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Group of mothers erect billboards calling for San Francisco to crack down on open air drug markets

A group of moms in San Francisco erected a billboard with a bold message warning people to stay away from the city, which is plagued by the ongoing drug crisis, while calling on city officials to take action.

The ‘Mothers Against Drug Deaths’ organization paid $25,000 for the new billboard unveiled Monday in Union Square. It reads: ‘Famous all over the world for our brains, beauty and now dirt cheap fentanyl.’

The message, sprayed in front of an image of the Golden Gate Bridge, refers to the opiate that has flooded the city’s open-air drug markets in recent years, leading to a staggering rise in overdose deaths.

The latest move is part of a campaign “meant to warn tourists not to visit the city, citing deadly open-air drug markets,” according to a statement. release by the group.

“Parents around the world need to know that San Francisco is unsafe for children and families,” said Jacqui Berlinn, co-founder of Mothers Against Drug Deaths. “My son is at risk of death because the San Francisco city council, with the support of Governor Gavin Newsom, refuses to arrest him for breaking the law and mandating treatment.”

'Mothers Against Drug Deaths' paid $25,000 for the billboard unveiled Monday in Union Square that reads: 'Famous all over the world for our brains, beauty and now dirt cheap fentanyl'

‘Mothers Against Drug Deaths’ paid $25,000 for the billboard unveiled Monday in Union Square that reads: ‘Famous all over the world for our brains, beauty and now dirt cheap fentanyl’

The latest move is part of a campaign

The latest move is part of a campaign “meant to warn tourists not to visit the city, citing deadly open-air drug markets” (as pictured) according to a release from the group

The message, sprayed in front of an image of the Golden Gate Bridge, hints at the opiate that has flooded the city's open-air drug markets in recent years, leading to a staggering rise in overdose deaths.

The message, sprayed in front of an image of the Golden Gate Bridge, hints at the opiate that has flooded the city’s open-air drug markets in recent years, leading to a staggering rise in overdose deaths.

Berlinn said her 31-year-old son, who has been an addict and living on the streets for 10 years, has had moments of sobriety.

But the city has made it increasingly difficult for him to seek help, she said. “It’s dangerous and actually crazy because you can walk through many of the city streets and see hundreds of drug dealers in public,” Berlinn added.

“You can literally see them sell the drugs to an addict… and then watch that addict walk a few paces and use…holding the foil in their hands, sticking the needles in their arms.”

Berlinn told SFGATE that she recently spoke to her son and he agrees with what the group is doing.

“It was a wonderful miracle that he called,” she said. “He totally agrees with what we’re doing. He sees new faces coming to town every day to buy fentanyl. He sees high school students, they come into town and buy fentanyl and bring it back to the suburbs.”

Berlinn and other mothers, including Gina McDonald and Michelle Leopold, raised money to buy the billboard, with the aim of warning tourists and families about drugs on the city’s streets.

McDonald, whose daughter struggles with addiction, said she was frustrated with the city’s continued handling of the crisis.

“We keep hearing that we want to meet them where they are,” McDonald said. “They meet them where they are and leave them there.”

The mothers said they had received a response for the damage the billboard warning could do to the city, but they said they hope the message will eventually compel city leaders to take action.

The center in Tenderloin, which opened on January 18, aims to connect people with services, but disturbing images show an illegal drug-consuming place now littered with needles and full of addicts rushing in broad daylight

The center in Tenderloin, which opened on January 18, aims to connect people with services, but disturbing images show an illegal drug-consuming place now littered with needles and full of addicts rushing in broad daylight

The center is equipped to serve up to 100 people at a time who suffer from drug abuse and mental health problems, and is connected to long-term and short-term services such as health care and housing

The center is equipped to serve up to 100 people at a time who suffer from drug abuse and mental health problems, and is connected to long-term and short-term services such as health care and housing

The communications center is located at 1172 Market Street, in the United Nations Plaza, the city's largest open-air drug market.  The supervised drug use area is a gated outdoor area of ​​the liaison center, where many people were fumbling with drug paraphernalia.

The communications center is located at 1172 Market Street, in the United Nations Plaza, the city’s largest open-air drug market. The supervised drug use area is a gated outdoor area of ​​the liaison center, where many people were fumbling with drug paraphernalia.

The clutch center (in blue) is located at 1172 Market Street, in the United Nations Plaza in the Tenderloin neighborhood of Ssan Francisco.  The drug use guarded area is a gated outdoor area of ​​the liaison center.  Photos taken by DailyMail.com show people on the street in the Tenderloin neighborhood (highlighted in red) who also use drugs

The clutch center (in blue) is located at 1172 Market Street, in the United Nations Plaza in the Tenderloin neighborhood of Ssan Francisco. The drug use guarded area is a gated outdoor area of ​​the liaison center. Photos taken by DailyMail.com show people on the street in the Tenderloin neighborhood (highlighted in red) who also use drugs

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Illegal fentanyl appeared on the streets of San Francisco in 2018 and is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine to increase potency.

Overdose deaths rose rapidly with the advent of fentanyl, and deaths related to the drug rose from nine in 2009 to 230 in 2019, the city said in a report. In 2021, the city reported 474 deaths from fentanyl.

The city has taken several steps to address the fentanyl epidemic, including adding new beds for drug and mental health services and launching the Street Overdose Response team to provide care for those at high risk of overdose, reported SFGATE.

Despite Breed's promise to tackle rampant crime and homelessness, people still live on the streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood

Despite Breed’s promise to tackle rampant crime and homelessness, people still live on the streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood

People in the connection center cling to each other in drone footage captured just after the center opened in January

People in the connection center cling to each other in drone footage captured just after the center opened in January

The illegal controlled drug consumption site near the linkage center, where half a dozen people witnessed smoking fentanyl in an outdoor area on the site, and two people passed out

The illegal controlled drug consumption site near the linkage center, where half a dozen people witnessed smoking fentanyl in an outdoor area at the site, and two people passed out

San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city, streamlining the city’s licensing rules to allow the docking center to open quickly. The facility connects people who live on the streets and struggle with substance use and mental health problems, with services.

The state of emergency expired last month, but the mayor renewed aspects of the statement to allow city workers to serve as emergency response officers to respond to problems in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which is being particularly hard hit.

“The mayor agrees that we must end open-air drug trafficking in San Francisco,” the mayor’s office wrote in an emailed statement.

“Police officers are arresting every day and in recent weeks an additional 20 officers have been added to the Tenderloin district to support our emergency response initiative. Police have seized more than 10 kilograms of fentanyl in the Tenderloin area this year alone, which is about four times more than in the same period last year. We know that more needs to be done to make more arrests, but we also need to be held accountable for the people who deal drugs, commit violence and make our communities less safe.”

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