There Is No Plan

We can’t simply criminalize human suffering

Juanita MORE!
5 min readDec 27, 2021
Madam Breed in blue — speaking at the GLBT Historical Gala while Juanita MORE! looks on in blue. (Photo: Courtesy of Fred Rowe Foto)

I’m super excited to learn more about Mayor Breed’s Tenderloin Emergency Intervention Plan. The official state of emergency will allow the City to waive bureaucratic hurdles to expedite certain initiatives more quickly. To ensure the edict would continue as intended, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gathered on Christmas Eve to either approve or reject the mayor’s declaration — in what has now been considered a contentious virtual meeting that lasted about 10 hours.

I was not available for the ten-hour journey. Unfortunately, Mayor Breed was also unavailable to attend this important meeting on a plan that she, herself, enacted. Without any prior vote or community input. She didn’t even have time to jump on the Zoom meeting to say “hello’’ during the ten-hour session involving her concerned constituents.

Nevertheless, there were lots of urgent calls from the public to better understand what the plan there was. Because, alas, there was no concrete plan ever given to the public.

Much like many of you as well, I’m confused. San Francisco Supervisors Connie Chan (D1), Catherine Stefan, (D2), Aaron Peskin (D3)—absent but sent a letter supporting the declaration—Gordon Mar (D4), Matt Haney (D6), Myrna Melgar (D7), Rafael Mandelman (D8), Hillary Ronen (D9), Ahsha Safai (D11), all voted in favor of Mayor Breed’s plan to effectively increase police presence in the area and make more arrests in San Francisco. Only Supervisors Shamann Walton (D10) and Dean Preston (D5) voted against the measure.

Earlier this month during the opening of a Tenderloin community market, Mayor Breed was recorded saying the following about the neighborhood, particularly around its problems:

“We are going to make people who are dealing drugs, who are using drugs out in the open with no regard for the community, people who are assaulting and spitting on and stabbing and shooting and destroying this community, we are going to make life hell for the.”

The moment Breed spoke about the Tenderloin in such a way, it became a weighty and criticized statement that opened up the proverbial gateway for her to walk this current state of emergency right through.

But, yet I keep hearing that there is no plan. (Because let me reiterate: There isn’t one.)

I have witnessed homelessness, drug addiction, and blatant daytime drug sales in my neighborhood daily for the past 30 years. But, I don’t have the answer for homelessness, and with all the rain this past month, it has been tough to witness my neighbors sleeping under soaking wet pieces of cardboard.

This past month, it truly broke my heart to see a woman living in a tent on my corner for three straight weeks. She would emerge from her makeshift home—constructed from tarps and abandoned pieces of trash — with a broom and would sweep the sidewalks surrounding her temporary domicile.

Then, one day, she and all of her possessions were gone. Just gone. Not a trace of her. Or her belongings.

With the pandemic and the new influx of people in need, we can’t criminalize suffering. The Tenderloin might appear safer, less dirty in the short term, but the problem will inevitably bleed elsewhere. I’ve already seen things in my neighborhood worsen since the state of emergency was enacted.

Part of my Jackson and the trash series.

Even on Friday, as I was walking Jackson and Macho on Larkin Street, we came across an individual who was either looking for drugs or running away from a drug deal.

He looked desperate. And I wasn’t sure where that desperation would take him.

On our walks, Jackson, Macho, and I have had to maneuver our way around piles and piles of trash throughout the pandemic. I’m petrified of walking Macho because of the unbelievable amount of human and animal feces that are on the sidewalk. In addition, there are shards of broken glass from smashed car windows littering the sidewalks everywhere. It is maddening.

In 2020, Madam Breed ordered sweeps of homeless encampments (that she denied requesting, but were later proven in published text messages) that moved people experiencing homelessness out of Mid-Market in hopes of cleaning up Market Street. And, it did — for a bit. But it just ended up pushing people into other neighborhoods that were not being policed as vigorously.

It’s a fact that communities with resources that support their residents are more likely to be the safest. The same, however, can’t be said for communities that simply increase police presence… because, if the past two years have taught us anything, police brutality in America is devastating on many levels.

I have known a few police officers in my life. The first one arrested me for having sex with another guy in a public bathroom when I was a teenager, and the second was dating a close friend of mine — who later turned out to be a Trump supporter and anti-vaxer — and now most recently someone employed by SFPD, who I believe fits the job description and takes their responsibilities as someone who serves the public thoughtfully.

Likewise, a healthy neighborhood needs funds to help with housing, food security, and addiction treatment to prevent crime.

I don’t have all the answers here, as I’m not a politician — I’m just one gorgeous drag queen trying to make a difference in the world. Still, I agree with the joint statement that the San Francisco Latinx, Harvey Milk, and Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Clubs put out, urging the mayor to withdraw the emergency intervention.

Because, yes: As far as I know, this state of emergency will simply bring more police into the Tenderloin — which will cost money, and that money must come from somewhere. But as we all should know, criminalizing the most vulnerable among us will only lead to more suffering in the end. And even filthier streets.



Juanita MORE!

High glamour, drag irreverence, danceable beats, culinary delectables, political activism and a philanthropic heart.