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News + PoliticsAbout those political 'protests' ...

About those political ‘protests’ …

The events against Peskin and Chan were mostly paid hacks, allies of the mayor, and people who don't live in the districts.


A very small number of people showed up to answer Tech Mogul Garry Tan’s call for a mass protest of the Peskin for Mayor kickoff. The media generously said as many as 30; I counted 15. Either way, pretty small turnout from Tan’s massive Twitter following (and he wasn’t there, either).

So who was running the “protest?” The person leading the chants was Jade Tu, former community program leader for TogetherSF, a right-wing billionaire-funded group. She is now the campaign manager for Mark Farrell, who is also running for mayor.

It’s not clear that the people protesting a Connie Chan event even live in her district.

As Peskin points out in a fascinating tweet, TogetherSF’s chief communications officer, Margeaux Kelly, was there; Jay Cheng, who is paid by Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, a group linked to and funded by many of the same donors, was there.

In other words, as one political observer told me, it was less a grassroots protest that “a collection of paid hacks.”

All of whom are making money trying to prevent Peskin from winning.

Of the close to 1,000 people at the Peskin event, fewer than five were getting paid (although Tan, in a remarkably racist tweet, said that the 200 or so members of the Community Tenants Organization, had been “tricked” to attend. Mr. Leung, the head of the CTA, a powerful longtime grassroots group in Chinatown, introduced Aaron, and spoke about him in Chinese for several minutes).

Now let’s move to District 1, where the Standard reports that

A press conference hosted by San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chan to call for more police in her district turned contentious Friday, with protesters bashing her record on public safety and accusing her of racism and Chan decrying one critic as a “Trump supporter” and another as a “bully.”

You can see some video here:

First: Chan organized the event to say that she has asked repeatedly for more police in the district, and the mayor has not responded. A group of local merchants joined her in the event, calling for more foot patrols and better public safety in D1. That’s the news.

But of course, there was the “counter protest.”

The two leaders: Two white men, Conor Johnston, a former staffer for Mayor London Breed, and Alan Burradell, whom Chan described as a “Trump supporter” (there’s a picture on Twitter of someone who appears to be Burradell with a dog in a Trump sweater).

Johnston is, with some controversy, a cannabis entrepreneur and part owner of Berner’s on Haight.

Neither of them lives in D1. As far as I can tell from Department of Elections records, Johnston isn’t registered to vote in San Francisco, so I don’t know where he lives.

I told him I was doing a story, and asked him on Twitter where he lives; his response:

“Story” implies you’re a journalist. You’re not.

Sorry I am not up to Conor’s standards.

So: Not really a “grassroots” protest either, as much as an event orchestrated by people who are, at the very least, allies of the mayor and her candidate, Marjan Philhour.

I sent Burradell a text and an email asking if he was working for any D1 candidate, and whether in fact he is a Trump supporter (Bloomberg News says someone with that name who has a dog was a Trump supporter in 2016)

I have received no response.

But the news media needs to be more clear about what these “protests” really are.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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