San Francisco’s descent into a retelling of the classic dystopian novel "Lord of the Flies" angered and then motivated Ricci Wynne.
The 36-year-old recovering drug addict’s frustration with his crime-ridden, fentanyl-infested hometown inspired him to use his smartphone as a mirror. For the past three months, he’s documented the city’s decay in a series of raw cellphone videos posted on his Twitter feed @rawricci415.
On July 8, Wynne released a 41-second video of himself standing in front of a school bus as children exited the vehicle. He encouraged them to say “goodbye” and “get home safe.” He then panned the camera to what awaited them just steps from the bus – a gaggle of homeless drug addicts lining the street. He tweeted:
“Now ask yourself this question. Would you want your children to walk through this squalor just to get home from school?”
He tagged President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and San Francisco Chief of Police Bill Scott. The video has nearly 3 million views. That’s a huge number for a Twitter feed started in May of this year and a little more than 9,000 followers.
Wynne is not a political activist. He has no political affiliation. Nine months ago, he was an inmate at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County. He served 36 months for trafficking cocaine and gun possession. During the day, he works at the Billie Holiday Center, a facility that helps ex-cons and drug abusers re-enter society. At night, he waits tables at a Topas bar, the Pawn Shop. He works and lives in a three-block radius around 6th Mission, a popular area in San Francisco. He documents what he sees on his walks to and from work.
“I love my city. It’s just in demise,” he told me Wednesday night. “I feel as though these policies that are being implemented in San Francisco don’t help. It’s so hard for me being a recovering addict, being a criminal, the odds are already stacked against me. It’s hard for me to walk down the street and not be aggressively offered to buy or sell drugs.
“It’s all in plain view. People using drugs. Government entities have sanctioned tents. They have basically set up glorified smoke shops for drug addicts. Anything a drug addict would want, they have it there for you. It’s hard for me. It’s really hard. It’s a poisonous environment.”
It’s "Lord of the Flies." San Francisco is headquarters for Beelzebub, one of the seven princes of hell.
Wynne is holding a mirror to the faces of the people who claim they care about poor people and kids. He’s trying to hold them accountable. Harris, Pelosi, Feinstein, and Breed are California female politicians. They’re progressives fighting the evil scourge of systemic racism. So are Biden and Scott.
They’re the overseers of a hell they created and now maintain on earth.
In a video Wynne posted on June 28, he captured a young man on the street dying of a fentanyl overdose. Wynne resuscitated the man with NARCAN nasal spray. It’s a prescription opioid overdose treatment.
Wynne tweeted: “On my way home from the rehab center I work at I came across this young man overdosing on fentanyl. Lucky for him I had Narcan and I was able to revive him.”
Sadly, the young man did not feel lucky.
“I thought he would be thankful,” Wynne told me. “But he was actually very angry.”
Unbeknownst to Wynne, he’s channeling old-school Michael Moore and the 1989 documentary "Roger & Me." The doc chronicled the devastating impact of General Motors’ shutdown of manufacturing plants in Flint, Michigan.
"Roger & Me" made Michael Moore rich and famous. Wynne’s unintentional trolling of Nancy Pelosi’s base city will likely land him in trouble. In the 30 years since Moore’s first doc, America has significantly reduced the rewards and significantly amplified the consequences of speaking truth to power.
The truth is America’s relaxing of social norms related to drugs has severe consequences. Wynne has lived it and seen it. His mother and father were both addicts. His mother walked the streets as a prostitute in San Francisco. His dad sold drugs and pimped Wynne’s mother. Wynne, his parents, and his three siblings lived as gypsies, moving from homeless shelter to car to motel to apartment to homeless shelter to car to motel. Wynne attended seven different high schools.
As bad as his childhood was, Wynne is convinced things are much worse today.
“Going through the '80s,” he said, “my parents used to hide and smoke their drugs. They were paranoid about their usage. Paranoid. Ashamed. These people today are shameless. They have no shame. They’re advocating for them too much. They gotta be pushed in the right direction. We have safe injection sites. It’s an oxymoron. There’s no way to safely inject fentanyl sold to you from a guy off the streets. You have no idea what it’s laced with.”
The lack of shame and the normalization of drugs are turning major cities into hellholes and corrupting the kids who live in them.
“You can’t tell me it doesn’t traumatize those kids having to walk by that squalor every day,” Wynne said. “It affects me in a negative way. It desensitizes you. It dehumanizes you. It gives you a callousness that just grows.”