Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol (SCP), San Diego’s LGBT & inclusive citizens safety organization, today announced the appointment of Sean Redmond as its new Executive Director. The announcement comes as the organization celebrates its 10th anniversary helping keep the streets of San Diego’s Uptown communities safe, secure and comfortable operating as additional eyes and ears for local law enforcement and a visible deterrent for potential criminal behavior.
“By working together and looking out for each other, we can address and resolve problems which will affect lasting change in our community for all to enjoy,” says Redmond. “Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol is community strong, and I’m honored that our Board has entrusted me with helping guide the organization as we strive to reach new heights and achieve new goals in the months and years ahead.”
The newly elected Board of Directors, each whom serve a two-year term, are: President Jay Turner, Vice President Edwin Lohr, Treasurer Karen Stone, Secretary Nestor Lopez, Director of Events Kerrie Stone, Director of Training & Community Affairs Don Mitchell, Member-at-Large Cris Soulia and President-Emeritus Aaron M. Heier, who has been active with the organization as both a patrol volunteer and Board Member since its first year in operation.
In 2006, a group of concerned citizens, led by Bob Lehman, Tom Felkner, Ben Chapman-Gomez and Nicole Murray Ramirez, decided to organize a proactive response to assaults on several gay men that occurred outside of the San Diego Pride Festival grounds. That response was the formation of Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol.
“When we first heard that six gay men had been brutally beaten outside of the Pride Festival, we wanted to help protect our community,” says Bob Lehman, co-founder of SCP. “When that happened 10 years ago, we turned our outrage into action and made something good happen. The San Diego Police Department stood with us from the start, providing incredible assistance. Working together, we became a national model for community policing and citizens’ patrols. I’m so proud of Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol. Whenever our community needs them, they are out there providing an extra set of eyes and ears to keep us safe.”
The name ‘Stonewall’ was taken in honor of those who, in 1969, stood up against violence and brutality saying “We’ve had enough!” and embarked on a series of spontaneous demonstrations that are widely considered the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. Today, SCP is an all-volunteer neighborhood watch patrol operating in the Hillcrest, North Park, University Heights, Normal Heights and Banker’s Hill neighborhoods of San Diego. All SCP volunteers receive specialized training from the San Diego Police Department and work a rotating schedule, patrolling the streets and alleys of these highly diverse areas during peak hours when criminal activity is most concerning.
In addition to patrolling, the organization focuses on crime awareness and crime prevention by distributing safety whistles, crime prevention posters and safety tip cards. SCP volunteers conduct themselves with a ‘hands-off’ approach and do not carry weapons, serving strictly as additional eyes and ears on alert for the San Diego Police Department and affiliated Emergency Response teams.
“Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol has been a role model of community service and caring about our neighborhoods these last 10 years,” says City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, co-founder of SCP. “Every day they make me proud and grateful for their continued service.”
From 2006 to 2010, SCP operated under the umbrella of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) and then became its own all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
“I’m thankful that SCP was able to garner support from many of our local leaders,” says Ben Chapman-Gomez, the organization’s first Executive Director. “From Congresswoman Susan Davis, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and then Mayor Jerry Sanders, to Chiefs Lansdowne, Zimmerman and the Division Captains of SDPD, Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol was – and still is – a respected and reliable organization that many consider a model for success in volunteer safety patrol units.”
SCP is not just out on the streets. Patrol volunteers also help provide a safe environment for a number of community events including San Diego Pride, Nightmare on Normal Street, the GLSEN Awards, Transgender Day of Remembrance and the US Police and Fire Championships, among others. As a non-profit organization, Stonewall Citizens’ Patrol understands the need for engagement and collaboration. Working alongside partner organizations and other local service providers not only fosters rapport, but it also provides a sense of community and togetherness by building bridges and establishing alliances that otherwise would not exist.