On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an initiative between the California National Guard and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) along with the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney's office to crack down on the massive influx and distribution of fentanyl in the Golden City following weeks of outcry over the drug's impact on the city including its open air drug markets.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsom said in a statement, "Through this new collaborative partnership, we are providing more law enforcement resources and personnel to crack down on crime linked to the fentanyl crisis, holding the poison peddlers accountable, and increasing law enforcement presence to improve public safety and public confidence in San Francisco."
The announcement follows Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed's chief of staff, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta, touring the San Francisco neighborhood of Tenderloin earlier in the week. The Tenderloin area of the city has been plagued with homelessness, drug use, and crime in recent years.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports, "The Tenderloin and South of Market are the epicenters of the city’s drug and homelessness crises, with people dealing and using drugs on sidewalks."
On April 10, journalist Michael Shellenberger said on Twitter that San Francisco was a "failed city" and called on Newsom to "send in the national guard to shut down the dangerous and deadly open air drug markets."
"If Newsom can call in the National Guard to protect the capital from pro-Trump protesters, then he can certainly call in the national guard to protect San Francisco residents from aggressive and violent criminals and drug dealers," he added.
San Francisco community members have been requesting action from Newsom for two years and created the California Peace Coalition to lobby the governor.
Newsom directed the California National Guard to hone in on identifying, analyzing, and dismantling drug trafficking rings. He tasked the CHP to work with local police and officials in enforcing drug laws in the area.
Since the beginning of 2023, there has been a 41 percent increase in overdoses, 200 deaths total, in San Francisco compared to the same time period last year.
Newsom said in his statement that the initiative "will not seek to criminalize those struggling with substance use and instead focus on holding drug suppliers and traffickers accountable.
"Victory!" Shellenberger said on Twitter on Friday. "Our movement of parents, recovering addicts, and residents has been calling for the governor to call out the National Guard for weeks."
"This is a great moral victory that came with a shifting of public opinion. San Francisco is today an international symbol of chaos, homelessness, and drug deaths. Democrats know they are vulnerable on this. That's ultimately why Newsom had to act," Shellenberger added.
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