02/15/2013 05:04 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

San Francisco Jail Dance Flash Mob: Embattled Sheriff Organizes Dance To Combat Domestic Violence

The San Francisco Sheriffs Department held a series of dance flash mobs at the city's jails on Thursday as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who spent much of last year enveloped in a personal domestic violence scandal that nearly cost him his political career, reached out to Dancing Without Borders founder Magalie Bonneau-Marcil to choreograph inmates and Sheriffs Department staffers in a flash mob as part of "Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising campaign.

"I'm pretty excited about this," Mirkarimi told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We are the only sheriff's department in the state or country doing this."

"Being incarcerated can be very isolating and disempowering," Bonneau-Marcil said in a statement. "By dancing, inmates find an opportunity for personal healing and an invitation to rise as part of a global healing movement to stop violence and oppression. That is in itself incredibly transformative."

The dance, performed by both women in the city's Sisters in Sober Treatment Empowered in Recovery and men in the Resolve to Stop the Violence Program in San Bruno, was very similar to the one done as a flash mob done in front of San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza a few days prior.

Mirkarimi's tenure as sheriff has been inexorably linked to the issue of domestic violence since a video surfaced of his wife, former Venezulean telenovela star Eliana Lopez, sporting a bruise on her arm given by the former Board of Supervisors member.

The sheriff pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment and survived an attempt by Mayor Ed Lee to have him removed from office on official misconduct charges.

Lee hosted another One Billion Rising event at City Hall that same afternoon. Other local events included a morning dance/walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as dance parties at Grace Cathedral and El Rio.

Check out this short documentary about the Bay Area's One Billion Rising efforts:



The Ross Mirkarimi Trial