Eighteen leaders in San Francisco’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community signed an open letter today denouncing the dissemination of election materials they deem anti-Asian by groups supporting the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Among those present at a Chinatown press conference were former supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer, and Norman Yee. Photo by Yujie Zhou.

Eighteen leaders in San Francisco’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community signed an open letter today denouncing the dissemination of election materials they deem anti-Asian by groups supporting the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin. 

“We ask the RecallChesaBoudin.Org campaign to issue an apology to the Chinese and Asian American community,” read the open letter. “We further demand the RecallChesaBoudin.Org campaign immediately cease the use and distribution of your racist poster on social media platforms, as well as traditional media venues.”

Among those present at a Chinatown press conference were former supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer and Norman Yee. The campaign materials they cited feature a faux-Chinese communist portrait of Chesa Boudin, reminiscent of propaganda during the Cultural Revolution. Under Boudin’s giant palm are depictions of tents and drug addicts. 

Richie Greenberg, media spokesman of RecallChesaBoudin.Org campaign called the signatories “far left progressive extremists. The scourge of our city.” And, Greenberg called on them to “condemn Chesa for his virtually ignoring the plight of our Asian American community.”

The campaign materials they cited feature a faux-Chinese communist portrait of Chesa Boudin, reminiscent of propaganda during the Cultural Revolution. Under Boudin’s giant palm are depictions of tents and drug addicts.

Clearly the Asian Americans who signed the open letter today disagree.

“The Recall Campaign had exploited the use of a Chinese historical jacket to deceive San Francisco voters,” said Henry Der, former California Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I dare the Recall Chesa Boudin campaign to produce one legitimate photo — not a photoshopped one — of Chesa Boudin wearing a Mao jacket, at any time before or during his tenure as District Attorney.”

“The Recall Campaign feels it can walk all over the Chinese and Asian American community by resorting to red-baiting tactics to achieve its political goal,” he said.

Greenberg’s campaign failed to collect enough signatures to recall Boudin. It is not associated with the campaign that ultimately did collect enough signatures,  Safer SF Without Boudin.

“Our campaign has no affiliation whatsoever with these misguided and harmful posters depicting District Attorney Boudin,” said Safer SF Without Boudin chairwoman Mary Jung. “We call on whomever created and distributed these posters to stop immediately and to take them down from anywhere they may be in the public.”

Julie Tang, a retired Superior Court of San Francisco judge, laid blame at the feet of the wealthy donors listed as underwriters for the campaign material. “By and large, the majority of them are out-of-towners who feel it is okay to infest our community with racism and hatred by funding campaigns like this.”

The funders listed on the poster are David Sacks, Daniel O’Keefe, Lin Yeaser Coonan, Jessie Powell and Jeff Fluhr.

Tang also believes the poster is ineffective, even as a campaign strategy. “Why is the recall campaign using racist tactics, when they are trying to recall Chesa Boudin because they think he is not faithful to Chinese Americans? It’s really very convoluted.”

Another poster that originally appeared in 2020, when Connie Chan was running for District 1 Supervisor.

“I’m so outraged,” said Bill Hing, Professor of Law and Migration Studies at University of San Francisco. “When I first saw that image, it just immediately reminded me of so many of the images that led to anti-Chinese sentiment.”

“These kinds of images invite anti-Chinese sentiment and encourage vigilante racism against our community,” he said.

Other speakers bemoaned offensive imagery beyond offense to Asians. “Part of what that ad is trying to also evoke is dehumanizing the experiences of people living in poverty, people suffering from drug addiction,” said Shaw San Liu, the Executive Director of Chinese Progressive Association Action Fund “It’s trying to play to fear and deep-seated anti-Blackness that exists in our society at the same time.”

Fewer found the attempt to use racism to win an election “harmful,” “ignorant” and “dangerous.” 

“As a victim of this type of racist inflammatory rhetoric myself, first as a candidate for supervisor having to prove that I was indeed Chinese, to having posters plastered on streets, depicting Connie Chan and myself as communist loyalists,” Fewer said. 

“To those who funded these racist posters, shame on you,” she said.

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Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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23 Comments

  1. If anyone who can see the destruction leftist create, it’s the Chinese who saw what it did to their homeland.

    1. And likely don’t like it being exploited for cheap political points. (and conflating the SF left with Maoists is a bit much)
      Richie G can always be relied upon to be a charmer.

  2. The funders are one issue but the strong evidence of Boudin’s incompetence and a far-out ideological outlook that enables crime are another. Missionlocal does its best to paint Boudin as a beleaguered progressive. The quirks of rank choice voting got him elected. Now, a more informed electorate will think and vote.

  3. Thank you for your reporting on this important issue. These ads sound horrible and racist.
    And, as a Pacific Islander, you don’t need to include us in with Asians e.g. “San Francisco’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community” when the content doesn’t have to do with us. In this case you can just omit Pacific Islander and leave Asian. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI or NHOPI) have been our own group per federal data standards since revisions to OMB Directive No. 15 back in 1998.
    The better we do at aggregating the API grouping (assigned to us by outsiders… not A nor PI), the better off for all.

  4. Those posters seem anti-communist not anti-asian to me, maybe this outrage is a bit performative?

    1. The posters are offensively stupid is what they are. If they’re trying to be anti-communist, to what end? What does the communist party of China’s criminal prosecution policies have to do with Boudin’s? Personally, I’m fed up with the bush league public histrionics from this group. I’d say that if the donors are scared to head to Union Square for some luxury shopping after the recent professional burglaries (property crime is up, violent crime is not), just skip it and shop in Walnut Creek….except whoops….same thing happened in the Boudin-free WC!

    2. Performative seems like a pretty good description.

      The faux-outraged statement decrying the Mao jacket for not representing Boudin’s actual clothing choices is hilarious.

  5. Good to see Asian nonprofity types calling out the scourge of anti-Black racism arising from some conservative Chinese Americans.

    “Show me more like this.”

    1. Hopefully the black nonprofits start calling out the anti-asian racism that is rampant across the black community

  6. Honestly I am deeply mistrustful of all the recall elections and the way they have courted, manipulated and gaslighted voters who serve their purpose. I think these images are reflective of their ignorance.

  7. The loud anti-Boudin people has been obnoxious for a long time, like spoiled kids that don’t know their place.
    Where as any sensible minds will vote when it’s time to do so.

  8. Oh please — save us from all this theatrical outrage. Didn’t Sandra Fewer lead the profanity anti POA chant @ Boudin’s election night party? She’s a long time Boudin advocate and she and others have jumped on this poster art to create support for him. She was never concerned with neighborhood issues while a Supervisor and her continued support of Boudin is consistent with that.

  9. So now the billionaires are racist, but not when they funded the recall of three people of color on the school board.

  10. You don’t bother to mention that the Richie Greenberg group who produced the poster that some find offensive is NOT the recall group which successfully led the effort to put the Boudin recall on the ballot and is doing most of the work to support the recall effort. Greenberg’s “group” (seems like it’s mostly just Greenberg himself and some financial backers) is operating independently and somewhat deceptively, in my view, and you should check their financials – last time I looked at them, it seemed like Greenberg was taking a big salary in exchange for… what? Things like this poster, I guess.

    It’s not particularly good journalism to fail to point out that Greenberg’s fringe group, who produced the controversial poster, has no connection to the current recall campaign. For what it’s worth, the real recall campaign, which you can find at safersfwithoutboudin.com, has a lot of involvement by members of the Asian community who also support the recall.

    1. Hey there. The other campaign did not immediately return our queries. They since have and we have updated the story.

      Yours,

      JE

    2. Greenberg also raged against Lateefah Simon for moving out of the BART district she was elected to serve, even though Simon is visually impaired, legally blind. Demanding she’d read a map in detail is just cruel when she asked authorities for clearance, it was provided, and apparently she has receipts.

      What is Simon’s ethnicity again?

  11. The defense I see in the comments make me sit back and remind myself, on social media it is the worst of the worst who generally comment in offensive ways and defend racism etc. Frankly, I cannot wish hard enough many of those who moved here who now only complain just leave already.

    1. I second that. I’m a bit surprised that after a long absence of reading the comments that it seems like SFChr*nicle.com level of trolling going on here. I’m a bit horrified by all the “not racist” ‘splainign going on.

  12. The poster is really well done.
    Nothing about it is “anti-Asian”.
    However, a piece of political propaganda, it’ll likely resonate with Chinese-American voters that have negative associations with regard to the authoritarian regime in China — most specifically those that have recently immigrated.
    Accordingly, the pro-Boudin constituency in SF are fearful of it’s potential effectiveness — hence, the ridiculous “racism” charge.

  13. I’m waiting for the Mission Local to do an article on anti-
    Asian hate assaults by ‘People of color ‘. Each group needs to call out its own racism, Asian included. I have done it every time I hear any racist remark/act toward any group. Some immigrants are racist but I have not heard of as many physical assaults committed by Asians as they have been assaulted. I remember before it was “third world unity – red, black, yellow, brown.’ Now it is just “black and brown”. Yellow has been left out, even though many live in abject poverty. Allison Collins even went as far as equating Chinese as white supremacist. This coming from a half white woman married to a rich white man who complained about racism because her children were supposedly bullied by Asians. Does she stand with Asians Am’s who are most often the target of bullying. And more importantly how Asian Am’s complaints are ignored. The articles about the “Chinese” getting groceries at the food hub perhaps was an attempt to draw sympathy for them, ( I have heard some elderly ladies complaining about being harassed by some young Latino men, especially being intimidated by one who rides a bicycle and circled around them, and other kinds of discrimination. ) Unfortunately your newly arrived writer, due to her lack of knowledge of the “Chinese Community”, only interviewed one group of the community.
    (There are Chinese Americans born here, from Taiwan, Hong Kong, other parts of Asia, and even Latin America who have very different perspectives, and have also experienced racism by other POC.) And unfortunately some were portraited in the articles as ungrateful and greedy, and drew hateful comments that are projected toward the entire race.
    re: Lowell admission. Why punished those who want to do well and pull down everyone else. We should be working toward improving all schools from the ground up so there wouldn’t be a need to have a school like Lowell. Throwing unprepared kids in a vigorous environment is just setting them up for a failure. But of course they would get an automatic pass like in many other schools. I wonder what the rating of math and reading will be in a year. Also legal talk aside, by the same argument, should UC and even Stanford use the lottery system?
    The only problem I have with Lowell is that some parents and students (not just Asians) put too much pressure on the kids. High schools in Palo Alto are having the same problem to the point of some students jumping in front of trains.

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