San Francisco mayoral candidate refuses to take down billboard many say is offensive, racist

San Francisco mayoral candidate Ellen Lee Zhou refused to take down a billboard on Monday, despite being publicly denounced by several San Francisco leaders and community groups that her message is racist and offensive. 

"This is a campain ad," Zhou said Monday morning while standing on the street corner near her billboard on a side street off Harrison between 9th and 10th streets. "It's called freedom of speech. This is America." 

Zhou, a Republican running for mayor in the left-leaning city against incumbent London Breed, remained steadfast, even as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP, the Latino Democrats and supervisors spoke at a news conference denouncing the billboard.

In this cartoon image, San Francisco Mayor London Breed is seen holding a stack of money that many find offensive.

Zhou's main beef is the homelessness and drugs that run rampant in the city and she attacked Breed for raking in what she says is a large salary and doing nothing to stop these problems. Her argument meandered when asked about human trafficking and her record on what she's done to solve these issues. 

The billboard shows a cartoon depiction of a woman kicking back at a desk, with a cigarette and wad of cash in her hand. The billboard also says, “Stop slavery and human trafficking in San Francsico,”  with the image of a child appearing to be kidnapped. Zhou confirmed in the interview that the woman is Breed.

"This is very upsetting," said former San Francisco Board of Supervisor Malia Cohen. Far too often, Cohen said, "African-American women are oversexualized" and far too often, Blacks of both genders are seen holding stacks of money and spending it frivolously." 

Breed said that the billboard speaks for itself. 

"My policies can be criticized," Breed said, "without making them personal."