Each year as part of San Francisco’s Pride weekend, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence hold an LGBT celebration in the Castro district. But in recent years, the celebratory aspects of Pink Saturday have been outshined by safety concerns.
In 2010, 19-year-old Stephen Powell was shot and killed at the event, and two other bystanders were injured. And last year, five people were injured when gunfire from an unrelated gang skirmish injured several Pink Saturday celebrants a couple miles away from the event.
In the wake of these unfortunate events, Pink Saturday’s promoters are recasting this year’s festival as more of a celebration of community diversity than an alcohol-fueled party.
Event sponsors the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence announced the changes after consulting with
Sgt. Chuck Limbert of the San Francisco Police Department.
The festival will replace the main stage of festivals past with food trucks from Off the Grid.
“We’ve replaced the large sound system at the Market and Castro intersection with an array of food trucks,” said Sister Selma Soul. “We believe food trucks will add a dynamic element to the event and will have the added benefit of helping folks who have been consuming alcohol to moderate their drinking.”
Their decision has received support from a variety of sources, including Dykes on Bikes and Supervisor Scott Wiener.
“We toned it down with the large stages and music this year,” said Wiener, whose district includes the Castro. “We teamed up with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to make these changes and publicize the drinking rules that will take place on Pink Saturday.”
Police and professional and volunteer security personnel will be patrolling the event. Event rules prohibit public intoxication, drugs, cans or glass bottles.
“Since January, we decided to transition the focus of the Pink party to a more safety and community festival,” Limbert said.
In the warm-up to this year’s event, the group Castro Community on Patrol hosted a seminar designed to help members of the LGBT community identify and de-escalate situations with the potential to turn violent.
And in keeping with the 2011 decision to make Pink Saturday dry, public drinking will not be tolerated, although bars in the Castro will still be open for business.
“There is no need for excessive alcohol and drugs to alter yourself to have a good time here,” Limbert said. “We are trying to keep the theme of the neighborhood as a nonviolent place, and we wouldn’t want the world to know that it’s just a place to party.”