Expert calls the incident "political," as Breed is running for re-election with challenges to gain the Asian community vote
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the first time, we're hearing from the San Francisco restaurant owner and rapper who is at the center of controversy after releasing a music video criticizing Mayor London Breed. After the NAACP denounced the song and demanded it be removed, political insiders and advocacy groups are weighing in and explaining how this illustrates the importance of the Asian American vote.
"In the course of three years, I had seven break-ins and vandalism. That was a tipping point in deciding, you know what? Reach out to the city, nobody is going to respond," says Xiao Chuan, who goes by Chino Yang. Yang is the owner of Kung Food and AceKing BBQ in San Francisco.
It was this series of frustrations which drove Yang to produce "San Francisco, Our Home." The song is part love letter - and part exasperation.
Lyrics include: "San Francisco, that's my home, let me put it in a song so you never get it wrong... no matter what I do... it's the place I love." and take a critical turn toward the city's mayor.
"London Breed, you ain't nothing but a clown. When we really needed you, you ain't never been around."
The rap accuses Mayor Breed of failing the city's small businesses and abandoning the city's Asian American community.
"Everybody let me see your hands in the air, throw your two middle fingers up at the mayor," the song continues.
But the critical tone upset some members of the Black community, including the Reverent Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP. Brown, rushed to defend Breed and expressed his displeasure over the rap in this voicemail to Yang.
"I asked you repudiate that rap and since you have not, and I told the Black community you did not, the community will make a public statement calling you out for the wrong you did to the mayor. The mayor is not responsible for the crime in the city," he said in the recording.
Despite Yang issuing an apology on Instagram shortly after, Brown insisted the video be taken down and held a press conference to condemn Yang's work.
"This young rapper needs to get his lessons... and sit down a learn!" he exclaimed at the conference.
Brown declined to comment further when asked by ABC7 News. But the back-and-forth is an example of the political challenges Breed faces as she tries to win a second full term. Her supporters in the Black community say she's unfairly blamed.
"Please do not call out our mayor again!" says Phelicia Jones.
AAPI community leaders, frustrated by property crimes and attacks targeting elderly Asian residents, have become increasingly critical. The civil rights organization, the Asian Justice Movement issued a statement called Brown's actions toward Chino "threats" and issued a statement asking for collaboration between the Black and Asian communities and demanding an apology.
ABC7 News insider Phil Matier calls the entire incident "political."
He explained how Breed is competing with several challenges for support of the Asian American community in San Francisco. Matier continues on to say her political future can depend on whether she can earn that population's vote.
"It's an election season and Mayor Breed is up for a really tough election drive. The concerns raised in the video are legitimate ones. It's about crime it's about the streets and whether or not the mayor is doing her job," says Matier.
In a city where Asian Americans make up a third of the population, recent races have proven how important the Asian vote is, especially among the young and the conservatives are to their political landscape.
"We saw it in the school board and elections and recall, they were a primary force behind that. The recall of progressive D.A. Chesa Boudin who they felt weren't doing enough about crime particularly ones against Asian Americans and the elderly.
It's long been said you can't get elected with just the Asian vote in San Francisco, but you can't get elected without it or at least a big portion of it," says Matier.
Bob Sakaniwa, director of Policy and Advocacy with nonprofit APIA Vote says it's a trend happening nationwide.
"They certainly played a crucial role in battleground states, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada... they came out in numbers which exceeded the margin of victory for the winning candidate in that state," says Sakaniwa. "Clearly if the Asian American community mobilizes they'd have a huge impact in these critical states."
Sakinawa believes political campaigns still need to do more outreach to attract the API vote to the polls.
"In the 2022 mid-term cycle, the RNC and DNC didn't do a great job reaching out with Asian Americans," he says. "Based off national parties based on their outreach, there is still a lot of room for growth."
Mayor Breed's office told ABC7 News in an email they would not be commenting on the rap song or Brown's press conference.
However, they sent me a statement touting investments in programs for the Asian American community... and an 80% decline in hate crimes since 2021.
Former Mayor Willie Brown, who is an ally to Breed, was slated to appear at the press conference but did not show.
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