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How Many More Women ...?
Update on Joyce Tempongko

Unwanted, for Accessory to Murder in the death of Claire Joyce Tm\empongkoOne of the domestic violence civil rights cases poised to stand on the shoulders of the Macias victory is that of Claire Joyce Tempongko.

Joyce was stabbed to death in front of her two young children by her ex-boyfriend Tari Ramirez on October 22, 2000 in San Francisco.

Purple Berets did the initial investigation into this case, showing repeated failures by San Francisco Police and D.A. Terrence Hallinan's office to follow the law and their own written policies on domestic violence. The result of those failures, as in Macias, was that Ramirez remained out of custody and free to murder Joyce, despite her numerous calls for protection.

Tempongko family attorney Khaldoun Baghdadi filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Joyce's mother, Clara, and her two children, citing 14th Amendment equal protection and due process claims similar to the Macias claims. The case, assigned to federal District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong, is currently in the discovery phase.

And on the Political Front ...
In March of this year, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) called a news conference to release the results of the City Attorney's investigation into Tempongko. The investigation had been launched nearly a year before with much fanfare on the part of Mayor Willie Brown and the women's commission. At that time, Purple Berets begged them to do a real investigation and not to "front" for a law enforcement cover-up.

Obviously our pleas fell on deaf ears. Imagine our surprise when the March press conference was opened with the announcement that the report would not be released!

Once we got a copy of the report, we saw why. The City Attorney's investigation was as good as ours, detailing call-by-call how the police, district attorney and probation department botched the Tempongko case and contributed to her death. Clearly the CSW was unwilling to stand on stage with the mayor and have press asking embarrassing questions about the revelations of the misconduct of city officials. (The report was later quietly released without a whisper in the press.)

Equally despicable, Joyce Tempongko's mother, Clara, had been invited to speak at the press conference. Though she waited in the wings throughout the conference, she was never brought on stage, again apparently because she might say something to embarrass the mayor.

So when a month later the commission held a meeting to discuss the results of the investigation, Purple Berets showed up with a detailed analysis of the report, including changes that must be made. Chief among them is the need for independent victim advocates whose jobs are not at the whim of local police and district attorneys.

Again we were surprised to find that, other than V.P. Dorka Keehn who had engineered the cover-up, all the commission members in the room supported our analysis and recommendations, seemed shocked at their leadership's duplicity, and advocated launching Purple Berets-style actions to ensure that law enforcement does their jobs!

It's yet another lesson in the utter lack of integrity or accountability on the part of the leadership in many of those agencies and commissions supposedly dedicated to women's rights. These well-paid "professionals" daily put maintaining cozy relationships with cops and elected officials above the desperate need of the women they're supposed to represent. They should be ousted.

(NOTE: In our last newsletter we promised an expose of exactly this type of behavior in Sonoma County. We had too much to report on to include it in this newsletter, but stay tuned!)

January 2003


© Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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