison themed party on the anniversary of stonewall?…..Think.

          • Sam

            Correct, i do not see a problem with a light-hearted festivity that gently satirizes and plays upon some well-known and broadly accepted whimsical perceptions of the sexual stresses involved in single-sex incarceration.

            But then again i am not a tight-ass who sees an ideological imperative every time someone somewhere is having some fun. You know that accepting, non-judgmental, tolerance and respect for diversity that you have apparently lost somewhere along the way?

          • I’m sorry I dont find police brutality fun, its not something to be tolerated…..mainly cuz it still happens partly do to the ignorance of someone like yourself. Its fine to disagree but you should at least admit the party was problematic in its lack of respect for those who fought for your freedoms in the first place. btw it has nothing to due with the sex, i dont get why you think it does.

          • Wagnerian

            I certainly do not see a problem with a prison themed party on any day of the year. I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

            I have family in prison. I’ve bend to jail myself. That’s reality. Protesting fantasy is for fascists.

          • Celebrating police brutality is for fascists, its about respect for those who have fought the fight. I see yr point but really the shit still goes on so it is not just a fantasy.

          • g2-ca78978727d33fb007720b354c8eae9d

            You may consider it something, “not to be tolerated” but you have no right to impose your views on others, any more than the right wing, religious Republicans whom you so closely resemble.

        • Well, actually, SWOP SF *supported* the protest, and some sex workers participated it in. (In particular, the “queer porn” affiliated crowd.) There are long standing labor issues between and it’s cam workers after all. More about that here:

          That said, to the best of my knowledge, the protest had little if anything to do with the above-mentioned labor dispute, and everything to do with Bay Area-style symbolic politics and Gay Shame’s need to do something attention-seeking each Pride season. Based on conversations I’ve had and posts I’ve read on Twitter, the protest wasn’t exactly universally supported by Bay Area sex workers either, in spite of SWOP SF’s putting their name behind it.

          So, in short, not an “attack on sex workers’ rights”, but sex workers and LGBT people on both sides of this – very much an “only in SF” thing.

      • It has been reported that toward the end of the protest, a protester got into an altercation with one of the partygoers and broke the partygoer’s collerbone. If that’s true, I can see why there were arrests, even if the way the police went about making the arrests was random and way out of line.

        • If that is true your right, but the randomness is a problem either way. Hopefully we will get a more accurate picture of what all went on over the next couple days, though I doubt it.

  • Wagnerian

    You are leaving out the part about the attendee who got their collarbone broken by a protester. Also, the part about how fucking absurd and wrong this protest is… Also the part about how gay shame leadership has a history of goading the police at their protests, and putting their own people in danger.

  • Peter

    Why not ask Erin’s rich daddy to post bail for the alleged violent protesters?

    • Sam

      Erin is clearly hypocritical and clueless but she is also irrelevant. What is more important here is why one faction of the left is attacking another element of the left.

      If gays are attacking sex workers, then how will the coalition of the oppressed.ever succeed.

  • Mary Lou Rachet is incorrect when they state that this was a SF Pride-sanctioned party. This party was not sponsored, sanctioned or endorsed by the SF Pride Celebration Committee. The author of the article should contact SF Pride to verify this aspect of the story.

    • Bill Murphy

      Thanks Joey for this clarification. And hello, it’s Philippe’s friend.

  • g2-ca78978727d33fb007720b354c8eae9d

    Gay Shame and LAGAI should STFU. They have no business in my bedroom any more than a conservative, fundamentalist, right-wing religious republican does. They may find the whole idea of prison sex offensive, but they have no business attacking people who find it erotic. I have no tolerance for intolerance, including the intolerance of the left.

  • shredeveverything

    I’m upset that people were hurt and arrested, and I’ll be calling the DA to encourage them to release the protesters and drop all charges. That being said, this protest was extremely offensive to me.

    Gay Shame and the others who were there should be ashamed of themselves for protesting a kink-themed party. Rarely do kinks match people’s political sensibilities and our community has no business policing other people’s sexualities. Their oft-stated slogan for the protest is that “Prison isn’t sexy”. You know what’s never sexy? … ANY *real* Domination and Submission. But kink isn’t real. It’s pretend. And if it’s safe, sane and consensual, it enlivens people lives by playing with and often subverting the real (sometimes frightening, sometimes dark) power dynamics that structure our day-to-day.

    Of course I oppose the prison industrial complex. I also oppose rape, sexual slavery, humiliation and torture. These things are awful when they happen in real life. But kink isn’t real life. It’s oppressive and a waste of time to mandate what other people should find sexy. It’s strange times when even the radical members of our community start staking out such conservative positions.

    • Bill Murphy

      Well stated – best comment here so far, IMHO – in that it gets to the core issues. The only other thing I would say is that there are a lot of errors of speelling, sintacks and dickshun here (not you.) Really quite sad given what that says about people’s command of the English language. Sorry but it drives me crazy.

  • Glen

    It was NOT a peaceful protest. I was in line for the party and was harassed heavily. My hat was tipped off by one of the protestors and people were swearing at me and my friends. The protestor in general were trying to intimidate everyone in line and shame us into going to the party. I understand their desire to protest, but lashing out on people who choose to go to the party is unnecessary. I wish these people would behave in a more civilized manner. Now if anything, I no longer take them or their cause seriously

  • SFrentier

    This ‘protest’ is an interesting combination of left wing conservativism. They will tell you if a prison themed party is ok or not. These people are childish, myopic idiots. And that Erin chick…must harbor a lot of pent up anger at her east coast upper middle class white upbringing. She’s so transparent it utterly predictable. In a few years she’ll probably mellow out into a sour, crabby has been. Only saving grace is that this stuff is really entertaining to read about. Its like watching a car crash in slow motion.

  • Kristin

    While LAGAI and Gay Shame were protesting against this event, the real thing is happening here and they haven’t raised an eyebrow about it. Ross Mirkarimi and his Board of Supervisor “progressive” ally John Avalos are supporting the building of a bigger jail in hope of holding more people even though the jail population has been decreasing in recent years. So instead of using city resources to assist people who may need services that may help them remain out of jail, they are proposing using those resources to do the opposite. And because it’s Mirkarimi and Avalos who are behind this reactionary project, the same people who protested the Armory event are either supporting the jail project or are keeping quiet about it. Unbelievable!!

  • Puck

    This protest reminds me of when people used to protest drag as inherently misogynist. Drag is not inherently misogynist and a fetish party like this is not inherently in support of the prison industry. People who make such claims are being overly simplistic (and they are probably smart enough to know that they are being manipulative as well).

    What good does a protest like this do when it divides the kink/queer community with other left communities? If the protest asked questions rather than pointed fingers of “shame”, I might feel differently about it, but I find this protest offensive and lacking integrity.

  • SF Gay

    Fuck these idiot protestors for protesting me and my friends and my community. They have no idea what they are talking about, and should check their self-righteousness…and their smug privilege.

    They probably should not be in jail (though to be clear, they are in jail for what happened during the arrests, not the protests), but when you run thoughtless and amateurish protests, you take on all sorts of risks about losing control of the situation.

  • eddyjay

    Not even the SFBG would run something so po-faced and dull. Welcome to San Francisco, Erin. Now go home.

  • castronaut

    “As far as I saw, the protest was peaceful, and no one was hurt.” Therein lies the difference between journalism and blogging.

  • robin

    please take time to consider the facts. prides is celebration of stonewall which was a riot against the police. the police target and brutalize queers historically. its upsetting to see pride turned into an event that celebrates the oppressors. As for the mysterious rumor of a person with a broken collar bone, no one was arrested for that. thats like saying some one stabbed someone out side your house so you in your house deserves to be arrested. also people there are not against sex work. it wasn’t about that at all. its about queers against assimilation of oppressive culture. Also your precious kink palace was the ones who called the cops on a group of queers who were speaking their minds (unless you want to be a fascist and say that people can’t do that). can you not see the irony of a prison theme party calling the cops on queers during pride and putting them in actual jail? you cannot say its a fantasy. Kink made your fantasy a reality for people who did not consent to it. if you wanna go to prison so badly, go. dont force other people too.

    • SFrentier

      Your ‘spin’ is a fail. Gay pride is a huge event, celebrated internationally, and means different things to different people. A singular fantasy based event has nothing to do with stonewall. The protesters are ludicrous and acted like angry children. How ironic that some of them ended up in a prison. Should make for some good future tale spinning, I’m sure.

    • SFGay

      No, no….this was about queers vs. queers. That was trust-fund babies protesting people living with hiv. This was paid activists turning their venom on everyday-working LGBT people. This was a bunch of folks so filled with their self-righteous anger that they don’t have any more judgment.

      And I resent being protested when there is so much real damage in the world that needs to be taken care of.

  • robin

    woud you have said that to the people who protested at the stonewall riot? if you want to celebrate your assimilation into heteronormative and police culture that’s your business. congrats, bank of america will now let you have a joint account. they must really care about you. your inability to have any compassion of intellectual understanding is a “fail”

    • SFGay

      The sex workers who were inside of the Stonewall Bar when it was raided were the exact same kinda folks who were inside when it was protested.

    • SFGay

      And Robin…if you care so much about changing culture and our state…I encourage you to learn some effective techniques for political change;

      I promise those effective techniques do not start by mounting a protest against LGBT people out celebrating their lives and their advances.

  • This article points stuff out and also with Video, something that’s been missing.

    • it’s not my responsibility to help raise the awareness of a millionaire wearing a plastic SFPD golf-shirt. abolition to me includes getting rid of prisons and serving masters.

      • 44-poz-mexican-pissed

        And yet your idiot protest has made the LGBT community like even more. Attacking innocent LGBT people is no way win allies.

      • jankSchwar

        So lets have rapists and murderers run free, I’m sure if your momma or sister got raped you sure as hell wouldn’t be for abolishing prisons.

  • The police are historical oppressors of the LGBT community. Why this love for police and the prison-industrial complex at Pride?