The City of San Francisco, home of the social justice movement and the tech industry, is in an uproar over the removal of black interim Mayor London Breed and her replacement by white male venture capitalist Mark Farrell.
Breed replaced Ed Lee as interim Mayor in December after the latter suddenly died at age 65. Breed was the next in line of succession due to her position as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
However, on Tuesday night, Breed was ousted and replaced by Farrell during an animated Board of Supervisors meeting, following hours of testimony. According to Bay Area public radio station KQED, “Farrell initially secured the seat by a 7-2 vote but faced a second vote when Supervisor Katy Tang withdrew her initial vote of support. In the end, Farrell took office with a 6-3 vote.”
According to the New York Times, Farrell is the managing director of Thayer Ventures, a firm that invests in technology companies. He was reportedly backed by a group that has been critical of the influence of tech companies in San Francisco. The New York Times further notes, “Breed rose up from modest means and has vociferous support among the city’s thinning African-American population. But she also had the backing of a prominent Silicon Valley investor, Ron Conway.”
“This is war!” some reportedly shouted as board members left the chambers, and accusations of racism filled the room.
According to the Times, Rev. Amos Brown, head of the NAACP in San Francisco and the pastor of Third Baptist Church, said, “The black community is not going to take this sitting down.”
Asked if she believed her removal as interim or acting mayor was due to racism, Breed reportedly said, “I don’t want to dwell on that particular element because it has sadly brought out the worst in some people. And so what I am trying to do as a leader in this city is bring out the best in people.” She reportedly added, “I am still on the ballot June 5, and we need to get fired up and ready to go!”
San Francisco tech workers and companies are replacing traditionally black neighborhoods through known as gentrification. In 2015, Breitbart News reported, “San Francisco’s gentrification is slowly creeping into the Bay Area’s traditionally black neighborhoods, forcing out locals and slowly replacing them with Silicon Valley techies and professionals who are better able to afford higher prices.” One such place is the historically black Bayview-Hunters Point.
The Bay Area’s creeping gentrification has also made its way to places of worship. In January 2017, Breitbart News reported that Beth Eden Baptist Church, Oakland’s oldest African American Baptist church, has witnessed a “devastating” decline in attendance due to gentrification. The same dynamic has made its way to Southern California’s black communities.