San Francisco

Opponents of Homeless Center Planned for San Francisco's Embarcadero Receive Death Threats

A heated conversation is turning hateful, and potentially violent.

Several neighbors living in the Rincon Hill area of San Francisco say they have received death threats for donating to a GoFundMe page that opposes a new homeless shelter planned for the waterfront.

At least five people they have received death threats or violent messages all by voicemail.

On social media, the discourse has been pretty rough. But now, it appears to be getting worse.

The fight over the 200-bed homeless shelter reached a crescendo earlier this week with San Francisco Mayor London Breed pleading with the crowd that showed up to oppose the shelter on the Embarcadero.

“Do you want to hear me, or are you just going to scream?” the Breed asked opponents of the shelter at one point during the raucoaus meeting.

But verbal sparring between the mayor and opponents may just be scratching the surface of an atmosphere of anger.

“They were trying to intimidate me, so I won’t show up for community meetings, so I won’t say anything, so I will just, fade into the background,” said one of the women who filed a death threat report, and who wants to remain anonymous to protect her identity.

One woman who spoke to NBC Bay Area about threats she received for opposing the site also didn’t want to show her face on camera, for her safety.

But she played this voicemail of a man, accusing her of donating to a go-fund-me account.

“If this isn’t true, then this doesn’t concern you. But if it is true, I’m going to ask you to kill yourself. Idiot b___. I f___ your dad.”

Here’s another recording – from a female caller – to a different victim.

“Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife…and lay low and wait on the steps of the palaces of the rich, and stab or shoot the owners if they come out.”

SFPD couldn’t locate any death threat reports today though one victim showed us documentation of her visit.

On social media, some of the backlash over the center has been brutal.

Twitter users providing the names, pictures and backgrounds of donors, declaring, “take notes!”

Even the founder of a competing GoFundMe, William Fitzgerald, got his personal information revealed to the public.

The money he’s raised so far will go to the Homeless Coalition of San Francisco. The proposal has other powerful supporters, including Salesforce CEO, Mark Benioff and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who previously sparred on another city proposition to fund the homeless: a tax on big businesses to fight the city’s homelessness problem.

The CEOs of GitHub and Twilio also appear to have donated to the GoFundMe page supporting the center.

“We recently lost one of our grants, about 30% of our budget, so this is going to help us,” said Sam Lew, the coalition’s policy director of the GoFundMe funds.

He added that any death threat is “unacceptable,” but typically, those threats are going to a different target.

“In any case, there’s no room for violence. But I think that we have to focus on the fact that homeless people are the ones who are victims of violent crimes, and violent speech—most of the time.”

The victims of these calls told NBC Bay Area their position is being misrepresented. They said they don’t oppose shelters, they just don’t understand the choice for one at the Embarcadero.

According to the city’s 2017 count of the homeless population in a single night, there were about 7,000 people on the streets or in shelters.

Police have encourages anyone who’s been threatened to reach out.

Information from CNBC was included in this article.

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