Breed orders repeated homeless sweeps, text messages show

Mayor contacts police chief almost daily to demand that homeless be rousted; 'Find these people someplace to go!'

Mayor London Breed routinely texts Police Chief Bill Scott and orders him to clear out homeless encampments, particularly in areas she frequents, public records recently released show.

I have no idea who filed the sunshine request for communications between the chief and the mayor; it’s anonymous but was posted on Muckrock, a site where people share public records.

I have confirmed with SFPD that the records are in fact accurate.

Breed just wants the cops to move homeless people out of her sight.

And it’s been all over Twitter.

The 25 pages of text records cover the period of just two months, July and August 2019. The mayor, it seems, texts the chief almost every day, sometimes several times a day.

And while some of the texts are about police business – reports of homicides, protests, and other activity that is getting news media attention – the bulk are messages from Breed to Scott demanding action on removing homeless people.

In one particularly callous message, Breed states:

“Man sleeping on bench on Hayes St. near Gough. Can someone come asap, I am in the area having lunch.”

A number of the texts involve the 800 block of Market Street, near John’s Grill, a favorite spot of Breed’s. She refers to the area as “our bread and butter,” and repeatedly says that she wants nobody sleeping in that part of Market.

“That’s the one block that needs to be clean!” one text message from the mayor to the chief states.

The records show a series of sweeps were ordered around Union Square in August just before a major Democratic Party event.

The texts appear to directly contradict the Breed Administration’s assertion that they are not conducting any homeless sweeps.

The city isn’t supposed to be doing sweeps — but the mayor keeps ordering them.

There is no indication in any of the text messages that the mayor is concerned about where the homeless people might go once they leave the area she wants swept.

She is persistent: She texted three times to complain about the man sleeping in Hayes Valley, and the chief said he was “sending a team.” A team of police officers to forcibly move a homeless man whose presence was offending the mayor.

A draft general order under consideration by the Police Commission would bar officers from telling homeless people to “move along” when there is nowhere for them to go.

It appears from the texts that the chief spends a considerable amount of time dispatching teams to clear out homeless people at the mayor’s demand.

On August 20, for example, she sent four texts in just one hour calling for police action on Market Street. “The 800 block of Market continues to be a problem,” she tells the chief. “We cannot allow that to continue. Please clear it and stay on top of it.”

A few minutes later she adds, “the north side” (closer to John’s Grill.)

A few minutes later: “The 500 block of Market needs to be cleared as well.”

She follows up: “By the 7-11 area.”

In each case, the chief promises to send officers to clear out the homeless people.

In other text, she writes: “Just drove down Market Street there are a lot of people laying on the sidewalk near the Burger King in particular at Civic Center it’s really dirty and there’s a lot of folks out. Can we please get the area cleaned up at least until I think about Turks (sic) street.”

She states: “No one should be sleeping on the sidewalk in broad daylight.”

At another point she writes: “Please come and get these people laying in the sidewalk on the 800 block of Market. We have tons of people down here shopping and no officers.”

Another: “There should be no homeless people sleeping in the 800 block of Market and that is still happening at 9:30 tonight. Please make sure that block is cleared.”

Another: “I just drove by the 600 block of Ellis between Taylor and Jones and it is an embarrassment! You can’t even walk on that block. Clean it up!”

A few minutes later she tells the chief, who is not part of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive housing, to solve the problem:

“Find somewhere for these people to go!”

Meanwhile, according to Sup. Matt Haney, only 37 percent of the limited number of hotel rooms the city has contracted for are occupied.

You can read all the text messages here. (PDF)