The city of San Francisco was having a normal one yesterday. One observer called it a “circus” and that seems entirely fair given what happened. So the story here is that San Francisco’s rate of violent crime is relatively low for a big city but it’s rate of robberies, shoplifting, car break-ins and drug overdoses (268 people have died so far in 2023) have all skyrocketed in recent years. Visitors to the city aren’t likely to be murdered but they are likely to trip over a zombified fentanyl addict while someone else is breaking out their car windows. A lot of people are sick of it.
So yesterday Mayor London Breed was scheduled to hold an outdoor statement/Q&A about cracking down on San Francisco’s infamous open-air drug markets. Before she even got there a Democratic Socialist on the Board of Supervisors spread the word that Breed was going to start having police arrest people for drug use (the horror!):
We have been informed that the Mayor’s Administration is preparing to start arresting people for public drug use. Arresting people for drug addiction is not “moderate” nor “commonsense.” It’s reactionary, cruel, and counterproductive.
— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) May 23, 2023
When Breed arrived at UN Plaza, which has been the scene of an open-air drug market for months, around 2pm there were about 100 people there.
Breed opened her Tuesday remarks by saying she was happy the supervisors called for the special meeting, and signaled that she believes it’s time to take a more forceful approach to drug users, but did not give specifics…
“We have tried over and over again,” Breed said at U.N. Plaza. “And what we are doing is not working. And in fact, our local resources have increased. But it has not dealt with the problem based on the magnitude of what we are experiencing. I run into people day in and day out in the Tenderloin, and they say, ‘London, we would have never been allowed to get away with this stuff back in the day.’ And the fact is, it’s time for a change. We want to get people help, but we will not continue to allow things to just occur as they have been.”
There were definitely some people on hand who supported what Breed was saying.
Maria Ortega, a 57-year-old San Francisco resident who lives in an single room occupancy, told SFGATE she came to the session in support of closing the open-air drug market.
“We know what’s going on in this city. It’s really bad,” Ortega said. “They need to clean these streets. There are too many people OD’ing, and they’re babies.”
When Board President Aaron Peskin, who had called for this special outdoor session, tried to ask Breed if she was willing to set up an emergency operations center, the hecklers started up.
“Will you, as we do in major emergencies, stand up an emergency operations center, involving the police department, the Department of Public Health, Adult Probation, Department of Public Works, and other agencies and direct them to shut down public drug dealing in open air sites such as this one in the next 90 days?” Peskin asked.
But, Breed didn’t get a chance to answer — at least not audibly. When she returned to the podium, a spectator launched into an ear-splitting whistle of the “Star Spangled Banner,” while others started chanting “No more cops” — enough that the mayor turned around and Peskin abruptly pulled the plug on the outdoor meeting, called a recess, and relocated the event to the Board of Supervisors chambers on City Hall’s second floor.
“This is a circus,” someone scoffed. People scattered as city officials headed back around the corner to City Hall.
As Breed and Peskin were heading back inside to continue the meeting without the hecklers, someone picked up a brick and threw it at the podium.
As city officials were preparing to leave, a woman threw a brick in the direction of the podium, striking a Galileo High School student who was with a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps class presenting flags for the meeting. The woman was reportedly accompanied by a man in a trenchcoat and was tackled by someone before being detained by law enforcement.
There’s video of the brick-thrower being chased by a man trying to stop her (2nd clip below).
Here’s video of the woman throwing a brick at UN Plaza in San Francisco following the postponement of a special session of the Board of Supervisors and a Q&A with Mayor London Breed. pic.twitter.com/hlAzWHJvpx
— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) May 24, 2023
It looks like this person tried to run for it but got knocked down by a bystander. No one is saying this person is trans but it sort of looks that way to me.
Protesters in UN Plaza halt Board President Aaron Peskin’s plan to grill Mayor London Breed and demand she take action to close open-air drug markets. After they recessed the supervisors’ meeting early to move inside, someone threw a brick. Video from @thejdmorris on the scene: pic.twitter.com/GlWRQ7xcrB
— Mallory Moench (@mallorymoench) May 23, 2023
Luckily, no one was hurt.
The JROTC student did not sustain any injuries from the brick, which hit her in the foot.
San Francisco Police Department confirmed that 26-year-old Elysia Katet from San Francisco has been arrested and booked into jail for child endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon.
Video of the whole meeting shows it lasted barely 8 minutes before the hecklers made it impossible to continue. Mayor Breed’s brief speech (about 3 minutes) is pretty good. She’s clearly fed up with demand for more resources, noting that the city has already greatly increased resources for a litany of progressive programs. But she said the problems persist which means the spending isn’t working. What’s needed is a new approach.
“At the end of the day, when you know what it feels like to grow up in chaos, you want nothing more than change,” she said. She continued, “You want nothing more than something better for the kids and the next generation of people who are growing up in the midst of this chaos. Why should someone else’s right be put before their needs and their safety and what they deserve too in a place like San Francisco that claims to be so compassionate and liberal? What about them?”
I don’t know if Breed can actually move the progressives in the city (and on the board) but I give her credit for at least trying to fight for some common sense approach to public order in a city that is in dire need of it.