By the time critics of Mayor Ed Lee gathered in front of City Hall to advocate for a recall campaign against him last Friday, 300 hundred or more counter-protesters had lined up across from the building's steps to show solidarity with Lee. KRON 4 reports that the counter-effort was organized by members of AsianAmericanVoters.org, and the majority of its participants appear to have been Chinese Americans holding signs in Chinese, sometimes shouting Cantonese slogans and singing "The Star Spangled Banner." Chinatown power broker Rose Pak, who is back on the scene after recuperating in China from an illness, appears to have had a part in organizing the counter rally.
Despite the wall of opposition, on the recall side, spokesperson Yayne Abebe registered her disappointment with the mayor's work. “This city has always been a city of opportunity for everybody. People came here from all over America to find opportunity for themselves. Now there is no opportunity because of the policies of Mayor Ed Lee," she said.
In one mysterious and rather suspicious incident, Chronicle writer C.W. Nevius draws attention to a lone, supposedly recall-aligned protestor who shouted anti-Chinese slurs and hate speech. "It didn’t take long for the 'Recall Mayor Ed Lee 2016' effort to turn ugly," he wrote on his SFGate blog."The small, fringe group filed papers last Tuesday to announce their intention to collect enough signatures to put the recall on a special election ballot."
The below video shows that incident and was posted by the Stop the Wasteful Recall Coalition, a group supported by Pak. It came complete with a statement quoting from former Supervisor and current State Assemblyman David Chiu. It was “shocking and deeply offensive to hear such openly hateful language used against Chinese Americans — and on the steps of San Francisco City Hall of all places,” he reportedly said.
SFWeekly greets the video with more skepticism than Nevius. "We smell political maneuvering at work here," they suggest. Other supporters of the recall effort have denounced the heckler's words, and in the video, she doesn't appear to be at or even near the microphone from which other speakers addressed the mayor. There are, it should be noted, some troubling and similarly xenophobic or racist images and remarks on the recall efforts' Facebook page. Those include a Photoshopped image of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator who died in 2011, as "Kim Jung Lee."
"I am proud that we've elected a Chinese-American Mayor," one more clearly sanctioned Asian American speaker can be heard saying during the protest in an extended video also posted to YouTube. "I just question whether uncle Ed is the right Chinese-American mayor whether he's the right mayor for Chinese Americans in San Francisco, for any of us. He might be the right one for Airbnb and Ron Conway and Twitter."
At least one elected official, Supervisor Scott Wiener, was present on the side of the counter-recall. "A majority of San Franciscans elected Ed Lee mayor of San Francisco," KRON 4 quotes Wiener as saying. "People have every right to agree or disagree with that result, but he is our elected mayor... This recall is destructive; there is no reason for it. We need to be all working together as a city to address our problems with housing and homelessness and transportation and trying to recall the mayor isn’t going to solve any of those problems.”