Update: Days after his original call for imprisoning Supervisor Dean Preston, Elon Musk did it again, posting on X that “Dean Preston should be in prison for what he’s done to San Francisco.” That call came the same day Musk said a second supervisor, Board President Aaron Peskin, should also be thrown in prison.
Elon Musk, the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, called today for the jailing of District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston.
“Dean Preston should go to prison,” Musk posted in response to a Mission Local article reporting that legislation introduced by Preston, which would ban security guards from unholstering their weapons over property crimes, passed in a committee on Thursday.
The democratic socialist Preston’s legislation was unanimously supported by the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee’s three moderate members, Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey and Joel Engardio.
Musk has made no secret of his disdain for the supervisor: Last week, he called for Preston to be fired, and named him “arguably the person most responsible for the destruction of San Francisco.” Half an hour later, Musk pledged $100,000 to a political action committee fundraising to unseat the supervisor, who is the only democratic socialist on the Board of Supervisors.
The PAC, dubbed Dump Dean and run by the political pressure group Grow SF, said they had not received a donation from Musk and would, after today’s comments, not take one in the future.
“We won’t accept the donation,” said Steven Buss, one of the co-founders of the group. Buss said he had never believed the donation would materialize, and had not been contacted by Musk.
“We need to be aligned on values with our donors, and it’s clear we differ with Elon on a number of important issues (including locking up political opponents),” Buss said, adding that Musk’s tweets were “a stupid distraction” that has “nothing to do with us or the voters who care about clean and safe streets.”
Preston sent out a statement soon after Musk’s posts.
“These attacks are beyond the pale,” said Preston in a statement. “A billionaire calling for a democratically elected official to be sent to prison for no reason is textbook fascism. Regardless, I will continue advocating for my constituents, even if that makes billionaires uncomfortable and increasingly unhinged.”
Preston has, in the past, said it was not surprising he would draw the ire of a “right-wing billionaire,” as the supervisor is “a democratic socialist,” pointing to his own past anti-eviction and affordable-housing ordinances.
The supervisor has become the bête noire of moderate political pressure groups and their well-heeled donors in San Francisco: Garry Tan, the millionaire CEO of Y Combinator, has unleashed frequent tirades against Preston and pledged to end his time in politics next year, when Preston faces a re-election race.
Tan has pledged $50,000 to the PAC opposing Preston, an amount Musk said he would double. Tan is also a board member of the group Grow SF, which is behind the PAC, and whose founders have taken aim at the supervisor, alongside other moderate groups and donors.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, a fellow progressive, called attention to the cavalcade opposing Preston. He said other tech executives were “spending their money in the same ways” as Musk, and that he was representative of their ilk, even if his rhetoric is often harsher.
“In some ways, I think Elon Musk is doing San Francisco a favor because he is actually saying what some of his fellow billionaires think but don’t say,” Peskin said.
Peskin believed there could be a silver lining for Preston, as the attacks could galvanize support and donations to the supervisor in next year’s District 5 race: “People in the San Francisco Bay Area are offended by it and are too sophisticated to fall for it, and it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to Dean Preston.”
The ordinance that passed on Thursday — and is apparently reviled by Musk — was crafted by Preston in response to the shooting death of Banko Brown, a transgender man who was shot and killed at a mid-Market Walgreens in April. Brown was suspected of shoplifting some $15 worth of snacks and, on his way out of the store, was intercepted by a security guard.
The guard wrestled with Brown and threw him onto the floor. And, as Brown was backing out of the exit, the guard shot him once in the chest. The guard was not charged for the shooting, which is under review by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Musk has a history of anti-trans rhetoric, recently saying the use of preferred pronouns rots the brain and implying that transgender people are heavily privileged in society. He has a transgender daughter who has disavowed him, and his recent biographer, Walter Isaacson, said that his daughter’s rejection has caused a right-wing turn.
Peskin, for his part, said he was not worried about the attacks and did not give “credence” to Musk — quite the opposite.
“My intelligence is insulted by having to talk about Elon Musk,” Peskin said.