SF political leaders speak at rally against safe injection sites, though many privately say they support them
Appearing at a rally championed by a group so fiercely against safe drinking sites may be a natural choice for a district attorney who has presented himself as a bastion of law and order and depends on supporters who appreciate that message. punishment-oriented. In public statements made against former DA Chesa Boudin, Jenkins criticized his policies as sending a message that San Francisco would not prosecute crime.
Yet she also needs the support of politicians like Mayor London Breed, who has long championed the legalization of safe injection sites, and Senator Wiener, who drafted the Safe Injection Sites Bill and also endorsed Jenkins. Breed named Jenkins district attorney after Boudin’s recall in June.
Breed is such a firm believer in safe injection sites that she touted them in her 2020 inaugural speech.
“We are working to open meth detox centers, safe injection sites and managed alcohol facilities so we can stop walking by the addiction that is rampant on our streets and start treating it as the problem. health he is,” said Breed at the Town Hall stage in 2020.
Jason McDaniel, an associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University, said navigating those differing viewpoints could test Jenkins’ relationships with key supporters.
“It may be risky to create the possibility of daylight between his point of view and important supporters,” McDaniel said. “I think it’s an acknowledgment that this is a difficult issue.”
Painful personal stories
It is also a problem that affects a growing number of families. There have been 641 accidental drug overdose deaths in San Francisco in 2021, and more than 300 so far this year, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The majority of these overdoses were from fentanyl use.
Oakland’s Keneda Gibson, who spoke at the San Francisco rally on Sunday, said her younger brother had fallen into drug addiction after being treated for gunshot wounds with opiates. The medical system failed him, she said, and he found himself in San Francisco seeking medicine.
“He had been looking for heroin on the street,” she said.
At one point, she said, someone mistakenly informed his family that he had died. They searched San Francisco and Oakland for John Doe who matched his description. His family mourned him. It wasn’t until later that someone reached out and said they found him alive. But her quality of life and substance abuse were still intimidating, she said, and sent her family into depression.
When asked if she supported SB 57, Gibson said, “I think Governor Newsom is absolutely insane to even consider such an idea.”
Gibson hopes California will study the use of psychedelics to help people with addictions. (Exploring the broader benefits of psychedelics is another effort by Senator Wiener, in the form of Senate Bill 519.)
Safe consumption sites have long been controversial because they allow drugs to be consumed on the spot.
Yet because safe-drinking sites are typically staffed with medical professionals and social workers — people who can connect addicts to services and administer life-saving treatment in the event of an overdose — the sites have been praised by supporters for for saving lives and for enabling addicts to end the cycle of addiction. Two such sites opened in New York last year to much fanfare, and more than 100 sites exist worldwide. San Francisco has contemplated the use of safe consumption sites for nearly a decade.
Ellen Grantz, co-founder of Mothers Against Drug Deaths, told KQED that she thought SB 57 was “premature at best.” The group would rather see the state focus on committing more resources to preventing the drug use epidemic.
“The reality is that there are people trying to clean themselves up. They actually have appointments with admission to treatment, but they’re turned away from their appointment because there aren’t enough staff,” Grantz said. “So before we do anything else to help people use a safe consumption site, we want to get those processing issues resolved.”
Two years later, Jenkins appeared on those same stages with a group that speaks out against the use of safe injection sites. The day before they met on the steps of City Hall, Grantz of Mothers Against Drug Deaths congratulated Jenkins for agreeing to show up at their event.
“We’re super excited to have him, and also to talk about his role in helping to resolve the fentanyl situation and the drug overdose situation,” Grantz said.