A week after he denied doing any such thing, longtime SF civil rights leader Rev. Amos Brown issued a formal apology for intimidating an SF restaurant owner and rapper who made a diss track and video about Mayor London Breed.
There's been a weeks-long, minor-sized, San Francisco-style drama unfolding over a rap video by a not-well-known local rap artist that would have likely gained little traction had the mayor's office and its PR folk not gone hog-wild trying to get the rapper to apologize for it. The attention brought to the apology and its subsequent aftermath has had a Streisand effect on the whole thing, drawing lots more attention and views to the video, and essentially defeating the original PR purpose — the video, "San Francisco Is Our Home" by Chino Yang, remains live on YouTube and has now has nearly 60,000 views.
In the video, Yang (who goes by Andy), who owns Kung Food restaurant in NoPa, raps that his restaurant was broken into seven times by "punk-ass tweakers," and says "throw your middle fingers up toward the mayor" for allowing the city to become a "zombie land." It also refers to "phony-ass liberal[s]" who "never treated us as equal."
Whether or not the mayor should be blamed for the petty crime that has plagued the city in recent years, that is just something that inevitably happens in any city — the mayor is the one in charge, and people want someone to blame.
But a PR onslaught followed the appearance of the video that was perhaps outsized, given its potential reach — and this shows how sensitive the mayor and her team are to criticism in this election year, especially, perhaps, among Asian voters in the city.
That onslaught reportedly included a personal visit to Yang by one-time SF supervisor and local NAACP chapter president Amos Brown, whose Third Baptist Church is just down the street from Kung Food. As we learned last week, Yang's subsequent apology video, posted to and since removed from Instagram, was done under duress, he said, by "someone extremely powerful," and that person was later revealed by the Asian Justice Movement to be the Reverend Amos Brown.
Brown denied last week that he had threatened or intimidated Yang, telling the Chronicle, "It’s a lie. Nobody threatened him, and if he was threatened … he would have called the Police Department, the U.S. Marshal or the FBI."
But Brown backed down somewhat from that denial in the intervening days, and as the Chronicle now reports, the 82-year-old Reverend has now issued his own apology for forcing Yang's apology.
"Even though it is not my intention, I acknowledge the words that I used could be interpreted as intimidating and silencing," Brown writes. "What happened was unfortunate. But we understand each other now."
The apology note goes on to mention that Third Baptist Church has suffered break-ins of its own, but that such crime shouldn't be blamed on the mayor.
"We are committed to working together in a constructive way to stop crime activities in Mr. Yang’s business, our church and our joint neighborhoods, as well as a responsible program to end homelessness in San Francisco and the Bay Area," Reverend Brown writes.
The mayor's advisors are likely taking this as a cautionary tale about choosing battles, and the wisdom of trying to silence critics.
"From my perspective, the lesson is a universal one, which is that Asians are no different from any American that has a civil right to express their political viewpoints," says Charles Jung, an attorney for Asian Justice Movement, speaking to the Chronicle.