Glide Pride: SFPD Reform

Before the Rev. Cecil Williams was the pastor of Glide Church (1966), he served as one of many pastors at Glide working on ministry throughout the city of San Francisco.  In 1963, Rev. Cecil’s role was centered in community outreach and creating connections with other organizations.  One of the first groups he established connections with was the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD).  The pastors at Glide regularly participated in civil disobedience actions that involved getting arrested.  Rev. Cecil would coordinate with the SFPD prior to the arrests to seek as many concessions for the protesters as possible in advance.

Photo of the Rev. Cecil Williams being arrested on April 11, 1964 at the Cadilac Auto-Row protests and sit-ins on Van Ness Ave.  Photo courtesy of the Glide Archive.  You can watch a video of the protest and arrests here.

Rev. Cecil had informed the SFPD about the dance at California Hall and despite assurances that the police would not disrupt the event, there were arrests anyway.  The arrests, lawsuit and advocacy of Glide Pastors and the Council on Religion and the Homosexual propelled Glide into the public spotlight as leaders in the movement to reform the SFPD. In response they created Citizen’s Alert, an organization that reported police brutality against LGBTQ individuals.  Citizen’s Alert grew out of the work of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual.  Located at Glide, the group had a 24 hour hotline that supported individuals who had been beaten up by the police.  This advocacy work continues at Glide through the present.

Read a first had account from Dorr Jones about what it was like to gather at Glide and work for reforms in the SFPD in the Bay Area Reporter article below.  Click on the article below to read it in a way that will allow you to adjust the size of the image.

Bay Area Reporter, Volume 24, Number 24, 16 June 1994. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

1965 The CRH Lobbies for a Civilian Police Review Board

Courtesy of the Glide Archive

1966 Citizens Alert

Vanguard Magazine 1:2  Courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society

Courtesy of the ONE Archives of the USC Libraries, SFPD Source Files

1967 Mayoral Candidates Forum Response to Huckleberry House Arrests

Glide was given a house by the city of San Francisco to begin caring for homeless youth who runaway or were thrownaway by their families.  This house, called the Huckleberry House was an important turning point in homeless services in San Francisco, because at the time it was against the law to shelter minors.  Despite working in cooperation with the city and the SFPD on plans to open the space, police raided the house anyway.  The arrests dramatized some of the bias in San Francisco that Glide was lobbying to change.  The article below records promises made by mayoral candidates about how they proposed solving the problems if they were elected.

Courtesy of the Glide Archive

1968 SFPD Stops Arresting People for “Homosexual Acts in Private”

The article below, which seems to be both news and satire, describes the changing attitudes of the police in San Francisco through the lens of the history of the Society for Individual Rights (SIR).  Glide pastors supported the organization and hosted the dances mentioned in the article.  This article shines a light on the differences in how the police treated those living on the streets comparted to gay business men.

Berkeley Barb, Jul. 26, 1968 – Aug. 1, 1968

Trigger warning: Please note that there are a number of terms in this article that may be considered offensive.  It is shared here for historical purposes to help people understand some of the dynamics that people faced.  Please skip this article if you are concerned that it may be difficult to read.  The article is about the Hospitality House, which was a program created by Glide.

1970 Arrests at Hospitality House

Courtesy of the ONE Archives of the USC Libraries, SFPD Source Files

1974 LGBTQ Cultural Awareness at the SFPD Academy Classes

Glide’s regularly invited members of the SFPD to their educational efforts to promote positive sexuality education and worked with Sargent Elliott Blacktone, who was the first LGBTQ Liason appointed by the SFPD.  Sgt Blackstone’s work with the transgender community is include in the section about Conversion Our Goal.  Here, we are featuring articles that talk about the work done to provide cultural training about the LGBTQ community.

Courtesy of the ONE Archives of the USC Libraries, SFPD Source Files

Documents courtesy of the ONE Archives of the USC Libraries, San Francisco Police Department Training Source File

1974 Mass Arrests of Gay Individuals

Leadership changes in the SFPD brought changes in policing towards the LGBTQ community.  Glide and its partner organizations created community forums and lobbied for change when the SFPD policed the LGBTQ community, or ignored those who were harming the LGBTQ community.  The article below is an an example of this lobbying.

2020 George Floyd Memorial 9.29

2022 Lobbying to End Pretext Stops in San Francisco

2023 Conversation about Policing in Oakland

If this exhibit has inspired you to learn more about Glide Pride, you can connect here.

If this exhibit has inspired you to help support Glide Pride for the next 60’s you can make a donation here.