President Donald Trump, along with his father, Fred Trump, were the defendants in a 1973 lawsuit brought by the Justice Department, in which housing and civil rights activists laid bare the Trumps’ practices of turning away black renters. “It was front-page news,” The New York Times stated in 2016, “and for Donald, amounted to his debut in the public eye.”

Now, the man who began his real estate career being sued for discrimination has a new target: California’s homeless.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, Trump is “threatening San Francisco with some type of violation notice for what he described as environmental pollution.” Trump claims this unspecified pollution is being caused by the city’s homeless population.

On Air Force One, he said that homeless people in San Francisco are contributing to ocean pollution “because of waste, including needles going through storm sewers.”

However, as LA Times reporters Benjamin Oreskes and Colleen Shalby explained, “It was unclear what Trump was referring to, and there was [no] clarification about what rules San Francisco supposedly violated.”

“It’s a terrible situation — that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” the president announced to reporters, adding, “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco — they’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”

Trump also said the Environmental Protection Agency would be involved—in putting out the notice. But EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler would not elaborate on Trump’s comments when he addressed a press conference on Thursday. “I can’t comment on potential enforcement action,” he said.

Bloomberg reporters Jordan Fabian and Ryan Beene point out that Trump’s attacks on California’s homeless are part of a larger narrative, “casting the state as a cautionary tale for Democratic rule ahead of the 2020 election.”

Trump has, according to Fabian and Beene, “singled out California over its burgeoning homeless problems, moved to eviscerate its authority to regulate auto emissions, and stopped at the border wall, highlighting his disdain of its policy of offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.”

Trump also said, without evidence, that the homeless crisis was forcing people to leave California cities: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening.” He added, of California residents, “They can’t believe what’s happening.”

In response, San Francisco Mayor London Breed told the LA Times that Trump’s comments were “ridiculous” and that any detritus from the city’s storm drains go through a wastewater treatment plant, not “into the bay or ocean.”

Human waste and needles may be an issue for certain San Francisco neighborhoods, but, as The LA Times states, “The city set up public toilets and last year announced [the] formation of a special six-person ‘poop patrol’ team to clean up the human waste.”

Mayor Breed also noted that San Francisco is setting up a number of initiatives to alleviate homelessness, including adding 1,000 homeless shelter beds and a $600-million bond to finance the construction of affordable housing and provide support services for people with mental health and addiction issues.

During a press conference on Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsome mentioned Trump’s “assaults” on California, vowing, “We’re going to push back when he tries to go after our Dreamers, and go after access to reproductive rights, go after our diverse communities and we’re going to have the backs of people of the state and our values.”


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