Newsom Defends San Francisco Homeless Sweep Before International Summit
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images

Recent comments from California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom surfaced online showing him defending San Francisco for clearing out areas of the city occupied by homeless camps and public drug markets before world leaders — including China’s President Xi Jinping — arrived for an international economic summit this week.

“Anytime you put on an event — by definition — you know you have people over at your house, you’re gonna clean up the house,” Newsom told reporters during the ‘Clean California’ event in San Francisco on November 9.

APEC, known as the “Super Bowl of World Economies,” is holding its 2023 leaders meeting in San Francisco between November 11 and 17 this year. The summit includes leaders of 21 countries and regions, including President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and top CEOS amid tens of thousands of other attendees.

“21 world leaders … you got tens of thousands of people coming from all around the globe,” he added. “What an opportunity to showcase the world’s most extraordinary place — San Francisco.”

San Francisco has been in the throes of a homelessness and drug crisis that has come with rampant crime for years now while the city consistently struggles to make a dent in the humanitarian crisis unfolding daily on the streets.

Homelessness has only gotten worse since before the pandemic. About 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on a given night — that’s up 35% since 2019. More than 7,000 people are homeless in San Francisco itself, and the city’s crime rate and open-air drug use have caused businesses to flee San Francisco’s downtown.

Although overall crime slightly dropped this year, certain types of violent crime like murder, robberies, and car theft have increased, according to police data reported by The Daily Wire in September.

According to a Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans — 48% —now view San Francisco as unsafe, up from just 30% in 2006.

But despite those figures, San Francisco became the host city for APEC 2023, which the city’s website described as “the most significant event with world leaders in San Francisco in recent history.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the city’s effort to clear the encampments is an attempt to avoid a repeat of 2016, when it hosted Superbowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area. Aside from airing the game, the outlet noted that TV broadcasts had focused on the city’s homeless crisis along Division Street, which presented “a major civic black eye” for the Bay Area.

Internal emails obtained by The Chronicle show city officials were “concerned about historical encampments that are close to priority areas” and needed to format a plan to “stay on top of the growing encampments.”

Several videos circulating on social media appear to show various sidewalks cleared of homeless encampments and individuals, with some portions blocked off with barricades or covered with brand-new planters where tents had once stood.

According to local media, a federal injunction requires the city to provide adequate shelter for homeless individuals after removing their tents from public areas. Although the city did not set up new shelters specifically for individuals impacted by the international summit, it opened a 30-spot overnight winter shelter and has been working on adding 300 beds to some of the existing shelters.

Newsom also said last week that “it’s true” that city officials removed homeless encampments from sidewalks because of the international summit.

“I know folks are saying, ‘Oh, they’re just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town,'” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, as reported by Fox News. “That’s true because it’s true — but it’s also true for months and months and months before APEC, we’ve been having conversations.”

Mairead Elordi contributed to this report.

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