GLBT Historical Society Museum, 4127 18th St., San Francisco, CA 94114
$5.00 | Free for members
On Friday, Oct. 6, 1989, San Francisco police responded violently to a small, peaceful ACT UP march protesting government neglect of people with AIDS. Nearly 200 San Francisco Police Department officers — half of all those on duty — invaded the Castro district for more than three hours, beating activists and passersby, systematically sweeping all pedestrians from seven city blocks and placing thousands in businesses and homes under virtual house arrest. The event came to be known as the Castro Sweep Police Riot. It resulted in three years of civic turmoil, including protests demanding accountability, lawsuits that cost the city some $250,000 in settlements and numerous disciplinary proceedings that revealed the weakness of the city’s civilian police oversight system.
The Castro Sweep remains the single most massive police attack on LGBTQ people and people with AIDS in the history of San Francisco. To mark the 30th anniversary, a panel of veteran activists will recount their memories of the sweep and its aftermath and discuss the evolution of relations between the SFPD and the LGBTQ community.
Brian Bringardner was an ACT UP member. He organized the group of Castro Sweep victims who sued the city for police brutality; he also monitored the city’s administrative response. For the past 23 years, he has been a prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. During the program, Brian will recount witnessing the beating of Michael Barnett, the sweep of the Castro, the police retreat and the closing protest, as well well as providing as a quick overview of the victims’ lawsuit.
Randi Gerson was a member of ACT UP’s Local Issues Committee who helped plan the original demonstration as well as the group’s response to the sweep. She is currently a real-estate developer who has worked on several large mixed-use developments in the Bay Area and is a mom of two future activists.
Gerard Koskovich was a freelance journalist at the time of the sweep. He was centrally involved with Bad Cop/No Donut, a queer-activist group that led the three-year-long campaign for justice for the victims. He is now a historian, curator and queer antiquarian book dealer. During the program, Koskovich will discuss his research on the likely causes of the sweep and will recount the Bad Cop/No Donut campaign for justice for the victims.
Lester Olmstead-Rose was an organizer at Community United Against Violence who supported the victims in the aftermath of the sweep. He is now director of strategy practice with La Piana Consulting, a national firm that helps nonprofits fulfill their missions. During the program, Lester will discuss the responses of CUAV and other community organizations that worked together to support the victims and will comment on how the Castro Sweep relates to the evolution of relations between the SFPD and the LGBTQ community.
Bryndis Tobin was a student and a teaching assistant in the Human Sexuality Studies Program at San Francisco. During the sweep, an officer clubbed her, causing a permanent injury to her hand. She is now a practicing attorney. During the program, Bryndis will recount what she saw when the march reached the Castro, how she was attacked by an office, and what happened to her subsequently that evening.
Image credit: Police arrest a man during the Castro Sweep (1989); photo by Marc Geller, used with permission.