San Francisco mayor apologizes for linking Hondurans to drug dealing

San Francisco Mayor London Breed apologized Thursday for her comments linking Honduran immigrants to the city’s drug trade, which has been condemned by Bay Area Latino organizations and community members.

In clips from the hour-long interview at a live event with public radio station KQED-FM on October 5, shared on social media this week, Breed said a large number of those arrested for fentanyl trafficking were Hondurans.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who come from a certain country — they come from Honduras — and a lot of the people who deal drugs just happen to be of that ethnicity,” she said, fighting back criticism that law enforcement was racist Latinos profiled in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

“This isn’t a ‘race profile,'” Breed said. “We all know it. It’s reality, it’s what you see, it’s what’s out there.”

In her written apology, Breed said that in attempting to explain the situation in the tenderloin, she “failed to discuss, accurately and fully, what is an incredibly complex situation in our city and in Central America.”

“We have significant drug trafficking challenges in the Tenderloin, and those challenges are impacting families who live there, including immigrant Latino families and residents living in fear,” Breed said. “As a proud Sanctuary City, we have an obligation to provide our immigrant families with a safe place to live and thrive. This includes ending open-air drug markets and holding drug dealers accountable, regardless of their ethnicity.”

During the KQED event, Breed was asked how officers would address drug use and the city’s estimated 1,700 overdose deaths since 2020.

The videos circulated as Latino leaders and community members were still grappling with the shock of Los Angeles city leaders’ racist comments toward Blacks and Indigenous people, brought to light in leaked footage a week earlier.

“The comments in LA have also hurt people in the Bay Area,” said Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, executive director of the nonprofit Central American Resource Center in Northern California in San Francisco. “And then when this thing comes up again with the mayor, it’s kind of an added insult to the injury of how our community in California as a whole is feeling.”

Dugan-Cuadra was among the Latino leaders who sat down with Breed this week to urge an apology and convey the community’s disappointment and pain.

She was concerned that Breed’s comments fed the xenophobic narrative of viewing immigrant communities as criminals and drew parallels with former President Trump’s rhetoric. Instead, Dugan-Cuadra urged Breed to focus on solutions and preventive measures that address drug trafficking and the root causes of migration to the United States — like poverty — rather than stepping up law enforcement.

Breed said last month that she would be “less tolerant of all the cops – it destroyed our town”. you and dist atty Brooke Jenkins, Breed’s choice to replace Chesa Boudin after he was recalled, has committed to a more aggressive approach to policing and prosecuting drug trafficking and property crime.

“I think every young person with immigrant status whose only option for survival is in an informal economy is a reflection of our society,” Dugan-Cuadra said. “Young people should have more opportunities to achieve their dreams and not be marginalized and criminalized.”

Dugan-Cuadra also invited Breed to visit Honduras and Central America so she can better understand the violent, impoverished conditions that Hondurans and others are fleeing. She said the mayor was responsive and receptive.

Breed’s apology also included a pledge to support Dugan-Cuadra’s organization, CARECEN SF, which is opening a larger office near the tenderloin. The nonprofit organization provides resources for Latino and immigrant families, including legal assistance and representation in immigration and criminal courts.

“We’re also a city that believes in second chances and gives people opportunities,” Breed said in her apology.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-20/san-francisco-mayor-apologizes-honduran-drug-dealers-comments San Francisco mayor apologizes for linking Hondurans to drug dealing

Alley Einstein

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