A coalition of anti-domestic violence advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday to demand the resignation of newly sworn-in San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
The San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium's demonstration came in the wake of troubling allegations that Mirkarimi, a longtime city supervisor, bruised his wife during an altercation on New Year's Eve. While the District Attorney's office has not yet filed former charges against the sheriff, Mirkarimi remains under investigation.
"We cannot have elected officials who are under investigation," Sharon Johnson, former executive director of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, told CBS News. "These are very serious allegations."
Curiously, Mirkarimi's wife, former Venezuela soap opera Eliana Lopez, was present at Thursday's event, masked by big sunglasses and standing on the sidelines of the activity. Lopez previously drew flack for claiming the allegations against her husband were "taken out of context" and that she had no complaints against him. She has refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Fog City Journal editor Luke Thomas snapped a picture of Lopez at the protest. While it was not immediately known why she decided to attend, Mirkarimi's lawyer, Robert Waggener, told the SF Appeal that Lopez "was on her way to see her husband and saw the press conference, protest, whatever you want to call it, and stopped to sit and watch it for a minute or two. That's what happened." Lopez refused to comment to the press during the event.
The Domestic Violence Consortium joins a growing group of individuals and organizations who believe the new sheriff should step aside. Katherine Feinstein, the San Francisco judge slated to administer Mirkarimi's swearing in ceremony this past weekend, even declined to do so after the accusations surfaced.
For his part, Mirkarimi has dismissed the allegations, denying the abuse and calling his behavior "a private matter...a family matter." He would not comment on Thursday's demonstration.
Mirkarimi has been highly criticized for his handling of the investigation and dismissal of his actions. "It most certainly is not [a private matter]," wrote San Francisco Examiner columnist Melissa Griffin. "And shame on Mirkarimi for saying so...Public safety officials, whose salaries are paid with our taxes, have even less of a right to claim privacy when their neighbors call the cops."
Beverly Upton, executive director Domestic Violence Consortium, served on Mirkarimi's transition team last November. She was one of the most vocal opponents during Thursday's protest.
"We are here to say, 'Enough,'" she told CBS. "I am not the judge, nor am I the jury, but I think the right thing will be done."
District Attorney George Gascon said he is still debating whether he will formally file charges and will announce his decision either by the end of this week or early next.
UPDATE: According to a new poll conducted by CBS 5, a majority (54 percent) of San Franciscans surveyed think Mirkarimi should resign or take a leave of absence.
Take a look at a video report of the incident below: