I might have a new political hero: San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
The once fiery liberal mayor is now sounding like a law and order hardliner. After the George Floyd murder she came out for defunding the police. Now, after a couple of years of rising murder and crime rates, smash and grab flash mobs, open air drug dealing and homelessness that has gotten out of hand, she’s getting — not so much tough, as sensible.
Breed is introducing a budget amendment to add cops, increase police overtime and bolster the city’s police academy. She’s also supporting moves to enforce felony warrants (i.e., get the bad guys off the streets), add lighting and to pay more attention to quality of life issues, like garbage collection. The other day she went so far as to declare a state of emergency in the city’s notorious Tenderloin District.
This is so significant nationally because Breed is a Democrat who is finally taking crime seriously, instead of trying to just explain it away. “The data doesn’t matter when somebody randomly walks up to you who is on crystal meth and socks you in the face and puts you in the hospital,” she said. “The data doesn’t matter when you are here in San Francisco on vacation and all your belongings were stolen because someone broke into a car right in front of you. At the end of the day, people need to feel safe in this city.”
May all Democrats get her memo.
And Breed is also pushing back against some woke excesses. She is supporting the recalls of three San Francisco School Board members who voted to rename more than 40 schools (one named for that horrible racist Abraham Lincoln) while they showed no sense of urgency about actually opening any of them to in-person instruction. Hard-left District Attorney Chesa Boudin is also the subject of a recall.
Breed may simply be a good politician, but that would be even better because it would mean that she can feel the political winds — even in this far left city on the far left coast — blowing in a different direction. She may be getting the message that the liberal approach to crime and disorder is being rejected even by liberals.
This much is true. If you can’t get the basics right — keep crime in check, keep the streets clean, get the homeless into housing — then there will be little public support for anything else you want to do that might be progressive.
Which brings us to our own liberal Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. Things here aren’t nearly as bad as they are in San Francisco, but credit Rhodes-Conway for adding eight cops in her last budget and for overseeing a promising city plan to get homeless folks out of city parks and off city streets just in time for winter.
One issue she has not led on, though, is police body cameras. Body cams have long been supported by this police chief and the previous one, by the police union and by the NAACP, among many other groups and individuals. But the cameras have been opposed by a fraction of the population represented by hard-left groups like Freedom, Inc. That organization’s director, M. Adams, says flatly that cameras, “won’t give us what we want.”
Here’s what I think she means by that. Take the current case of former officer Kim Potter. The veteran suburban Minneapolis cop is now on trial for manslaughter, but her body cam clearly shows that she made a horrible mistake when she grabbed her gun instead of her taser. She has already lost her job and she and the city of Brooklyn Center will be subject to civil lawsuits. My guess is that the jury in the criminal case is likely not to convict her, in part because the body cam footage is so clear and compelling. She had no bad intent and she expressed immediate remorse. She is no Derek Chauvin.
And that’s a problem for Freedom, Inc. They fear that too often body cams will show cops doing the right thing — or making honest mistakes — and the bad guys being, well, bad, instead of cooperating with their narrative of bad cops and good victims. Freedom, Inc.. doesn’t want the truth; they want to tell their own story.
And our mayor is not standing up to them. She takes no position on body cameras. Now, don’t get me wrong. I probably took too many positions in my time in her job. There’s a lot to be said for picking your spots and spending your political capital wisely. But body cams is just too important an issue for the mayor to sit on the sidelines. If she agrees with M. Adams, well, I think that would be wrong, but at least she would be taking a stand.
The better idea is to follow London Breed’s lead. Stand up for law and order and common sense. Realize that even a liberal constituency wants to feel safe and does not like disorder. Realize that being against crime is not being for racism, for cryin’ out loud. Divorce yourself from the slim minority of hard-left activists — and probably get reelected.
Welcome to the 302nd consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Have a good weekend, and thanks for reading!