As calls for fundamental changes in policing echo across the nation, San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants people to know that while the SFPD is not perfect, the city has implemented many of the changes being called for in other cities after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"I mean, the work that we did to get rid of the chokehold, people are just now having this conversation," Breed told KQED in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday. "San Francisco hasn't used tear gas in over 30 years. We don't use rubber bullets. We don't do this kind of thing."
The mayor talked with us via Zoom from her home in San Francisco about her own family's tragic experience with law enforcement, her frustration with white people telling her what's best for the Black community and the challenges of working with the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA).
Here are some excerpts of our conversation, which have been edited for clarity and brevity.
On Her Recent Statement: 'I am the Mayor, but I am a Black woman first'
"First of all, I'm proud to be Black. But I also wanted people to remember that, sadly, the racism, the frustration and the things that African Americans have endured in this country for far too long are things that I sadly have had to endure throughout my entire life.
"Part of what I wanted to remind people, especially people who are not Black who are basically trying to tell me what to do for people who are Black, that it's really offensive. I just want to remind you that I have lived in this my whole life."
On Protesters Outside Her Home
After George Floyd's death, while some were protesting in the streets, a group of people gathered outside the mayor's home in San Francisco.
"It (was) reminiscent of what the Ku Klux Klan did when they would show up at Black people's houses, burn their houses down ... and pull African Americans out of their homes and hang them by the trees. Like that's what it reminded me of.
"They were chanting 'Black Lives Matter' after 11 o'clock at night with this fire, with their ranting and raving and shaking the gate and all the stuff that they were doing, like taunting me and telling me to come outside. And I couldn't help but think 'you're doing this for Black lives?'"