San Diego’s Coronado Bridge: Suicide Prevention Measures Considered

 

San Diego's Coronado Bridge

San Diego’s Coronado Bridge

As of May, 2015, the City Council responsible for the Management of the Coronado Bridge in San Diego gave a unanimous vote to study the type of suicide prevention barrier that would be the most effective.

The Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention Collaborative has initiated a project similar to that of San Francisco, for a barrier costing $75 million, consisting of a -20 foot wide steel net.

The numbers of completed suicides in San Diego in recent months appear to differ. Some local articles list 131 in the past 15 years. Other sources, drawing from such resources as the Coronado Police Department and the Medical Examiner and the California Highway Patrol report more than 150 people have jumped off the bridge to their deaths since the year 2000.

Even more devastating is the fact that since January 2015, police have responded to 41 additional attempts.

Homelessness in San Diego County – A Factor, January 2015

According to the San Diego Union Tribune April 2015 article,  the number of people living on the street or in shelters in San Diego County increased by 2.8 percent from last year, according to results of an annual count of homeless people. (This is an estimate.)

Volunteers in the annual count found 4,156 people living on the streets, a 4.3 increase from last year. Another 4,586 people were in shelters, a 1.4 percent increase from last year.

Of the 4,156 people on the street, about 70 percent were males and 15.4 percent were veterans. Almost 28 percent were believed to have either an addiction or severe mental illness, and more than 70 percent said they had been homeless a year or longer.

The WeAllCount Campaign, also known as the Point-in-Time Count, was held in the early morning hours on Jan. 23, 2015.  That’s over 8,700 homeless people!

Sand Diego's Coronado Bridge

Sand Diego’s Coronado Bridge

Suicide Then and Now:

As reported since my previous blog in July, 2011, San Diego’s Coronado Bridge and the City’s Recent Suicides, the signs along the bridge giving suicide prevention counseling information haven’t been working.

CalTrans, the company who oversees the maintenance of the Coronado Bridge seems to have taken their former callous attitude and snuffed it, in favor of a more compassionate stance to at least do a feasibility study.

According to public information officer, Edward Cartagena of CalTrans, many variables have to be considered. What works in San Francisco, may not work in Coronado. Although they have added technology in the event of earthquakes, added weight and wind currents need to be considered (in addition to cost).

Dr. Jennifer Lewis on the faculty of the Department of Social Work at the University of California – San Diego, wants a sense of urgency to be placed on this issue. In reality, a feasibility study can range from six months to two years to complete.  She is in favor of a barrier, saying “other places where they’ve gone in, they’ve been 100 percent effective.”

The Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention Collaborative is serving as the watchdog.  From recent posts on their Facebook page, it appears they are doing what they can to build awareness and prevention. https://vimeo.com/132130635.

Witnessing of a Suicide

Dr. Lewis wants to protect the potential further witnessing of suicide that can be as traumatic as those who have lost a loved one. Not much is found on internet resources about this aspect. 

An anonymous writer wrote of this experience in 2008 – A haunting experience to witness the suicide of a stranger as a “good Samaritan.” (Some editing)

“Last week I was driving over the San Francisco Bay Bridge and watched someone get up on the railing and jump off. I found out later that he died and was picked up by the authorities.

I did all the things I was supposed to do – called 911, checked in with the authorities, let myself cry before driving a vehicle etc. I’ve been in touch with friends who are therapists and gotten plenty of hugs and loving people to support me.

The image of him getting up on the side of the bridge and the way his body looked as he jumped haunts me. I know it’s probably too early to expect that it go away. I’m just struggling with what meaning to find in it all and how to find people who won’t judge what I am experiencing.

I’ve looked for support sites online and have found a number of places that are for friends or family who have had someone they love commit suicide. However, I don’t even know this guy’s name. I wouldn’t want to be intruding on what is obviously a very sensitive time for someone who has a friend or family member die. 

This situation is challenging for me because I don’t know much about what happened, or why it happened. There is not much more information I can learn. I also have found that while some family or friends have tried to be helpful. They have had a tough time not assigning blame, being judgmental or putting their own issues about death and suicide onto my plate.  As a result of their attitudes, this experience feels even more confusing and alienating.”

I sincerely hope and pray that this person sought professional counselling and was able to focus in the land of the living.

Sand Diego's Coronado Bridge

Sand Diego’s Coronado Bridge

Putting the Pieces Together – One Woman’s Story

As reported in an San Francisco Chronicle in 2005, (some portions edited) investigators with the Coroner’s Office are a special breed of detectives.  Those who are elderly jumpers are few and far between.

Such was the case of Lois Anne Houston.  She was a heavy-set 75-year-old, who jumped from the San Francisco Bridge and apparently hit the water face first. The impact opened up her face from nose to chin, leaving a gaping red wound and a grotesque death mask.

The investigator, Darryl Harris stated, “There must be something pretty outrageous in her life that made her do this.” You just don’t see this occur – hardly ever.”   That would turn out to be true.

Lois chose a cloudy Sunday morning, April 24, in which to end her life. She drove north onto the bridge, in her blue Ford Taurus, put the emergency flashers on and climbed over the divider to the pedestrian walkway. A California Highway Patrol officer spotted the car and went to investigate. He saw that the vehicle was empty and then saw Houston on top of the bridge railing, according to the report.

Inspector Harris found Houston’s body in the familiar spot, on the long tray under a tarp on the dock. He pulled back the tarp and went through the routine of checking the body and looking for identification including her purse.

It was tough to see Houston on the pallet. The impact had shredded her clothing. Her black pants and floral print blouse were in tatters, barely clinging to her arms and legs. Her panties and bra were in pieces.

There was bruising everywhere, on her thighs, chest, back and face. She wore a gold watch and a ring on her finger. She wore black socks and was missing one shoe.

Her wallet had photos, but it was difficult to know with certainty, which was portrayed in the photos.

Lois‘ sister from Florida returned a call received from a police officer, Her sister stated that Lois “had no family out west.”  She had lived with another woman for 40 years, and her partner had died last summer.

In the interim, Lois was diagnosed with colon cancer. Lois recently had been told that her cancer had spread to her liver.  (I think Lois, still actively grieving, just wanted to be with her partner all the more after receiving the news and decided to “skip a prolonged, painful death“ as her choice.”)

The pathologist reported clinically and coldly that Lois “died of multiple blunt-force injuries, due to a “jump from height.”

 

Returning to the Trenches and the Effectiveness of Suicide Barriers

Whether stated in 2005, or 2015, Inspectors with the Coroner’s office have their own opinions.

At the time in 2005, Darryl Harris said “he didn’t have an opinion” on whether the bridge should have a suicide barrier. However, most of the jumpers he investigated had significant histories of suicidal behavior.  Harris’ comment,“I don’t know that a barrier would do much good, I think people will find other ways to kill themselves, and it might mean they do something that puts someone else in danger, like jumping off a building or intentionally driving their car into traffic.”  THAT, is an opinion.

Conclusion-

We cannot say whether a barrier will help in all instances. But, it may be a deterrent in some cases, as nothing is foolproof. As a friend likes to say… “Let’s get busy” (when it comes to suicide prevention).

Anti-Suicide Resources:

1) National Suicide Prevention Hotline Call 24/7 1-800-273-8255

2)Hotlines listed by State – http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

3) 917-65-1889- http://sisfi.org/suicidetours.html

 

References:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/may/06/coronado-adds-support-to-bridge-suicide-barrier/

http://www.coronadonewsca.com/opinion/you-can-help-with-suicide-prevention/article_d49062f8-033c-11e5-a232-0719767a57f5.html

http://ask.metafilter.com/108103/Witnessing-the-suicide-of-a-stranger

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/LETHAL-BEAUTY-No-easy-death-Suicide-by-bridge-2562269.php

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/apr/23/count-shows-homeless-numbers-up-in-county/

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San Diego’s Coronado Bridge and the City’s Recent Suicides


 Suicide is not pleasant…. nor is it a palatable topic. However, Ladyjustice has been afflicted by the apparent cluster of recent suicides occurring in the San Diego region since May 2011.  In a land promoted on postcards as “America’s Finest City” during the mid 70’s, this occurrence was and is certainly an indelible stain on any city. 

Construction on the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge was completed in 1969 at a cost of $50 million.  Coronado’s 16,000 residents traded the old ferry service for dollar tolls and easy access. 

In truth, the first fatal fall from the Coronado wasn’t a suicide… In 1972 a man forced his wife to jump from the edge….. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. 

The lives of tormented people “cuts to the quick” of the reader’s psyche and is the most compelling part of any tale.  Can anyone truly understand what drives a person to such finality?  Psychologists can reel off “red flags”, symptoms, causes and resources available.  But, in truth we have no resolutions, no quick answers.  There are outside influences.  However, this topic, usually reserved for “hushed tones”, really falls in the category of self- determination.Determination by oneself… Freedom to live (“or die”) as one chooses, or to act or decide without consulting another or others.” (Dictionary.com) Ladyjustice believes that freedom to do as one chooses is a double edged sword!  It has been sought after and fought for over centuries, in wars, during the emancipation of slaves, during the right for women to vote and many other civil rights initiatives….. up to and including the current and most savage example of lack of self-determination -that of human trafficking. Most of these accomplishments are considered milestones… and something to be proud of, having been achieved through self-determination. Suicide doesn’t fit…. It never fits. 

This author imagines that the great debate concerning civil liberties and religious beliefs will continues into infinity regarding the right to die.  However, this blog is not meant to be a philosophical debate.  Rather, it is meant to highlight a majestic conduit, an inadvertent inexplicable human byproduct of such architecture and to relate a sad and multiplying sign of our economic times. 

In May 2008, freelance writer, Randy Dotinga completed an interesting account for the San Diego Union Tribune of the bridge known as a “suicide magnet.” It was constructed in 1969 with concrete towers shaped like mission style arches featuring the world’s largest primary support beam.                       

 

 The structure rises 200 feet above the bay, to allow tall ships to pass beneath and spans a 2 mile area.  This imposing edifice is reflective of San Diego’s architecture.  It was purposely built without sidewalks and has the narrowest of emergency lanes. 

As of May 2008, 236 people perished.  The highest incidence per year occurred in 1980 (16 deaths) and 14 in 1973.   As of 2011, updated statistics were not available except to note that it is the third deadliest bridge in the United States.  (Wikipedia.org)Mr. Dotinga’s article stated that “at this year’s rate, the suicide death toll will reach 250 by the summer of 2009, just in time for the bridge’s 40th birthday. 

The number of fatalities on the Golden Gate Bridge “beats out” San Diego (1,200) according to 2005 data.  The second highest may be “a virtual tie” with the Coronado Bridge –  that of the Seattle Washington-George Washington Memorial Bridge with over 230 suicide deaths reported, depending upon the source used.   Other bridges that are noteworthy on an international scale include the Nusle Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic (300 deaths as of 2010), the Van Stadens Bridge

Near Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa (76 deaths) and the Horsney Lane Bridge near St Paul’s Cathedral. 

“America’s Finest City” (San Diego) has also seen its share of suicides from hotels, hospitals, apartment buildings, cliffs, and freeway overpasses. San Diegans have been witness to repeated debates from many factions such as: 

1)      Caltrans – the company who oversees the maintenance of the Coronado Bridge. They denied the “urban legend” that the center span of the Coronado Bay Bridge was designed to float in the event of a bombing, as reported in January, 2011.   In 2008 Caltrans appeared to show disdain and indifference for human life after a 17 year old boy lost his life in response to a plea by his father for the construction of a barrier: 

As reported by Drew Leavens, the former county chief of suicide prevention, Caltrans’s response was: “One, we don’t want to spend any money. Two, we don’t want to be sued.  Three, we don’t want to screw up the beauty of the bridge.  Four, we don’t want to screw up our maintenance.  Five, we just want the suicides to stop… or at least to slow down…” 

2)       As a “pacification/alternative” appeared- a handful of small signs with a suicide hotline and emergency phones.  As of 2008, one “antique looking black call box” remained; the majority of emergency phones were removed in 1993 to install a fifth lane to accommodate traffic going east or west. 

3)      In the late 1990’s Al Birney, the Toronto father of a schizophrenic son and mental health advocate “moved heaven and earth” to obtain the installation of a Luminous Veil after his son took his life.  See barrier photos and link:  http://www.architecture.uwaterloo.ca/faculty_projects/terri/steel/veil.html 

4)      In the 1950’s the San Diego City Council discussed installing “a net to catch jumpers” and fencing with inverted spikes at the Cabrillo Bridge built in 1915. 

5)      5)  A “simpler and cheaper” strategy- emergency phones with direct access to counselors.  New York, Tampa, and Seattle have installed various permutations of this idea.  However, this prevention strategy has its problems, in that some bridges cannot safely accommodate a safe lane for would be-jumpers to stand and call. 

6)       Another option has reduced the number of suicides. Regular patrols by the California Highway Patrol officers were based at the Coronado Bridge’s toll plaza, 24/7, monitoring video from eight or nine bridge cameras. These efforts allow quicker access to those than otherwise in which response time would be at least an hour.  

However, similar efforts in Florida at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge report suicide rates remain “fairly steady.” 

What does all of this mean?  And… are any of these measures truly effective especially in the devastating economic times of 2011? 

Psychologists say that despondent people are attracted to majestic structures.  The theory goes that jumping into the water brings a sense of returning to the womb, passing into the afterlife.  John Hopkins University professor, Kay Redfield Jamison comments that suicidal people view the world from a “paralyzed perspective” in which options are non-existent.  They cannot separate the future from the present… and the present is painful beyond solace (From her book: “Night Falls Fast Understanding Suicide.”) 

Such a description makes Ladyjustice think that these victims are so consumed with their painful life such that they can’t even contemplate a painful death. 

There is serious disagreement whether barriers are an effective preventative.  And then there are those who would separate the serious minded suicide attempts versus “just those who are crying for help.” There is still more debate among professionals, whether people deterred by a barrier go on to choose a substitute method.


The Reality…. and the Facts:

There is no fantasy to associate – Falling by suicide guarantees a horrific landing; the very few that do survive the impact, die by drowning;

As the Coronado Bridge is 200 feet tall, a person falling from this distance acquires a speed of 70 miles per hour. 

The crux of the matter appears to be whether or not others advocate for this issue.  At USCD, four students jumped from the roof of the 11 story Tioga Hall in the 1970s and 80’s.           A former Executive Director on behalf of the UCSD… states “…parents of the victims spoke up and talked to reporters. Not so for the Coronado Bridge suicide victims….. In recent years they appear to have suffered in silence without seeking public attention.”  

(***When you have a surviving family members or friends who are willing to advocate and go public with their grief, such an act makes all the difference in taking action against all matters of human deprivation.  And thus… the birth of the entire group of fine advocates, caring people and contributing writers of “Time’s Up Searching Out Solutions (SOS) for Victims of Crime…. and many, many other efforts across this country.

 

Coming Full Circle- The Newly Departed of San Diego:

 Writer Randy Dotinga began his article by relating the story of a female sailor, Case # 07-02619, and the 233rd fatality on the Coronado Bridge. Her fall upon impact did not kill her.  However, she drowned.  She was just another tag on the right ankle.  She did not make the news….

Intimate Partner Violence Rears Its Ugly Head… 

In the news as of May 2011, there had been four cases of murder-suicides in San Diego in 31 days. 

On May 24th the Chula Vista based Pimienta family of four was found dead at their home. Alfredo, the father, in his mid forties and owner of a tow truck business was experiencing financial troubles, with his business license soon to expire.  According to police, the parents left notes indicating they planned the deaths.  The father and two daughters were found in the swimming pool while the mother was located in the bathtub.  One daughter, Pricilla was about to graduate from the acclaimed San Diego High Tech High School and was preparing for college.  The youngest daughter was 9 years old. 

On May 31st, 41 year old Mary Alvarez and her two children, aged 11 and 12 were found beaten and strangled in separate bedrooms by Mary’s ex-boyfriend (who was not the children’s biological father). The man subsequently committed suicide by jumping from a Spring Valley freeway. 

On June 24, 2011,Thomas Fuchs and his two teenaged sons were found shot to death in their home in Chula Vista. The father reportedly killed his children, set their house on fire and shot himself.  Several suicide notes wee found. 

In Oceanside, Tyrone and wife Vanessa Knight were found dead whose bodies were discovered on July 5th.  The husband was the initiator.  A written suicide note was dated June 24th. 

Dr Jacqueline Campbell of John Hopkins University has reported in June 2009, that epidemiology research across 17 states, of 408 murder-suicides studied, 90% were males with 80% killing an intimate partner.  “Prior domestic violence is by fat the number one risk factor in these cases…” 

Alan Bergman Director of the American Association of Suicidology, states that such clusters are unusual… there is no data to prove that suicide is in any way contagious….  Some people who are already considering the idea, may act impulsively. 

Ladyjustice says …there is always a better way to deal with life’s problems!  Do not suffer in silence if you are suffering.  

In San Diego, contact Survivors of Suicide Loss, a support, awareness and prevention group.  (http://www.sossd.org) or your local mental heath professional.

 

A Place in History for the Gay Community

(Should Gay History be included in the California School Curriculum and Textbooks?)

Preface:

G- Genovese, Catherine Susan  (Kitty) (July 7, 1935-March 13, 1964), was a New York City woman who was stabbed to death near her home in the Kew Gardens section of Queens, New York on March 13, 1964. Genovese shared her Kew Gardens, Queens, apartment with her lover, Mary Ann Zielonko

The circumstances of her murder and the lack of reaction of numerous neighbors became a rallying call for apathy of crime when it was reported that 38 people witnessed her murder and didn’t contact the police.  This case became known in psychological circles as the “bystander or Genovese syndrome.”

 A -Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In a long, complex career, she was a pioneer settlement worker, founder of Hull House in Chicago, public philosopher (the first American woman in that role), sociologist, author, and leader in woman suffrage and world peace.

Y-Ken Yeager is an American politician from California, 2000-2006 serving on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, representing District 4. Yeager is openly gay, and the first openly gay elected official in San Jose. His long-time partner is Michael Haberecht.

H- Harvey Milk     – American politician for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and gay rights activist.  prior to his murder committed by Dan White. “What set Harvey apart from you or I was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us.” Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

I-William M. Inge May 3, 1913 – June 10, 1973) was an American playwright and novelist, whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s, he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, and one of these, Picnic, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. With his portraits of small-town life and settings rooted in the American heartland, Inge became known as the “Playwright of the Midwest”.

S- (1) (The)Society for Human Rights in Chicagobecomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization in 1924;

(2) 1969 TheStonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
  T- (Lucie Blue) Tremblay (Born 1958 in Montreal) is a Canadian folk singer-songwriter, who performs music with lesbian themes. She writes and performs material in both English and French. Her debut album, released in 1986 by Olivia Records, was voted Top Ten Album of the Year by the Boston Globe.[1]

O- Olivia Records…..Olivia Cruises Founder and president, Judy Dlugacz, conceived and created Olivia Records in 1975 featuring women’s musical artists, producing 40 albums and sold over a million records.  This was the genesis of Women’s Music as a genre.

Olivia Cruises started small in 1990 with a single voyage on a tiny ship. But 20 years later, the lesbian cruise company Olivia has become a major force in the industry, regularly chartering vessels that hold 2,000 passengers or more for all-lesbian vacations at sea. The San Francisco-based company, which has branched out into land vacations as well, has an average of 14 trips in the works, as of 2010.

R- (1) Jerome Robbins (October 11, 1918 – July 29, 1998) was an American theater producer, director, and choreographer known primarily for Broadway Theater and Ballet/Dance, but who also occasionally directed films and directed/produced for television. Robbins was a five time Tony Award winner and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. He also received two Academy Awards, including the 1961 Academy Award for Best Director with Robert Wise for West Side Story. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About, featuring excerpts from his journals, archival performance and rehearsal footage and interviews with Robbins and his colleagues, premiered in PBS in 2009.

(2)Robert Reed-Shakespearean trained actor, appeared in “The Defenders” series and the popular and iconic TV series “The Brady Bunch.” Reed was the patriarchal figure to his blended family of six children.  Although he was frequently unhappy with the scripts, he continued in his role.  Reed had been married and had a daughter, but felt it necessary to be in the closet to his family and audience for the majority of his career.     Internet sources indicate that Reed died on May 12, 1992, at his home in South Pasadena, California, after a six month battle with colon cancer and lymphoma and was previously HIV positive. The acting community and his Brady Bunch family was a supportive surrogate family.

Y-Kenji Yoshino is a legal scholar and the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. Formerly, he was a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His work involves Constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, civil and human rights, as well as law and literature, and Japanese law and society.. Major areas of interest include social dynamics, conformity and assimilation, as well as queer (LGBT) and personal liberty issues. He has been a co-plaintiff in cases related to his specialties. A Japanese American, and openly gay man, Yoshino also writes poetry for personal enjoyment.

Feature Story:

As of April 2011, the California State Senate approved landmark legislation to include gay history as required teaching in public schools. This bill is awaiting approval from the Democratically controlled Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown.

As reported in an AP article for the San Diego Union Tribune,  the language further requires that the California Board of Education to adopt textbooks and teaching materials on the contribution and roles of sexual minorities by the 2013-2014 school year.

The proposed legislation would also prohibit “the adoption of any materials that reflect adversely on the gay community or particular religions.”  (Lady Justice asks how religion gets placed in this context.  The gay community practices all types of religions.  Is this an garbage pail attempt to include everything we can think of in one bill?  And how does one balance teaching about homosexuality and religions which may prohibit gay rights?)

Detractors state that they are already overburdened with mandates, teacher layoffs and teaching for mastery tests.

Bill sponsor, San Francisco’s openly gay Democratic Senator, Mark Leno states, “We are conspicuous in our absence…. Should we delete the inclusion of all the groups that are currently in the statute? Why is that okay and not LGBT? That is discriminatory.”

Earlier, groups who successfully lobbied to ban gay marriage in California also dislike children’s books portraying alternate types of relationships such as “Tango Makes Three,” a picture book about two male penguins raising an orphan penguin.  This book again topped the American Library Association’s ‘most challenged books.”  ( Ladjustice – Oh please… the underlying concepts of compassion, creating a safe and loving family for those who are neglected is the message here…)

The scariest part in the opinion of this blogger is that the bill leaves the hard work of deciding what material to include to what grades and ages…. to individual school districts.

Therefore, no consistency, and perhaps a cursory treatment with little thought, “just to cover them” is a real risk in the opinion of this blogger.   To this point, Republican Senator Doug La Malfa asks, “Are we supposed to remove Winston Churchill from the curriculum to get this type of curriculum in?”

California currently mandates schools to teach history regarding the following ethnic, cultural and minority groups:  Women, Mexican-Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Entrepreneurs, Labor and Native American Indians.  (‘Kudos to California for their inclusivity!)

When all is said and done…. It comes down to what principals and teachers deem important enough to teach in the classroom and how much time they have….

The events at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 are considered a defining “Rosa Parks” moment in gay history.  To lean more, please view the following brand new PBS documentary film:

“An American Experience” will be premiering the documentary film, Stonewall Uprising in April 2011.  Award-winning filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner tell the story of the impromptu battle between bar patrons and police on June 28, 1969 following yet another raid of the Mafia-owned Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. Most LGBT historians as the pivotal moments described by the Village Voice—in the history of gay liberation..

And… One More Thing….   For an interesting account of Gay History portrayed in a timeline, go to:

The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0761909.html#ixzz1Nfjdy0lm

A Plea to Stop Using Craig’sList in Favor of SafeList


In the aftermath of Donna Jou’s disapperance and possible murder, another example of the predatory behavior of Craig’s List  looms large…..  (See Garrett Berki story below)

Reza Jou found a solution to the lack of security  problem that contributed to the  in the form of a blog posting from abusinessman named Karim Pirani, the president and founder of SafeList.com, a website

 that requires users to submit to questions to confirm who they are before gaining access to the site’s core features.

Pirani came up with the idea not because of a personal tragedy but because he saw a market disconnect with sites like craigslist.org.

“If you see a must-have item on eBay, what do you do?” Pirani asked rhetorically. “You look up the seller’s ratings, you then can buy through PayPal, which gives you a certain amount of protection. Craigslist has no PayPal, so a transaction is like Russian roulette. People are nonchalant where they should be vigiliant.”

To become a verified user of SafeList, individuals must submit themselves to a series of questions based on their personal life history that the system pulls from a comprehensive public database. They must correctly answer these questions within 240 seconds.

In addition, failure to respond correctly will keep the person at the basic user level, and SafeList will also report any convicted felon or sexual predator that attempts to register on the website to law enforcement.

***Currently, SafeList is available only in San Diego, but other West Coast cities are expected to be added in 2011. 

About SafeList Ventures
SafeList Ventures, Inc. a privately held start-up, is working to make online classified advertising safer and more secure. The SafeList.com portal provides a “one click” ID verification and criminal background check, allowing members of its community, both individuals and merchants, to interact within a safer online marketplace. To learn more about the company, please visit its website at www.safelist.com.

 

Calling for Justice Justice for Garrett- San Diego Style 

An 18-year-old Mission Beach man was shot and killed and three 17-year-old boys were arrested Wednesday night in Paradise Hills after a Craigslist deal turned into a robbery, San Diego police said. Family and friends identified the victim as Garrett Berki, a 2010 La Jolla High School graduate who was attending Mesa College.

Three teenager charged in the shooting death of Garrett Burki stood in court during their arraignment. The judge ordered not to show their faces.

San Diego police said. Family and friends identified the victim as Garrett Berki, a 2010 La Jolla High School graduate who was attending Mesa College.

Vigil held for teen slain answering Craigslist ad

SAN DIEGO — Three San Diego teenagers accused in the death of an 18-year-old man who was robbed and shot after he responded to a Craigslist ad for a $600 computer pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other felony charges.

Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones and Shaquille Jordan, all 17, also face counts of robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle, as well as gun and gang allegations. They have been charged as adults.

If convicted, they each face a potential prison sentence of 50 years to life.

Dressed in orange Juvenile Hall-issued clothing, the three teens stood together Friday in front of a San Diego Superior Court judge to answer to the charges. One looked down at the floor as attorneys asked for appropriate bail amounts, given the seriousness of the case and available information about the boys, such as their criminal histories, if any.

Judge Joseph Brannigan ordered the teens held in lieu of $5 million bail.

Defense attorney Kevin Milmoe had asked that bail be set at $1 million each, adding that two of the boys — Abernathy and Jordan — did not have criminal records. A prosecutor asked for $2 million bail.

The teens are accused in the Wednesday night shooting of Garrett Berki of Mission Beach. Berki was a 2010 La Jolla High School graduate and was attending Mesa College.

San Diego police said Berki went with his girlfriend to Casey Street off Alta View Drive in Paradise Hills shortly before 10:30 p.m. to buy an item that was advertised for sale on the Craigslist website. Deputy District Attorney Kristian Trocha told the judge the item was a computer.

The couple met three teens who pretended to be sellers, and one of the three produced a handgun.

The robbers took cash and cellphones from the couple and drove away in a green Honda Accord. Berki and his girlfriend followed the Honda to try to get its license plate number.

Authorities said the Honda driver, identified as Jones, pulled onto Artemia Way, a cul-de-sac, and turned the car around. Berki then tried to “box in” the Honda but was unsuccessful.

As the Honda passed the couple’s car, someone inside the suspect vehicle fired a single shot, hitting Berki in the chest. The driver of the Honda kept going, jumped a curb about two blocks away and crashed at the end of Fleming Drive.

The driver and passengers got out and ran.

Officers found three suspects minutes later, hiding in backyards about a block away.

Trocha said Abernathy is believed to be the shooter. Investigators recovered a computer and an expended .45-caliber shell casing.

The prosecutor said all three defendants are members or affiliates of a southeastern San Diego gang. Only only one of them has been documented as such by police.

Mothers of two of the teens said after the hearing that they were sorry for Berki and his family but stressed that their sons did not fire the fatal shot.

Patricia Dykes said police told her that her son, Shaquille Jordan, was in the car Wednesday night when the robbery occurred.

Both she and Shearese Johnson, mother of Seandell Jones, described their sons as good students who were poised to graduate this year from local charter schools.

“I just want my son back safely with me,” Johnson said.About 100 people gathered Thursday night at a vigil for Berki at Mission Beach, including his father, mother and sister. Berki has four siblings.

dana.littlefield@uniontrib.com • (619) 293-1287 • Twitter @danalittlefield