After assaults, trans woman upset at lack of SFPD response

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 15, 2023
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The San Francisco Police Department is facing criticism from a Black trans woman who said she's been attacked twice but police have not responded. Photo: John Ferrannini
The San Francisco Police Department is facing criticism from a Black trans woman who said she's been attacked twice but police have not responded. Photo: John Ferrannini

A Black trans woman tells the Bay Area Reporter the San Francisco Police Department isn't doing its job after she brought two alleged assaults to its attention — including providing a picture and workplace information for one alleged assailant.

"This frustrates me and it has me feeling some type of way about this," Deanna Green said. "They're not going to do anything when it comes to a [people of color] person of trans experience in this town being attacked."

The two alleged assaults, which occurred in the Tenderloin, are unrelated, Green said. The first was July 27 at Turk and Taylor streets.

"I was standing up talking, waiting to use the bathroom and this cis straight man — heterosexual, not a gay male — was walking past me and the person using the bathroom," Green said. "I present as a female. He butted into our conversation and said, 'I don't like you.' It's like, you don't even know me, excuse me. He was talking to me; he reached in his pocket and reached for a knife and I was like 'you need to remove yourself now.' He started to charge at me with the knife and I tried to fight him but I pushed him off of me — he could've stabbed my face; it was a huge knife. It was just awful."

Green said she called the police who "never showed up."

"I went to the precinct and made a report," she said, adding she had a picture of the alleged assailant and told the police where he worked. "They said they'd follow up with me and this person where they worked and nothing ever happened."

Then, on October 27 at Post and Larkin streets, Green was attacked again, she said.

"It was another male, he was coming up the sidewalk, Larkin up to Post, and when he passed me, he pushed me and I was like, 'I know you did not just touch me' and he was like 'fuck you, get out of the way' and I was like 'get out of the way? I'm not in your way,'" Green said.

"I kept waiting for the person I was meeting on the corner and he said, 'if you're standing here when I come back, imma fuck you up.' He went into the alley. When he came back he walked back to the corner where I was standing and he swung a [piece of] metal; it looked like a pipe."

Green stated in an email that before he pulled out the pipe "he stated he would kill me and cursed at me calling me a 'gay bi---.'"

Green said she sprayed him with pepper spray.

"I had to subdue him," Green said. "I don't know what was going on in his head. He was not on drugs. He was in his right state of mind."

The police didn't show up again, Green said, but she went to the precinct to file another police report.

"Of course they didn't, and I knew they weren't going to show up," Green said. "I haven't heard anything."

Melissa G. Hernandez, a legislative aide for District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the area, told the B.A.R. that Green's story "is really concerning" and she should feel free to reach out for assistance. Hernandez confirmed Green had not reached out as of November 14; she said she would let Preston know about the situation.

SFPD responds

Sergeant Kathryn Winters, a trans woman who is a public information officer for the department, stated to the B.A.R. that she could only locate a report on the July 27 incident.

"On July 27, 2023 at approximately 4:29 p.m., an officer working the front counter at Central station was contacted by a reporting party who said they had been assaulted in the area of Turk and Taylor around 5:30 a.m. that morning," Winters stated. "The reporting party told the officer that she was approached by the suspect who made a statement to her and then hit her.

"The reporting party then hit the suspect," Winters continued. "The reporting party said the suspect pulled out a knife and swung it at her, after which she pepper sprayed the suspect. The suspect the[n] fled the scene. The victim received a non-life threatening injury, for which she had sought medical attention for on her own."

When asked if the department was going to investigate the incidents, Winters said in a November 1 phone interview, "I don't have access to individual case files" and that "the suspect wasn't fully identified. There's nothing identifying who this individual is."

When this reporter told Winters that Green said she showed police a photo of the alleged suspect in the July 27 incident and told them where he worked, Winters said that didn't match the information she had on hand. She did not respond to two subsequent email inquiries if information about the October 27 incident had been located. On November 14, Winters stated when asked again that "as I told you previously on that one, we have no record of anyone calling 911 or making a report on that incident based on the information you supplied."

Green alleged that "the police is not for people — they protect property, that's what they do, and I've heard them out here say that. They're not for POC people."

Winters stated in an email, "As for the statement that police are 'only interested in protecting property, not people,' I will say that our highest priority is to protect life. Every day our officers respond to calls for service where people are in danger, and those calls are not only of a higher priority from dispatch, but for our officers as well."

Winters stated in an email that "factors that can come into play with response times are nature of incident, other incidents occurring in the district that may tie up limited police resources, information given by reporting parties, and staffing."

Continued Winters: "Generally, when a crime is in progress, i.e. the suspect is still on scene and actively committing a crime, the call is coded as an 'A priority' receiving a higher response priority. If a suspect has fled and there is no longer an immediate danger, the call is coded as a 'B priority.' If the incident being reported happened hours or days prior it is coded as a 'C priority.' Responses to B and C priority runs can be longer depending on the volume of calls for service and the complexity of those calls and any other incidents occurring in the district. The coding of calls can also be impacted by the information available or given to the dispatcher at the time of the call."

Debra Walker, a lesbian on the city's police commission, told the B.A.R. November 14, "Until I know more details I'm not going to comment. I'll look into it."

Walker did say, "It's one person's word over the next. But it's concerning if reports aren't being filed."

'My life was in danger'

The B.A.R. reached out to Green about Winters' response. Green said that if the department's highest priority is protecting life, they should follow up with her.

"My life was in danger. ... They're not gonna do anything? I guess there's nothing to talk about," she said. "This guy swung a pipe at me on October 27 up there on Post and Larkin. I still have bad anxiety about that type of stuff.

"They don't care about POC people in San Francisco and they don't think it needs to be addressed. The next time, I could get killed," Green said. "Some action needs to be taken, and I need some kind of satisfaction, some kind of relief, some kind of something. Nobody's called me, nobody's interviewed me. Nothing."

The State of California offers help for victims or witnesses to a hate crime or hate incident. This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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