It’s not a shocker that progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin has come out against mayor Breed’s plan to stack the Tenderloin with more law enforcement, but board president Shamann Walton is opposing it too, which could derail the mayor's plan.
San Francisco mayor London Breed seemed to be itching for a fight last week when she promised a sweeping Tenderloin crime crackdown with more police on the streets and arrests of drug users, as she declared defiantly, “What I’m proposing today and what I will be proposing in the future will make a lot of people uncomfortable and I don’t care.” And Breed now has that fight, in news conferences and newspaper headlines at least, as the Chronicle reports District Attorney Chesa Boudin spoke at a news conference Monday declaring his opposition to Breed’s proposed crackdown.
It’s not a surprise that Boudin was joined by his fellow progressive and “restorative justice” fan, public defender Mano Raju. It is a surprise that Board of Supervisors president Shamann Walton also joined Boudin at the press conference to speak out against Breed’s plan, foreshadowing a bigger fight over this than Breed may have expected.
Silent on the matter since Breed’s crackdown announcement last Wednesday, today Boudin said that, “arresting people who are addicted to drugs, jailing people who have mental health struggles, putting folks who are vending hot dogs or other food on the streets in cages will not solve these problems, and they are certainly not the only tools available,” he said.
The “putting folks who are vending hot dogs or other food on the streets in cages” line is timely, as Breed ordered a crackdown on bacon-wrapped hot dog carts in Union Square this past weekend.
Boudin also leaned on his old line that he’s actually prosecuting more cases than George Gascón or Suzy Loftus, so there’s surely some recall messaging in the mix too. He declared his office has been “prosecuting drug sales and possession with intent to sell at higher rates than my predecessor in 2018 and 2019. We plan to continue enforcing the law, to continue to use our resources to hold people who violate the law accountable. And I also plan to continue to demand in partnership with all these other elected leaders, that we do what we know will work, and stop dumping resources into failed strategies.”
Walton spoke out against the enhanced law enforcement presence too, saying the board did not want Breed to “increase law enforcement budgets here in San Francisco and arrest people who use drugs when we currently don’t have adequate resources to address their needs.”
There’s plenty that Breed can do by executive decree, and without the support of Boudin, or the board of supervisors, or anyone. But the state of emergency declaration Breed wants for the Tenderloin will require board of supervisors approval. Walton said Monday he hadn’t decided how he’s going to vote on that (the board meets to discuss it Thursday afternoon), but he indicated today he’s more than willing to push back on Breed on law enforcement crackdowns.
Screenshot: San Francisco District Attorney's Office via Youtube