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The San Francisco gentrification movement’s effect on illicit drug sales and minorities
San Francisco has always been a metropolis defined by metamorphosis. From being one of the central hubs for the civil rights movement during the 1960s to becoming a modern symbol of the rising LGBT voice, the City by the Bay has played an active role in a wide range of national issues. Despite this, there is one pressing development within the city that its local government and various communities have had difficulty resolving: gentrification.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gentrification as, “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” San Francisco has been a primary example of this phenomenon, with its booming tech industry inviting a sizeable population of high-paid individuals to live within its urban confines. As a result of this residential influx, the area’s existing demographic of lower-middle class and impoverished individuals have voiced concern multiple times without a substantial response from city hall.
When explored in a more comprehensive manner, the effects of gentrification become more problematic. Specifically, the overall issue is significantly tied to race relations in addition to socioeconomic status. According to the San Francisco Police Department’s arrest statistics between 2009 and 2014, 53 percent of all drug-related detainments were of African Americans (SFGov.com N/A).
Furthermore, a specific initiative aimed at reducing the sale of drugs near schools in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, called Operation Safe Schools, resulted in the arrest of 37 drug dealers selling crack cocaine, heroin or Oxycontin who were then indicted on federal charges. This finding brings a larger, underlying issue into view, especially when reports of undercover informants making visual preferences of their busts are taken into account (SF Weekly N/A).
According to San Francisco public defender Peter Santina, “You can also illegally search a homeless person of any race without any worry that it will come back to you… It’s much easier to arrest people for drugs in public who are too poor to buy and sell their drugs indoors or get a prescription and buy from the pharmacy.”
While the issue has a number of equally important, yet opposing arguments, the main problem is San Francisco’s inability to provide for its rapidly peaking population due to its physically limited acreage. Overall, the perpetual squeezing of space and the financially crippling needs of poorer people are leading to more desperate drug deals and resulting in more destructive dependencies. If you or a loved one has been impacted by these residual effects, contact the San Francisco DTRC by live chatting online or calling us at anytime.