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Hundreds in San Francisco march to call for solutions on drug crisis

San Francisco mayoral candidates talk about solutions to drug crisis after rally
San Francisco mayoral candidates talk about solutions to drug crisis after rally 03:26

San Francisco's drug policies have become a hot political topic in the upcoming mayoral election, and on Monday, several candidates joined people marching in the streets, calling for solutions.

Accidental overdose deaths in San Francisco surged to a record high of 806 last year, according to the medical examiner's office — Most of them involved fentanyl.

"Raised on Eddie and Taylor, moved to SOMA. This is part of my community. We want to see a change and we want to see a difference," said Krystal Morales.

Morales was one of those who showed up to march through the Tenderloin, as part of a call for changes in this neighborhood.

"We want a safe community for our children," Morales said. "We want a safe community for our families. And we want those that need help and need assistance to get that help and assistance and care."

The march was organized by the city's recovery community, which for several years now, has been pushing for different approaches - tougher approaches - on the city's fentanyl crisis.

"You know what, harm reduction from my perspective is not reducing the harm," Mayor London Breed told the crowd. "It is making things far worse."

Breed joined the crowd on the steps of city hall, but just two hours earlier one of her challengers declared this issue a failure of leadership.

"Out of control spending on nonprofits that have failed to deliver results," Daniel Lurie told supporters in Chinatown. "The unwillingness to take on bureaucracy at city hall that is fundamentally failing San Franciscans."

Lurie rolled out a six-point-plan for what he calls the 'demand' side of the drug problem: a new system for pushing those in trouble towards help faster, with no allowance for staying on the street.

"We will introduce a deflection program to incentivize individuals to seek treatment, or face arrest," he said.

The mayor was asked about Lurie's comments, and she seems to include recent mayoral race entry Mark Farell in her response.

"Where have they been," the mayor asked. "Where have they been? This is not a new issue. This has been going on for a long time. They were nowhere to be found during the pandemic. Send a message and quiet around issues related to important things. And surprised, they put out something. And they've had nothing to do with it."

So with the election more than 250 days out, the discussion is already taking shape. Voters are wondering who has the answers for the problems that have vexed the city, and frustrated so many residents.

"It's going to take patience," Morales said. "And it's going to take showing up. And it's going to take coming together to really be a community that believes in the same voice and that believes in the same goal."

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