I first encountered Julie Pitta in 2021, the summer of recall fever. Committees coordinated their volunteers and signature collectors to scour San Francisco strategically setting up tables. Eager voters lined up, grabbing a clipboard to sign petitions in their show of support of the cause.
Julie Pitta frequented the bustling Clement Street Farmers Market, held each Sunday morning in San Francisco’s Richmond District. There’s lots of reliable foot traffic there. One day, she wandered over to our table where I along with volunteers collected signatures for the effort to recall DA Chesa Boudin. Our table was an ironing board actually, with pens, petitions and signage. Several of us wore our unmistakable Recall Team shirts and hoodies. You couldn’t miss us.
Pitta was indeed curious – but no, she was not a supporter of recalling the now-ousted Boudin; she was, in fact a staunch supporter of Chesa, and part of a competing group at a table a block away.
Directly across the street from our setup, barely a 10 second walk, was another, different signature-gathering effort: three embattled SFUSD school district board commissioners were being threatened with a recall, and that table was manned by recall committee volunteers with their respective petitions. That group and our group developed a friendship, referring petition signers back and forth across the street to each other.
One day, an infamous day, a certain man by the name of Jason Kruta was caught stealing petitions from the school board recall table. The incident was caught on camera by one of our Chesa Recall Team members who ran over to the action amid shouting and demands to return the papers. Mr. Kruta was later identified, charged, arrested, sued, deposed and ultimately given a slap on the wrist in exchange for an apology to the SFUSD recall group. Further digging revealed Mr. Kruta was a DSA member (Democratic Socialists of America) and cult adherent.
A few days later, a banner put on an overpass by yours truly and some volunteers on a footbridge over busy Geary Blvd, which had a simple but very large Recall Chesa Boudin message. Within minutes of us walking down to street level to check the banner’s positioning, a woman named Karen Fleshman arrived, walked up the stairs to the overpass level, took a large pair of scissors from a tote bag and cut the zip ties securing the banner. She grabbed the banner, neatly folded it up, and walked away with the recall committee property. The incident was caught on camera as well, to be covered as breaking news by NBC later that day.
Months later, approaching the Chesa Boudin recall election in June 2022, several Recall Team volunteers were again out on the streets handing out “Vote Yes on Recall” paraphernalia. We set up large posters and banners near busy streets and thoroughfares with foot traffic, including in the western neighborhoods of San Francisco like Park Presidio and Lake Street. A large, public group bike ride was scheduled that day along the route and as the crowds moved along the street just passing by our recall banners, a guy came over and demanded we pack up the recall supplies and leave. We had a brief standoff, again, caught on video. This time, we did not relent, we stood our ground and the man walked off frustrated.
Fast forward to this past week. Richmond District resident Julie Pitta does not support the candidate currently seeking election as supervisor (city council member) who’s challenging the incumbent left-wing. Pitta has posted often on social media her criticism and negative views and talking points in blasting the candidate. Last week, she entered a café, took a campaign poster placed in the window for the candidate for supervisor and walked out with it, tearing it in half and jumping into a waiting car. Not only was a patron inside the cafe able to capture Pitta holding the evidence, but surveillance cameras inside the café caught her in action entirely, from entering the premises, removing the poster from the window, and exiting towards the car streetside.
Julie Pitta in action – watch Julie Pitta do her small part to subvert the political process! pic.twitter.com/090rQLkkmN
— Terry Whalen (@tdwhalenho) February 4, 2024
Local activists got word of the incident and went on social media with the evidence. Outrage ensued, sleuths recognized her from the photos and video. Until yesterday, Pitta worked as a columnist for a neighborhood newspaper. She was also a board member of the SF Berniecrats, a well-known far-Left political group initially enamored of, and named after, the politician Bernie Sanders.
Once outed, Julie Pitta faced fierce criticism. The Berniecrats distanced themselves from her and her actions, and ultimately the neighborhood newspaper chief fired her.
There is a commonalty here: The existence of, and preponderance of, rogue, counter-culture radicals who have become increasingly emboldened to take matters into their own hands, to break law and at times, break property. And they are not afraid to get caught. Julie Pitta, Jason Kruta, Karen Fleshman, the unidentified man demanding we leave, they all feel the entitlement to make demands upon voters and causes they do not agree with.
Rogue DAs, an overloaded criminal justice system, the defund police department movement and downsized prosecutors’ offices leads to prioritizing these political crimes at the lower rung of the ladder. Yet, these are indeed crimes. Emboldened individuals take action on issues they feel strongly about, beyond respectful engaged with friends, neighbors, local voters and newspaper columns. That’s the danger.
We must continue our neighborhood watch efforts, bring these individuals to justice and accountability, ensuring they face the consequences for their actions and misdeeds and for us to be a counter to the ideological groupthink which has become the real threat to our democracy.
Remember in 2022 during the Chesa Boudin recall effort, this guy (Marmot Man), wanted volunteers to pick up and leave the Richmond District. Hilarity ensued. What's with these self-entitled delusional people in this part of San Francisco? pic.twitter.com/HG9JdtgCbN
— Richie Greenberg (@greenbergnation) February 5, 2024
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