Three activists arrested while protesting a prison-themed party held outside Kink during Pride weekend were released from San Francisco County Jail on Wednesday morning.
After their release, the activists arrested were at a press conference at the 16th and Mission BART plaza that had already been pre-planned to demand their release on Wednesday afternoon.
They faced charges that included interfering with an arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. The district attorney dismissed those charges on Wednesday, pending an investigation.
Rebecca Ruiz-Lichte, 24, Sarai Robles-Mendez, 21, and Prisca Carpenter, 32, were arrested on Saturday during the protest—which police and Kink say turned violent and injured security guards outside the Armory. For their part, activists say they marched peacefully and it was the police who turned violent towards them.
The irony that activists were sent to county jail after protesting a prison-themed party was not lost in Lacey Johnson of Gay Shame.
“It’s not sexy to be part of the prison incarcerating system,” she said.
Ruiz-Lichter, who was still wearing an orange bracelet bearing her mug shot that she got while in county jail, spoke in front of a crowd of about 50 people at the 16th Street BART plaza.
“I’ve never been strip-searched before. I am still a little shook up,” she said. “This is nothing like that party.”
The activists, some of whom were holding signs that said, “Prison ain’t sexy” and “Liberate not incarcerate,” are demanding that the district attorney not enter charges at a later time since authorities could still file charges within a year. They also demanded the end of the incarcerating prison complex.
The groups, Transgender Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project and LAGAI (Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention), said it was offensive to have such a party during Pride weekend, given the high number of transgender people who have been incarcerated—1 in 6 transgender people have been incarcerated at one point in their lives, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Peter Acworth, Kink’s CEO, responded by saying that he felt sympathetic, that he was open to talking about it, but that the party was too far along in the planning process to cancel.
During the 200-strong protest, which started at the 16th and Mission BART plaza and moved to the Armory on 14th and Mission streets, some of the protesters allegedly threw vegetables and a metal object towards security. While most of the protesters were peaceful there were some who attacked the security guards at the event, according to Mike Stabile, a Kink spokesperson, at the event.
“I would say we are happy to talk, let’s have a plan of action,” Stabile, of Kink, said. “We are disappointed that a protest turned against workers.”
After the release of the three, the activists are demanding that those who were cited and released for misdemeanor not be charged and that those who were arrested not be charged at a later time. The San Francisco District Attorney did not respond to a request seeking comment.
Activists were critical of the police response and Kink during Wednesday’s press conference.
“We are not anti-sex,” Becker, of LAGAI, said. “We are pro-sex, anti-prison.”
Kink said that they want to move past the episode and are not going to press charges. They also agree not to have another prison-themed party again.
“There is a difference between fantasy and reality,” Stabile said. “People in their erotic life have these fantasies. Is it in bad taste to have it in Pride? We can talk about it, but we can’t police people’s desires.”