After mass shootings, Republican critiques, San Francisco mayor devoted to defending city

Mayor London Breed remained steadfast in her defense of San Francisco on Wednesday, brushing off recent criticism from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and staying committed to her policies that she believes will chart the city in a new and more positive direction.

In a one-on-one with KTVU, Breed said DeSantis is using the "oldest playbook in politics to get attention," and announced that over 400 people have been arrested for drug dealing and 58 have been arrested for public intoxication by San Francisco police since the beginning of the year in the Tenderloin and South of Market area alone.

The spike in arrests is a part of a collaboration between city, state and federal officials to combat widespread drug problems.

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"About 28% of those people have outstanding warrants and only 8% of those folks are from San Francisco," Breed told KTVU. "So we got a lot of work to do. The CHP, the police department and others are being as aggressive as we can to get control of this very challenging issue."

Breed shared her own experience walking through SoMa, saying that some residents expressed gratitude for the ongoing efforts to clean up the neighborhood. However, she acknowledged that there is still a long way to go in completely transforming the area.

On Wednesday, Florida Governor and 2024 Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis shared a video on Twitter in which he criticized San Francisco and the "leftist policies" of the city’s leadership.

"We saw people defecating on the street, we saw people using heroin, we saw people smoking crack cocaine," DeSantis said in the video. "And you look around, the city is not vibrant anymore, it’s really collapsed due to leftist policies."

Breed said DeSantis’ comments are from the "oldest playbook in politics" and said they’re lacking any sort of solution.

"Unfortunately, in politics the old playbook of focusing on the negative and targeting places like San Francisco have been unfortunately the norm, so we need to turn that around," Breed said.

Although she wasn’t able to meet with President Joe Biden during his recent trip to the Bay Area, Breed said his administration has been great to work with combating San Francisco’s drug epidemic.

"The Drug Enforcement Agency, the US Attorney’s office and other agencies are actively engaged in conversations to assist us in dealing with the problems related to some of the challenges we are having around the open-air drug dealing," Breed said.

Breed said she has also been working with the Biden administration on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November, San Francisco was chosen as the host city for the upcoming event.

"This is one of the biggest international events that we are going to be experiencing, and so [Biden] is well aware, we are working closely together to deal with these challenges, and my hope is that people will start to see and feel a difference in the coming months," Breed added. 

As the city gears up for one of the country’s largest Pride celebrations, concerns about public safety have come to the forefront after two mass shooting incidents -- one in the Mission District where nine people were wounded, and another near Pier 39 where six people were wounded, including four innocent bystanders.

However, Breed said the Pier 39 incident is still under investigation and it is uncertain how many of the wounded were actually innocent bystanders.

"This is still under investigation," Breed said. "All the parties involved in this were not necessarily arrested, only one individual was so far."

Breed also downplayed the criticism that San Francisco is experiencing a spike in crime that outpaces what other cities experience. 

"At the end of the day, what we want to say to people is this is a major city, and major cities, like New York and other places, we have challenges with crime," Breed said. "When we look at the data in comparison to other places, it’s not as significant as most people think, it’s just all eyes are on San Francisco."

Breed said police will have a larger presence in the Mission, Tenderloin and other high-crime areas that have had recent mass shootings. 

"For Pride in particular it won’t just be the police, there’ll also be private security and other undercover security," she said. "We’re going to have the whole city and the areas where we know people are going to celebrate the most covered. Our plan is to make sure people have a joyous, safe and exciting Pride this weekend."