The mother of a San Francisco fentanyl user said the city’s liberal policies has enabled open-air drug markets and her son’s addiction.
“My son, who is addicted to fentanyl and living on the streets of San Francisco, has told me that … San Francisco is like hell because you can get everything that you want to stay addicted very, very easily and there’s no pressure to get well,” Jacqui Berlinn told Fox News.
Berlinn’s 31-year-old son has been battling addiction and homelessness in different forms for years and has attempted rehabilitation several times. However, San Francisco’s progressive policies soften the consequences for drug user and sellers, harming both the city and users alike, according to Berlinn.
Mothers Against Drug Deaths, which Berlinn co-founded, aims to close the open-air drug markets in San Francisco.
“We don’t believe that it’s healthy for communities, for the children or the people living in the communities,” Berlinn said. “And it’s not healthy for the drug addicts or the mentally ill people that have access to those drugs without any type of repercussion.”
At least 129 people died from overdoses in San Francisco between January and April, with the majority being fentanyl-related, according to city government data.
Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, has been criticized for policies such as eliminating cash bail and gang enhancements. He faces a recall election next week.
Mayor London Breed announced in January that the city leased space in the Tenderloin neighborhood where drug users can receive meals and showers. It was initially called the Tenderloin Linkage Center and was intended to connect addicts to social services.
But only a small fraction of drug users vising the center were referred or connected to substance use treatment, city data shows. The word “linkage” was recently dropped from the center’s name.
Initially, Berlinn was optimistic that the Tenderloin Center could help her son and other users.
“We were really excited about that because it was supposed to link people that are on the streets to resources that could possibly help them get well, into rehabilitation or get some form of housing,” she told Fox News.
“My son told me when he first went to the Linkage Center, he couldn’t believe that people were using and selling inside,” Berlinn said.
“So he’s in bondage to this,” she continued. “We’ve tried to get him well, but because San Francisco makes it so hard to get off of these drugs, and they’re always right there in your face, even in the Linkage Center, even in the places where you go to get help, it’s really, really difficult.”
Mothers Against Drug Deaths has funded billboards highlighting the widespread use and sale of fentanyl in the California city, a step Berlinn said she hoped would prompt conversation and change.
Berlinn said she and her son have seen younger users show up to the city to use and purchase drugs.
“I’ve only seen the open drug market growing,” she said. My son’s “concerned because he’s seeing kids that look like high school students coming into the city, buying fentanyl and then going back out … and taking that into the suburbs.”
“So I’m getting very, very concerned about this spreading further outside of San Francisco and into the suburbs,” Berlinn told Fox News. “It’s just too dangerous.”