San Francisco’s politicians are struggling to find a Goldilocks balance when it comes to public safety, and Democrats across the nation should pay attention. After declaring a state of emergency in the Tenderloin neighborhood to deal with what she called a public health crisis of opioid use, Mayor London Breed has been criticized for taking too strong a hand in forcing people to seek treatment for drugs or mental health problems. Meanwhile, the city’s district attorney, Chesa Boudin has been accused of being soft on crime and faces a recall in June. No one is “just right” on the balance between public safety and overpolicing, and that’s why law and order may be emerging as a wedge issue for Democrats, like critical race theory was in the Virginia gubernatorial race.
In this conversation with Kara, Breed talks about the crackdown she’s leading and whether she was ever the “defund the police” mayor some in the media painted her to be (and critiqued her for stepping away from). Breed says her experience growing up in a public housing development in the Western Addition neighborhood gives her a perspective many of her critics may not have. “They have a theory as to what they believe based on their ideology, but they’re also white,” she says. “They are not Black people who had these unfortunately traumatizing experiences in communities where there’s not trust with the police, but also there’s a desire to be safe.”
They also discuss the flight of tech money out of San Francisco, Breed’s Covid response strategy and how Black mayors like Breed, Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta and Lori Lightfoot of Chicago are “held to a completely different standard.” And Kara asks whether Breed wants to run for a third term — or even a senate seat.
You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.
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