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'We Have To Do Better': San Francisco Mayor Lifts Curfew As Peaceful Protests Grow

San Francisco is lifting a city-wide curfew on Thursday after days of protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd. 

Several cities nationwide have issued curfews in an effort to tamp down on the few among thousands that have taken part in vandalism and looting. Many peaceful protesters have ignored those orders. 

On Wednesday night, more than10,000 peoplein San Francisco defied the curfew topeacefully marchin honor of Floyd and other black Americans who have been killed at the hands of police. Only a handful of arrests were made. 

After issuing an indefinite curfew on Sunday night, San Francisco Mayor London Breed says she is now suspending the curfew in order to facilitate growing peaceful protests in the city. 

“People are mad and people are hurt, and people are sick and tired,” Breed says. “So I think that they’re not just going to disappear. I think people want to be heard. They want this to stop.”

She says San Francisco’s curfew was implemented not just to prevent property damage but to protect everyone in the city. 

“We’re trying to protect the protesters. We want them to go home safely. We want the police to go home safely. We want everyone to go home safely,” she says. “And so part of what we are trying to do is, is protect the public as best we can, but we want to make sure people have an opportunity to protest.”

Breed is criticizing President Trump’s response to the nationwide protests, saying that he is “pushing for division” bythreatening to deploy the militaryto quell demonstrators. While she doesn’t condone property damage, Breed says those things are replaceable but human lives are not. 

“We are tired of African American men dying at the hands of law enforcement, and we want to see change,” she says. “And I think that that has to be acknowledged before this aggressive military response is even talked about. It shouldn’t even have a place in the discussion right now.”

She says she hopes people remember their frustration and anger when it comes time to vote. 

“I hope what this does is it pushes them to the polls,” she says. 

More From The Interview

On a recently surfaced video of a San Francisco police officer pressing a knee on the neck of a black teenager in January

“Well, after everything we’ve done here in San Francisco around police reform, all I can think about is this is not acceptable, and we have to do better. We have implemented various training, but there is no training for common sense and also common decency. And I get that the police officers were trying to restrain this individual for whatever reason, but that move is not something that should have occurred. And we have to do better. 

“And I am committed as the mayor of the city who is responsible for this police department to make sure that these kinds of incidents don’t continue to happen and that we hold officers in this city accountable. And also other officers have to hold one another accountable. I’ve gotten so many calls from police officers in San Francisco to say, ‘We are so angry about what happened to George Floyd.’ I mean, they were angry. Well, don’t tell me. Tell your fellow officers. Tell the public you all have to be a part of the solution as well because this is not OK and we have to change it.”

On overhauling San Francisco police’s use of force policies

“I definitely want to be clear that we have been working toward overhauling those policies. And I think the problem is the people who are calling for things should probably read what the policies are first, to understand all the reforms that we have made that we are trying to implement. And people are like, ‘Well, why haven’t you implemented the reforms faster?’ Let me tell you why. Because we want these officers to get it. We’re not just making everybody go through training to go through training. They need to understand what it means as it relates to anti-bias training. They need to understand the time and distance policy, so when they’re out on the field, they can put this into action. They have to believe in it. They have to do it. And if we have people who have a problem with policing black communities, if they have a problem with Asians or anything else, they should not be working in this department because of their inherent nature of being, sadly, [is] racist. So it’s bigger than just the policy.”

On whether other cities should have followed San Francisco’s example in containing the coronavirus by reopening slowly

“Because I’m not managing those cities and I don’t know what challenges they have, it’s hard for me to suggest that other cities should be doing what San Francisco is doing. I do think that at this point we need to move a lot faster because we are seeing the curve drop and the economy is suffering, and people who are low-income residents of this city have lost their jobs. And so I think what’s important is we get the city open as quickly as we possibly can because, well, this virus is with us. This virus is with us. So now it’s time for us to adjust our new normal and make sure we do everything we can to keep people safe.”

On whether she’s worried about Twitter and other Silicon Valley companies adopting indefinite work-from-home policies

“I’m definitely worried. Other companies have already done it and will continue to do it, and it will have an impact on our economy. But ultimately, people are going to want to come into San Francisco. They’re not going to always want to work at home. The option is great to have, but being around other people, going out to restaurants and enjoying city life — people are going to get restless, and they’re going to want to come back to work. It’s going to be tough for us for some time, and my hope is that we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

Francesca Paris produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson and James Perkins Mastromarino adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed in 2018. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
San Francisco Mayor London Breed in 2018. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)