A new SoMa billboard depicts London Breed in a revealing dress, feet up on a desk, counting cash, smoking a fattie, and participating in human trafficking. Loon mayoral challenger Ellen Lee Zhou confirms it’s an intentional caricature of the mayor.
You may not even realize that mayor London Breed is up for re-election in two weeks, as her June 2018 victory was technically a special election to replace interim mayor Mark Ferrell, himself a replacement for Breed, who was then an interim stand-in after Ed Lee’s sudden death. The odd schedule has resulted in no one of note challenging the mayor this time around. The only candidate you may have heard of is right-wing perma-candidate Ellen Lee Zhou, whom the Chronicle reports pulled 3.8 percent of first-choice votes in the 2018 race.
Everyone should be outraged at what’s depicted on this billboard. When are we going to overcome these racists depictions of Black people and other communities SF?— Shamann Walton (@shamannwalton) October 20, 2019
London Breed for Mayor! pic.twitter.com/fhy1uJbVBm
This basically uncontested race is finally making the smallest of waves in local media, but for the wrongest of reasons. NBC Bay Area reports that an offensive billboard depicting London Breed in what could be described as spectacularly racist, sexist, and ignorant fashion. As seen at the billboard’s bottom, the ad is indeed “Paid for by Ellen Lee Zhou for Mayor 2019.”
Let’s unpack the depiction of Breed at this Dore and Howard Street billboard, beginning with the sly but obvious inclusion of the word “TITS” on a cash register next to Breed, “accidentally” portrayed as the numerals “7175.” Breed is wearing a split thigh bustier tube dress the likes of which she has never worn in public, feet on her desk, one shoe off and twirling a red pump with her toes. She has a pile of cash in her hand and several more stacks at her desk, and in her other hand a “maybe a cigar, maybe a blunt” that she’s smoking. A thought bubble coming from her head shows concentration camp-style victims being marched off with numbered tags.
The misspelled message “Stop slavery and human trafficing” establishes the allegation that Mayor Breed is somehow involved with the modern-day slave trade.
To Breed’s left, some apparent legislative aide or crony is carrying away a little girl holding a teddy bear, himself carrying a stack of cash as well.
Zhou defended the billboard to KPIX, confirming that it is an intentional caricature of London Breed, while wearing a Trump-style red ballcap (Zhou is on record as a Trump supporter.) “I believe London Breed is racist,” Zhou told KPIX. “Racist against three Caucasian men who is running for mayor because there’s no debate. She refused to have any debate. I am Asian American and there is another Asian American running for mayor. There’s six candidates for the mayor’s position. I believe that London Breed is the most racist in the entire San Francisco.”
Breed campaign spokesperson Maggie Muir said in a statement to the Chronicle, “This blatantly racist and sexist ad has no place in our political discourse or our city. Race-baiting like this is divisive, dangerous and shameful, and must be rejected.”
The Chronicle added that there were multiple denunciations and press conferences this morning in response to the billboard, one with elected officials like assemblyperson David Chiu, plus current and former supervisors Malia Cohen, Aaron Peskin, Sandra Lee Fewer and Matt Haney. A separate press conference condemning the billboard included the NAACP, and various Chinese, Asian Pacific Islander, and Latino social justice organizations. Mayor Breed has always been an absolute expert at the jujutsu of framing normal critiques as racist attacks. But in this case, the mayor benefits from the attack clearly and plainly being racist.
Top image: @shamannwalton via Twitter