SF's Castro District residents on high alert after surge in muggings


On Saturday night, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence helped get the word out.

"I think people come here and they think it's the gay mecca, and that there's this sort of cloak of safety about it, but we live in a big city," Sister Eve Volution said.

San Francisco has seen a recent surge in muggings, especially of victims who are on their smartphones and not paying attention to their surroundings. And the Castro has not been immune to those attacks.

"Somebody stole my phone from me, and I started chasing after them, and then a second person came up behind me and pushed me down to the ground," victim Dalton Huckaby said.

Huckaby suffered cuts and bruises from that attack last month. He helped pass out safety kits put together by the sisters and the Castro Citizens on Patrol this weekend.

A safety whistle is included in the kit, which is something that had been used to ward off gay bashings in decades past.

"If you find yourself in a state of danger you should blow over and over three times in a row. And just keep going until you have scared away the danger or someone has come to assist you," Castro Citizens on Patrol spokesperson Greg Carey said.

Part of Saturday's outreach is to encourage residents of the Castro and visitors to get help if they are attacked in any situation.

Coming forward and reporting is often a problem in this community.

"A lot of people in San Francisco are from elsewhere, and so they may have had a bad interaction with the police and so that mistrust may not be due to the SFPD but because of where they're from," Carey said.

Neighborhood organizers are encouraging people to use these whistles if they're attacked. But they're also asking anyone who may hear the whistles to safely respond, be a good witness, and call 911 for help.

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