events took place on Sunday evening, September 19, 1993, revolving
around the regularly scheduled 6:00 PM Sunday Evening Worship
Service of the Hamilton Square Baptist Church, 1212 Geary
St., San Francisco, California. Reverend Lou Sheldon, of the
Traditional Values Coalition, was invited by the church to
be the guest speaker.
church's membership and regular attendees were notified of
the service, through the church's own Sunday bulletin. No
public notice or invitation was made in addition to this.
However, in the September 16, 1993 edition of the Bay Area
Reporter, the meeting was announced in a front page article
using intemperate, inflammatory language. A three-by-five
ad on page five of the September 15, 1993 edition of the San
Francisco Sentinel announced a protest of the Sunday night
service. The church has no knowledge of how, or from whom
they obtained the information.
received telephone calls during the week prior to the meeting,
demanding that our guest speaker should not come. Two people
came to the church during that week asking to see the pastor
and, speaking to the caretaker, notified him that we could
not have Rev. Sheldon as a guest speaker in our church, and
that they intended to stop him.
pastor, Dr. David C. Innes, made at least four calls to the
Northern (Police) Station prior to the meeting, on Saturday
and Sunday afternoon regarding the demonstration, expressing
his concern for potential problems. He called the Northern
Station immediately before the service, and requested more
backup police because he felt the situation was not under
control. He was informed that no backup would be sent unless
requested by police that were present and further, that they
had not requested it. Dr. Innes was told, "You must understand.
This is San Francisco."
and lesbian demonstrators began gathering around the church
property as early as 5:00 PM. The police were immediately
notified by telephone of their presence. As people entered
the building, demonstrators handed out flyers purporting to
be published by the church. These were also placed upon automobile
windshields in the immediate area. By 6:00 PM a riot was under
way. The rioters assumed complete control of the exterior
property and grounds of the church. In spite of several requests
to have them removed the officer in charge insisted that everything
was under control and that police procedures and regulations
would not allow him to do so.
the time of the beginning of the service, an usher, stationed
himself in the courtyard to assist members in gaining entry
to the building. The usher witnessed the destruction of church
property and notified an officer who turned away and ignored
him. The rioters recognized him as a church member, surrounded
him and completely denied him any freedom of movement.
Charles & Donna McIlhenny were refused entry by the rioters,
and told they could not enter the building. The doors were
completely blocked by the rioters. Pastor McIlhenny held on
to Donna as they began to make their way through the mob who
were shouting and screaming in their ears, "You will
not enter this church." The rioters assaulted them, pushing
and shoving them, seeking to keep them from the front door.
One of them grabbed Donna's body, lifting her off the ground,
and another put his arms completely around her, and attempted
to pull her back away from the entry. She stretched her arms
out for help from a nearby police officer who offered no assistance.
Her son, seeing she was in trouble, pleaded with the officers
to assist her. The officers appeared so overwhelmed by the
rioters that they were unable to take control of the situation.
Both of her hands were scratched (the skin was broken).
the church's caretaker grabbed her outstretched arms and pulled
her through to the door, out of the hands of the rioters.
As they made their way past the three police officers at the
door, they were pelted by rocks, which also struck the window
panes of the entry doors. Several members from Pastor McIlhenny's
church also were accosted and had to flee to a side entrance.
There they also found the entry blocked and had to remain
outside until the riot police arrived and let them in the
building. Pastor McIlhenny's son, Ryan and his friend were
not able to enter the building.
removed the Christian flag from the flagpole, and attached
the gay flag under the U.S. flag. The church's caretaker removed
both flags, but a rioter grabbed the gay flag and it was again
run up the flag pole and the rope knotted out of reach. When
the caretaker, again attempted to remove the gay flag, he
was assaulted and hit with eggs. Being pushed back he was
unable to reach the flag pole, and returned to the entry of
the church. Much of the newly planted landscaping around the
flag pole was damaged.
bench was pushed over into the fountain by rioters. When police
were notified of this they refused to respond. A second bench
was dismantled and the seat thrown over into a light well
and destroyed by rioters. The rioters guilty of this vandalism
described this wanton destruction of church property as "interior
decorating." Paper messages were stuck to the handrails,
walls and windows of the building.
parent, who is a church member, and her six year old daughter
were told they could not enter the building. A rioter grabbed
her daughter's arm as she was clinging to her mother, and
began interrogating her. The mother and daughter finally entered
the building by passing through the rioters. The child was
crying and terrified. The mother had also brought an elderly
friend who was refused entry by the rioters. Twenty minutes
passed before she was able to get her friend into the service.
Along with these, many others of the elderly and children
knowledge, riot police were never called in by the officers
present. They came only because the guest speaker left the
worship service and called 911. The rioters were then removed
from the courtyard area of the church property by the riot
police. They then proceeded to the emergency exit doors on
the west side of the auditorium where they pounded and kicked
the doors seeking to break them down. This so disturbed the
service in process that the service had to be temporarily
discontinued. The officers present were immediately notified.
The pounding was so loud, that an elderly blind woman was
terrified, thinking that the sound was gunshots. She began
crying, feeling helpless and threatened, and was comforted
by nearby members. Due to the forceful nature of the rioter's
attempt to break down the doors, one of the exit doors was
damaged in a major way, the door jam being broken.
continued their demonstration, standing on church property
with their megaphone. The rioters then laid down in the intersection
of Geary and Franklin, blocking all traffic. The rioters passed
out the fraudulent flyers to waiting vehicles and pounded
on the vehicles of those attempting to cross the intersection.
The police took no action to remove them for approximately
ten minutes. A woman demonstrator exposed her breasts to church
members present in the area.
a regular attender at our services, and her husband were hindered
from entering the building by the rioters who had been moved
to the sidewalk. When she entered the building she was so
terrified that one of our other ladies had to help her calm
down. Another member stood across the street and did not enter
because of fear of physical violence.
service was concluded, the people were split into three groups.
All of the children were clinging to the parents, frightened
to leave the building. Two groups exited out emergency exits.
One group waited, and then exited the main entrance. The people
were shouted at and threatened by the rioters as they made
their way to their cars, being called Christian bigots, hypocrites,
fascists, homophobes, and other expletives, some obscene.
An eight year old retarded girl, upon exiting through the
front entrance was so traumatized upon being verbally accosted,
that she fell down the steps.
speaker was escorted by police to the church van, as debris
pelted him from the rioters. Following his departure the rioters
began to depart and the riot police were dismissed. The rioters
shouted at the police, "You won't be here all night,
but the church (building) will be." Only two or three
police officers remained to secure the building. Dr. Innes,
Rev Eugene Lumpkin, and the church's associate Pastor with
his wife and children remained inside. When this became known
to the rioters, they returned in force to the church and began
pounding on the front doors. The situation was once again
out of control and Dr. Innes called 911 for reinforcements.
When the rioters saw children standing in the lobby, they
shouted, "We want your children. Give us your children."
The police asked us to move away from the entry. Dr. Innes,
his associate and family left through another exit. A nine
year old boy, was crying in hysterics, "They are after
me. It's me they want." He did not calm down until the
family was several miles from the building.
broke one of the large address numbers off the face of the
building and attempted to remove others unsuccessfully. A
citizen's arrest was made on this individual. The person making
the citizen's arrest was verbally threatened by other rioters.
told us they were informed by the rioters that our meeting
was an open, public meeting, and they did not intend to prohibit
the entry of the rioters onto our property. The pastor, Dr.
Innes, informed the officers that this was a regularly scheduled
church worship service and was not, as such, an open, public
meeting, in the secular sense. He further informed the officers
that no public notice had been made by the church inviting
the public. The police later insisted that they were bound
by the rioters' claim that this was an open, public meeting
and not a worship service. We were informed by the police,
that due to the city's police regulations and policies, the
police were not allowed to enforce the law regarding the disturbance
of church worship services and the presence of rioters on
church property. Police estimates of the number of rioters
were approximately 75, although actual counts indicated a
number closer to 100.
of all this malicious disruption, not a single arrest was
made by the police outside of one citizen's arrest. The church's
property was not secured, and the fundamental rights of the
worshippers were not protected because, we were told, "The
Board of Supervisors would never support the measures necessary
to do so."
for the final time, several of the rioters said, "We
will be back." Numerous obscene and threatening telephone
calls have been received at the church following the riot.