Law/Justice

San Francisco Mayor Declares State of Emergency to Fight City’s ‘Nasty Streets’

Thomas FullerShaila Dewan and  New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — The mayor of San Francisco on Friday made a sharp break with the liberal conventions that have guided her city for decades, declaring a state of emergency in one of its most crime-infested neighborhoods.

Mayor London Breed’s announcement came just days after she emphasized the need for the police to clean up what she has described as “nasty streets.” At a news conference at City Hall, steps away from where drug dealers openly peddle fentanyl and methamphetamines, she said, “We are in a crisis and we need to respond accordingly.” She added, “Too many people are dying in this city, too many people are sprawled on our streets.”

The neighborhood, the Tenderloin, has been ground zero for drug dealing, overdose deaths and homelessness for years. But Ms. Breed said in an interview that she reached her “breaking point” in recent weeks after meeting with families with children who live in the Tenderloin and said they felt constantly threatened.

Her actions and startlingly blunt language were a marked change in tone and policy in a city that has been polarized over homeless encampments and open-air drug use. Elected as a liberal Democrat, she spoke this week about “a reign of criminals,” trash strewn across neighborhoods full of “feces and urine,” and shoplifting at high-end stores that she called “mass looting events.”

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