Gobs of Mayor London Breed’s text messages were posted online Monday, and they display some serious micromanaging of SFPD’s homeless sweeps.
San Francisco mayor London Breed turned up in another big national media profile on Monday, in this case a longform New Yorker read about how this city is handling the homelessness crisis amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a pretty informative and exhaustive piece in which Breed is not mentioned until halfway through, but it will likely be remembered for her quote to author Nathan Heller that “We don’t do sweeps.” Those words are likely to haunt her for at least a news cycle or so, because on the very same day, an anonymous journalist published a ton of Breed’s text messages obtained through a Sunshine Ordinance request. The messages have been shared pretty prominently on Journalist Twitter for the last 24 hours, but Mission Local was the first outlet to verify and publish Breed’s texts ordering homeless sweeps, which show Breed regularly texted SFPD chief Bill Scott to order sweeps of specific people and tents at precise locations.
Breed’s published texts don’t use the word “sweep” much, but she does use other regrettable phrases like “Going to UN plaza from McAllister walk way is a shit show!,” “You can’t even walk on that block. Clean it up!,” and “Please get the panhandlers off the mediums on haight and Octavia.” But the real gem that Mission Local dug out, which may endure as a meme all the way until the 2023 mayoral election, is Breed’s response when Chief Scott informs her that one of his officers has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Dang, does he use my gym?,” Breed responded.
Here's a bunch of texts SF Mayor @LondonBreed sent to the chief of police personally telling him to conduct homeless sweeps to cater to businesses, and seemingly because she didn't want to see them while eating lunch? Full text dump here: https://t.co/tQA53XsUpR pic.twitter.com/LCabFO7efD— HDizz (@dizz_h) May 25, 2020
The immediate question that comes up is the validity of these texts. They are posted by an anonymous Twitter user called HDizz, but that account has existed for more than seven years, and is pretty active about advocating for the unsheltered population. Further, HDizz/”Anonymous” has published the full paper trail of public record request correspondence with SFPD, which involved at least one appeal in April, and whose correspondences curiously come from the address of a UPS Store in Somerville, Massachusetts. Most tellingly, Breed’s office did not deny the texts’ validity when Mission Local asked for comment, and former “Homelessness Czar” Jeff Kositsky confirmed to Mission Local that he’d been on the receiving end of some of the same texts.
UPDATE: several of the Mayor's personal requests were to sweep the 800 block of Market where a political donor's business resides: https://t.co/TIVMyWVzVP— HDizz (@dizz_h) May 25, 2020
Among the juiciest revelations is that John Konstin, owner of political power broker steakhouse John’s Grill and a longtime Breed donor, was able to email Breed and get people experiencing homelessness removed from the block on which his restaurant sits. “Let’s keep that block safe and clean,” Breed texted Chief Scott, “It is our bread and butter.”
In 2017 two businessmen in SF asked Mayor @LondonBreed to remove an unhoused woman from sight and she told @MrCleanSF and @JeffKositsky to do it. This is what the city thinks of our unhoused neighbors. https://t.co/SxOIWiyyhs pic.twitter.com/oiPL3G9gaw— HDizz (@dizz_h) May 25, 2020
In the email above we also have a cameo from Mohammed Nuru, the former DPW director who was of course the target of the FBI corruption probe that keeps on giving, and Breed’s one-time romantic partner. Nuru turns up in an email chain where Konstin asked that a particular unhoused woman be cleared away from a friend’s insurance office on Noriega Street because they were “expecting a visit from an insurance company from Spain.”
There is nothing technically illegal seen in any of these texts dumped, and hey, any of us would be embarrassed to have our personal text messages published. But these messages were ostensibly sent on taxpayer-funded phones, so it’s fair game, and Breed is still dogged by the controversy of the homeless still not in hotels issue. Many of these texts were sent during the pandemic, but their tone harkens back to the days of 2013 when Breed was still the District 5 supe and SFist dubbed her “the Amanda Bynes Of S.F. Supervisors.”
Image: “Guest” via imgbb