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Politics & Policy

SF supervisors set to condemn racial campaign tactics, but they’re curiously silent on DA Chesa Boudin

Supervisor Chan holds up an attack poster depicting her and her predecessor, Sandra Fewer, in communist-style propaganda. | Screenshot

San Francisco supervisors are set to unanimously pass a resolution Tuesday denouncing anti-Asian rhetoric and the use of “racial campaign antics” after an online poster supporting the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin sparked accusations of dog-whistle tactics two weeks ago.

Supervisor Connie Chan, a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong, said “it pains me to introduce this resolution” during last week’s meeting, as she held up an attack poster depicting her and her predecessor, Sandra Fewer, in communist-style propaganda.

“It is time for us to break that silence,” Chan said.

All 11 supervisors are sponsoring the resolution, ensuring its passage. Myrna Melgar, another immigrant supervisor from El Salvador, tweeted that she “absolutely, unequivocally” supports the bill.

“We must stand together against this and call it out always!” Melgar tweeted.

On Mar. 10, Asian American community activists and former elected leaders gathered in Chinatown to condemn an online poster depicting DA Boudin in a Cold War-era, communist-style propaganda image. The image was designed by an anonymous Twitter user with the handle “MightyPen1984.”

After the Chinatown event, “MightyPen1984” doubled down and posted similar style images targeting Boudin on Twitter.

The designer behind the account, who declined to disclose their identity, rejected claims that the posters are racist and told The Standard through direct messages that the style of the posters is “perfect for lampooning” Boudin because of his former work experience under Hugo Chavez, the late President of Venezuela and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, as well as his parents’ connection with the left-wing radical group Weather Underground.

The person added, “Communist propaganda posters, from a purely aesthetic point of view, are incredibly well done. My mission is to mock the powerful when I feel they deserve it, and maybe give people a few laughs in the process.”

It is worth noting that Chan’s resolution does not include images of these posters and makes no mention of the recall of Boudin, who has been a lightning rod in city politics since winning an election in November 2019.

Chan said she condemned any imagery of red-baiting, including the Boudin attack poster, but she emphasized that the intent of the resolution is to denounce anti-Asian rhetoric and "not to be misconstrued as any political campaigning inside the Board Chamber."

Richie Greenberg, the chair of the Recall Chesa Boudin Committee, which used the original image as part of its campaign, said the supervisors will “hit another pathetic low” if they pass the resolution Tuesday.

“It appears the Board of Supervisors continues their assault on voters rights, and to censure the rights of Americans’ First Amendment free expression,” said Greenberg, a former Republican mayoral candidate. “Political commentary, caricatures, parody, satire and lampooning is a long-held American tradition dating back centuries.”

Boudin’s anti-recall campaign previously issued a statement to The Standard calling on Greenberg’s recall committee to apologize. “These posters are offensive and wrong,” campaign spokesperson Julie Edwards said.

Greenberg’s campaign differs from the Safer SF Without Boudin campaign, which successfully submitted more than 83,000 signatures to qualify for the recall election for this June. The Safer SF Without Boudin campaign issued a statement distancing itself from the communist-style images and Greenberg's group.