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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Another Assault at Toad Hall During a Protest For LGBT People of Color

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 2:02 PM

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For the second time in six weeks, Castro gay bar Toad Hall was the site of hostile pushback against a peaceful #BlackLivesMatter and #TransLivesMatter protest. On Saturday, February 28, a rally against violence began at Jane Warner Plaza at 2 p.m. and morphed into a march that culminated outside the 18th Street bar. Organized by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, it drew well-known speakers, including as Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. (I was present for the first hour, but left before the march began.)

Regrettably, even anti-violence marches can turn violent, and as the crowds thinned, a Toad Hall staff member physically and verbally assaulted transgender Latina activist Danielle Castro on the sidewalk.

Castro sits on the SF Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Action Committee and is also the founder of TAJA’s Coalition, an organization dedicated to trans issues such as affordable housing. (The name refers to Taja DeJesus, a transwoman who was murdered on February 1, but is also an acronym for “Trans* Activists for Justice and Accountability Coalition.”) As I did not witness the incident after the march, I spoke with her by phone. An email to Toad Hall asking for comment went unreturned.

“I’m disabled, and it’s hard for me to walk too much. I needed to sit down and I did, in front of Toad Hall,” Castro, 39, told me. She was positioned near the door but said that, “People were getting through to the bar. The manager came out and started telling people to get out of his doorway. He touched my back and shoved me and said, ‘You need to move, because you’re blocking my doorway. Bartenders’ lives matter, too.’”

Castro said her friends tried to intervene and say that she wasn’t doing anything wrong, but the manager went inside to call the police. When they arrived, Castro asked to file a police report, but after presumably speaking with Toad Hall’s staff, the officer told her she would need to do so in person at the precinct in her neighborhood (which happens to be near the Cow Palace) or place Toad Hall’s manager under citizen’s arrest herself. There was a lot of back-and-forth, including threats that the bar manager wanted Castro placed under arrest for allegedly violating a fire code.

“I’m a therapist and I could lose my license if I’m arrested,” Castro said, adding that she works with queer youth in the neighborhood. “I was there protesting the violence that we face as transwomen of color, and [the bar manager] displayed it at me. I tried to speak with the police about what happened, and they were awful. It was hell. I was wearing the T-shirt of my sister and friend Taja de Jesus, who was just stabbed to death in the Bayview.”

A relatively more confrontational, night-time #ShutDownCastro event in January involved protesters actually entering Toad Hall as part of an Occupy-style protest, which led to several bar patrons and staff hurling invective and getting physically rough with them. (To be fair, entering a bar en masse is a provocative tactic that some people find counterproductive, but it is not an act of violence and does not merit a violent response. Additionally, participants at January’s protest also entered Badlands, and found the atmosphere there comparatively welcoming.) 

Meanwhile, Danielle Castro is scheduled to meet with the Chief of Police and does not plan to let the matter drop.

“I’ve been doing this work for so many years that I already know that the SFPD goes through training, and the curriculum was started by trans people. So this is plain ignorance. I just went to Kaiser today, and I have micro-tears in my ligaments and muscles around my hip, which I already have to have replaced,” Castro said.

It’s a shame that an event organized to call attention to violence against the most marginalized members of the LGBT community has once again become a site of that violence. The Castro is assumed to be the safest and most welcoming neighborhood in the city, but two protests in six weeks prove that that is not always the case. 
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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

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