Mirkarimi's wife criticizing SF justice system

March 29, 2012 8:13:04 PM PDT
The wife of suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is criticizing the criminal justice system and the city's domestic violence organizations. Eliana Lopez approved an article a friend wrote on her behalf. Against that backdrop, hundreds of people who work to stop domestic violence are in San Francisco for a national convention.

Myrna Melgar says her friend Eliana Lopez has given her permission to reveal what the two of them have been discussing for weeks: the arrest of Lopez's husband Ross Mirkarimi for domestic violence.

"I think the approach over the last 20 years has gotten more toward criminalization and in Ross and Eliana's case, yes, I think it was heavy handed," Melgar said.

Melgar believes the emphasis should be on early intervention

"Invest and fund programs that do counseling, family support, therapy," Melgar said.

And in an opinion piece in the Bay Guardian newspaper, Melgar accuses domestic violence activists of disempowering Lopez by not reaching out to her. In a not so subtle jab, Lopez herself has posted a link to her friend's story on the website of La Casa De Las Madres, a San Francisco domestic violence organization that has called for Mirkarimi to resign.

"La Casa De Las Madres has remained steadfast in our message that this is about victims safety and batterers accountability; its bigger than one person or one incident," group spokesperson Kathy Black said.

But this one incident is putting a spotlight on the issue. A national domestic violence convention kicked off Thursday in San Francisco. The Ross Mirkarimi case is not on the agenda, but it was certainly being talked about.

As the debate continues to swirl, Lopez is now somewhat removed on a court sanctioned trip to her native Venezuela.