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Politics & Policy

Garry Tan’s vulgar tweet prompts police reports by San Francisco supervisors

A bespectacled man in a black shirt, hand in hair, looks at the camera with a slight smile.
Tech entrepreneur and Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan has stirred up controversy by posting a vulgar tweet that prompted two San Francisco supervisors to file police reports. | Source: Noah Berger for The Standard

A vulgar tweet in which Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan riffed on famous rap lyrics and suggested San Francisco’s progressive-leaning supervisors could “die slow” has resulted in two of the elected officials filing police reports against the influential tech leader and a third saying he intends to go to the police.

Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Connie Chan confirmed to The Standard they have already filed police reports, while Supervisor Ahsha Safaí announced during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he will be going to law enforcement after learning of a death threat sent to Supervisor Dean Preston’s home.

Later in the evening Tuesday, Peskin told The Standard he received the same message in the mail.

Tan is well known on X for his aggressive tweets, but the Y Combinator CEO stepped over the line just after midnight Saturday when he sent a post mimicking 2Pac’s famous diss track “Hit ’Em Up.” The late-night rant replaced 2Pac’s expletive-laced references to the Notorious B.I.G. and Bad Boy Records with the names of Supervisors Chan, Peskin, Safaí, Dean Preston, Shamann Walton, Myrna Melgar and Hillary Ronen.

A screenshot of a Garry Tan tweet
A vulgar tweet by Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan, which has been deleted, referenced lyrics from a song by 2Pac aka Tupac Shakur. The tweet is now the subject of police reports by two San Francisco supervisors. | Source: Screenshot via X

Tan later deleted the post and apologized, saying there’s “no place, no excuse and no reason for this type of speech and charged language in the discourse.”

However, it appears that his post inspired someone to send threatening messages to at least two supervisors: Preston and Peskin. The letter included a screenshot of Tan’s deleted tweet and a message that reads, “I WISH A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH FOR YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES.”

A threatening message with an image of Garry Tan's deleted tweet,
This message was sent to Supervisor Aaron Peskin after Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan sent out an expletive-filled tweet that has since been deleted. | Source: Courtesy Aaron Peskin

“I’ve been a champion for free speech in these chambers … and for any individual’s right to express themselves,” Peskin said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I’ve tolerated borderline hate speech on social media.”

However, Peskin said, it’s important “to draw the line on … incitements to violence and death.”

The message sent to Peskin also featured an image of Tan on the envelope, the supervisor told The Standard.

An envelope with Garry Tan's image.
An envelope with a photo of Garry Tan and a threatening message was sent to Supervisor Aaron Peskin. | Source: Courtesy Aaron Peskin

Chan said she was motivated to file her own police report, in part, because of Tan’s support for Marjan Philhour, a supervisor candidate who is challenging Chan in November. 

Chan provided The Standard with a police incident report that not only noted Tan’s support for Philhour’s candidacy, but also referenced a 2023 police report the supervisor filed against Forrest Liu, who is noted as a paid Philhour campaign staffer. Chan accused Liu of physically threatening her on two occasions.

According to the incident report, Chan told police that after Tan’s tweet it “dawned on me that these unhinged individuals who now have wished me death online as well as physically threaten me are connected, it became alarming to me that the threats are potentially violent and imminent.” 

Chan said she filed a police report against Liu in October after two unprovoked confrontations with him—one at an Outside Lands community meeting on Aug. 9 and another at the Wine on the Westside gala on Oct. 12.

Chan said she was shocked when Liu allegedly challenged her to a fight at the meeting for the music festival. Months later, Liu allegedly threatened her while standing “an inch away from my face.”

“I saw this individual at APEC [working for the Mayor’s Office of Protocol], and it was alarming to me,” Chan said. “Luckily for me, I didn’t have an interaction with that individual at that time.”

Philhour confirmed to The Standard that Liu works for her campaign, but she said she is “not aware of anyone on my campaign team being involved in any crime.”

“I would trust that any suspected crime including threats would be promptly and properly reported to the police and the police would investigate,” Philhour said in a text message.

Liu did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Peskin asked City Attorney David Chiu to draft legislation that would require candidates who receive campaign contributions from “purveyors of hate and violence” to disclose this money in some fashion. 

Sam Singer, a public relations consultant and spokesperson for Tan, dismissed the supervisors’ police reports as a form of political theater.

“I’ve never heard of anybody filing a police report against rap lyrics,” Singer said. “It was wrong of Garry to post that, he knows that and he immediately withdrew it and apologized to the Board of Supervisors.”

Safaí said during Tuesday’s meeting that he plans to file a police report and was particularly alarmed by Tan’s statements given the 1978 assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall. He noted that Preston received a note at home saying Tan’s tweet was right.

Preston, who did not respond to a request for comment, seemed to receive a similar message sent to Peskin, based on reporting by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Even if you weren’t named [in the tweet],” Safaí said, “they’re coming for all of us.”

Josh Ram contributed to this story.

Josh Ram contributed to this report.
Josh Koehn can be reached at