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We're Losing San Francisco

Even Whole Foods is Abandoning Gotham-by-the-Bay

The footage is grainy and obscure. A man stumbles on the sidewalk after appearing to try to enter the lobby of a building. A car drives by. The man tries to wave it down, to no avail.

The video switches to another camera, this one outside. The footage is suddenly pristine, and the clarity of the horrific spectacle is unnerving. It appears to be the same sequence of events from another angle. We see Bob Lee, founder of CashApp, struggling to stay alive. He collapses, gets up, tries to flag down the car. He moves out of the camera frame and the video, published by the Daily Mail, ends. But we know from the headlines that he died shortly after.

To date, we know next to nothing about the circumstances of Lee’s killing. The police have no suspect. We have no idea whether it was a random attack or a premeditated and targeted one. We do know, however, that the city in which Bob Lee died has become increasingly lawless.

Michael and I have reported extensively on crime, drugs, and homelessness in San Francisco. Michael wrote an entire book on the subject. Just last week, the day after Lee’s murder, we spent an evening in the Tenderloin, interviewing street addicts. 

As usual, we witnessed numerous drug deals, transacted as casually as a purchase at a convenience store. We watched five-foot flames rise from a mattress lying on the sidewalk of an alleyway; it was ignited, a homeless man told us, by a cigarette or a drug pipe. We watched a young homeless woman suffering a prolonged, terrifying mental breakdown. We called 911 but after nearly 15 minutes, nobody had arrived to help, despite the fact that we were four-and-a-half blocks from a hospital and a police station was less than three blocks away.

The next day, about three blocks from where we called 911, a drug addict gave birth to a baby on the sidewalk. That was the same block on which a man was stabbed to death in his home last fall.

We’re losing San Francisco. Why won’t its political leaders act?

What They’re Not Telling You

The full video is for paid subscribers

Leighton Woodhouse