SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco’s mayoral race took a nasty turn over the weekend during a candidate forum which was disrupted by protesters hurling racial slurs.
The event was a joint appearance by Supervisors Jane Kim and Mark Leno in the city’s Fillmore District. As Kim was speaking, a group of people shouted down the Asian American candidate, at one point calling her a “skinny-ass rice-eating m—–f—–“
Other members of the group shouted that whites should “get out of the neighborhood” and demanded to know why African American Supervisor London Breed wasn’t at the event being held in Breed’s District 5.
Event organizer Agonafer Shiferaw said it appeared to have been pre-planned. “It was a very racist. Very xenophobic, homophobic,” said Shiferaw. “Also very dangerous. It could have gotten completely out of hand.”
But Hugh E MC with the New Community Leadership Foundation, which showed up to raise questions about both Kim and Leno’s commitment to the Fillmore said the outburst wasn’t planned. The group did put out a press release asking Breed’s supporters to “gather peacefully outside the venue at 12:45pm to voice concerns regarding the motives of Mark Leno and Jane Kim.”
“People are tired of politicians promising them things, but with no follow up,” said E MC. “It’s kind of like somebody poked a bear, or like somebody lighted a match next to a firecracker.”
Once known as the Harlem of the west, San Francisco’s Fillmore District is now undergoing both gentrification and displacement, and it is taking its toll.
“There have been 14 businesses that have closed,” said Shiferaw.
“I can’t say that race was involved, but then I can’t say that it wasn’t,” said E MC. “Because when you have these factors of class and race there is a tension there.”
Whatever the reason, candidate Breed was quick to condemn the outburst.
“I don’t condone racial slurs or divisiveness,” said Breed. “Sad to say the same thing has happened to me throughout the course of this campaign. It definitely doesn’t feel good.”
As for Kim who was shouted down? “What was unfortunate about the incident was that ethnic slurs were used, not just against me,” said Kim. She issued a statement saying she did not take the comments personally and noting that “Race and gender are inextricably linked to poverty, economic insecurity and access to quality housing, education and even justice itself.”