Monday, July 20, 2009

Some Progress at the Folsom Street Fair

Notorious Event to Prohibit “Lewd Behavior”

Back on April 30, the Bay Area Reporter (“serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communies since 1971”) reported that the San Francisco Police Department had told Folsom Street Events, the organizers of the Folsom Street Fair and Dore Alley Fair that they’d better crack down on obscene and lewd behavior at their events.

In the article, Folsom Street Events Executive Director Demetri Moshoyannis pledged to follow the rules and said that a larger number of the event staff will be devoted to security.

But we are not very trusting, so we check the Folsom Street Fair website every once in a while to see if they are notifying fairgoers that, from now on, obscenity/public lewdness laws will be enforced. Well, apparently Folsom Street Events has heeded the warning. This year’s “FAQ” page on the Folsom Street Fair website includes this advisory to those who plan to attend the event:

Q: What is the policy on lewd behavior?

A: Folsom Street Events encourages all fairgoers to express behavior that is safe and within the law. We encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for providing a positive communal environment for the adult alternative lifestyle community. Lewd acts will be disrupted by our security volunteers who reinforce this message for anyone found on the fairgrounds to be in violation of our policy.

At the suggestion of SFPD, we have implemented a more aggressive graduated policy for violators of the lewdness policy.

Step 1: Verbal warning: Inform the fairgoer that the behavior is not allowed and that they will face ejection from the fair on the next occurance.
Step 2: Reminder: Fairgoer will be reminded of the first warning and given a personal escort to the fair exit with notification to gate volunteers not to allow re-entry. Warn the fairgoer that on the next violation of this policy we will escalate to SFPD.
Step 3: Turn over to SFPD: SFPD will be called to assist and requested to cite the fairgoer who has violated the lewdness policy.

Lewd behavior in second and third story windows on the fairgrounds will be referred directly to SFPD for intervention.

This is the first time the Folsom Street Fair’s “FAQ” page has posted such a warning. The most recent cached “FAQ” page, from February 14, 2008, contains no warning of any kind against illegal behavior.

We’d written, with evidence documenting the illegal behavior, to city officials and religious leaders on November 14, 2007, and September 12, 2008. We’re glad if our efforts have helped. The campaign really took off when two citizens went to the SFPD’s Office of Citizen Complaints, and filed a complaint there against police officers for not enforcing the law. And the photographic evidence of “Zombie” (the same SF photojournalist who publicized the outrageous recommendations of Obama Science Czar John Holdren on July 10) made an irrefutable case that blatantly illegal behavior has been allowed at the fair.

It's good to see San Franciscans stepping up, and it shows it can be done. As for this year, our motto is: "Trust, but verify!"

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Unknown said...

It's a good first step. But there are enough "weasel words/clauses" in there that it will take much intervention by the SFPD to make it work, I would bet.

Anonymous said...

Police Again Allow Rampant Public Nudity, Sex Acts at Deviant ‘Up Your Alley’ Street Fair

Gibbons in SF said...

Well, that's disappointing.

CAUTION to other viewers of the comments, the pictures at Anonymous 1:20 PM's link are pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you mind your own business? Do you live in the neigborhood where the Fair takes place? Have you ever gone to this Fair? Everyone who goes knows what is going on. There are metal barricades at the entrances. If someone is irresponsible enough to bring a child to this event, then they will be resonsible for what the child sees. I want to see you doing something to clean up deviant heterosexual sexual activity at Spring Breaks, Mardi Gras, on public beaches and in public restrooms. Perhaps then, you could be taken seriously instead of showing us that you are simply trying to take away freedom of assembly and association by gay people--one step at a time.