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Billboard in San Francisco Will Warn Tourists About Dangers of Fentanyl

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- A group of mothers will unveil a new campaign on Monday that warns tourists to stay away from San Francisco amid the city's drug crisis that is endangering both locals and visitors.

The organization, Mothers Against Drug Deaths, is buying ads to remind people among the iconic landmarks, San Francisco is also known for its open-air drug market.

"My daughter didn't go to San Francisco for the Embarcadero. She didn't go to San Francisco for Union Square or to see the Golden Gate Bridge. She went to San Francisco to buy her drugs," said East Bay mother Gina McDonald, a member of Mothers Against Drug Deaths.

McDonald said she often feared the late-night calls, especially from the hospital or the police.

"Every single night, it is the wondering, the worrying," said McDonald.Her 24-year-old daughter Sam is an addict. Her addiction has consumed the family.

"My other kid misses his sister. Her father has been pushed to the brink. Her father had to go pay off the drug dealer at one point for her safety," said McDonald.

Some members of the organization have lost children to overdose.

On Monday at 1 p.m., Mothers Against Drug Deaths will unveil the large billboard in Union Square.

With the Golden Gate Bridge in the backdrop, the billboard will read, "Famous the world over for our brains, beauty and, now, dirt-cheap fentanyl."

They said they wanted to raise awareness and warn visitors to stay away from San Francisco until politicians get tough on the problem. They were fed up by the lack of action.

"Number one, you have to get rid of the open-air drug market. Number two, as an addict, either offer jail or treatment," said McDonald.

The organization will also be buying ads on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Public health officials said there were more than 1,360 deaths in San Francisco in the last two years, many of them attributed to fentanyl.

"We are desperate. We are desperate as moms, all of us, we need help," said McDonald.

She said her daughter has been in and out of treatment.

The SF Travel organization, which works to promote tourism in the city, released a statement that read, "The tourism industry has been very vocal and active about the need to improve the situation on our street. This campaign doesn't punish the city. This campaign only hurts the small businesses that are struggling to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic."

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