SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A mayoral campaign billboard in San Francisco’s SoMa district is sparking controversy for its depiction of incumbent mayor London Breed.

The billboard depicts a black woman in a red dress and heels with her feet up, holding a cigarette in one hand and a stack of money in the other. The message “Stop slavery and human trafficing [sic] in SF” is visible.

Shown in a thought bubble coming from the woman are lines of individuals with numbers tagged around their necks. A man in a suit is also seen carrying away a young girl holding a teddy bear–the man is holding a stack of money as well.

The controversial billboard sponsored by the Zhou campaign in the SoMa district (Facebook/Supervisor Shamann Walton)

A message at the bottom of the signage says it was sponsored by the Ellen Lee Zhou For Mayor campaign. Zhou is one of a handful of people opposing Mayor Breed in her re-election bid and is the only Republican in the race. Zhou drives around the city in a pickup truck plastered in campaign posters, blaring “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“I believe London Breed is racist. Racist against three Caucasian men who is running for mayor because there’s no debate. She refused to have any debate. I am Asian American and there is another Asian American running for mayor. There’s six candidates for the mayor’s position. I believe that London Breed is the most racist in the entire San Francisco,” Zhou told KPIX 5.

After being asked to describe the billboard in her own words, Zhou had no qualms confirming the woman depicted on the ad is indeed Breed.

“Well, if you look at the picture, London Breed is counting the money–that’s her paycheck. The mayor makes $350,000 a year while people are dying on the streets–they have to pick their dead bodies up. A mayor getting a big fat raise while people are dying,” Zhou said.

The billboard has been denounced as racist by many in the city’s political community.

San Francisco supervisor Shamann Walton of District 11 took to social media to condemn the billboard.

“Everyone should be outraged at what’s depicted on this billboard. When are we going to overcome these racist depictions of black people and other communities in SF?”

“It’s disgusting. Those are the types of things that make me cry,” said Walton.

Maggie Muir of Breed’s re-election team released a statement Sunday saying, “This blatantly racist and sexist ad has no place in our political discourse or our city. Race-baiting like this is divisive, dangerous and shameful, and must be rejected.”

Some of the city’s elected leaders will speak at a press conference regarding the billboard on Monday at 10 a.m.

Communities of color are also joining together on Monday at 11 a.m. to denounce the billboard. Representatives from the Chinese, Asian Pacific Islander, African American and Latino communities will speak.

Comments (4)
  1. At risk of admonishment of others…. racist or misguided? Anytime sweeping claims of racism are applied to anything I am incredulous. Even an honest mistake these days can be a cause of upheaval.

    No, I am not necessarily attributing motives of the campaign staff that put up the billboard. Rather, playing devils advocate.