San Franciscans Rally: Neighbor’s House Burned After Racist Threats | Not in Our Town

San Franciscans Rally: Neighbor’s House Burned After Racist Threats


Terry Williams; Image Courtesy of KQED Local


Dozens of San Francisco neighbors gathered for a fundraiser and show of support for a family who lost their home in a possible hate crime. After a series of racist threats,  the home of Terry Williams and his elderly parents was set on fire. Williams is a well-known and beloved dog walker in the San Francisco Alamo Square neighborhood. On May 21, while Terry was meeting with city leaders about the racist incidents, his parents were at home when the blaze began. They remain under medical treatment for smoke inhalation and burns. The San Francisco community has rallied around Williams and his family, offering support and solidarity during this challenging time.  


KTVU Neighborhood Meeting:

Recent Hateful Events

Terry Williams, a lifelong resident of Alamo Square, has been a familiar and friendly face in the neighborhood for years. Known for his dedication to his work and the community, Williams recently became the target of racist threats. In late April and early May, he received two disturbing packages at his home containing racist slurs, death threats, and hateful symbols, including dolls with nooses around their necks.

Then, on May 21, a fire broke out at the Williams family's residence on Grove Street, forcing Terry, his parents, and their three dogs out of their home. Firefighters responded swiftly, rescuing Williams' mother, who was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and his father, who suffered burns.`

Supervisor Dean Preston, who has been actively involved, stated, "Today, a horrific fire burned the Williams family home on Grove Street. This comes after weeks of racial terror and threats directed at this family"​ (KQED)​.

The San Francisco Police Department is actively investigating both the fire and the preceding racist threats as hate crimes. While there are no definitive links yet, the timing and nature of the incidents have raised serious concerns among residents and local officials. Supervisor Dean Preston has called for prioritized investigations into these acts of racial terror.

Image courtesy of NBC News/ KQED

Community Support and Response

In the wake of these painful events, the San Francisco Alamo Square community has shown tremendous support for the Williams family. Neighbors have organized fundraisers, including a GoFundMe campaign that has raised significant funds to help the family rebuild their lives. As of the latest updates, the community had raised over $145,000 to support the Williams family. 

Signs in support of Williams and his family have been displayed around the neighborhood, emphasizing unity and the rejection of racism.



Image courtesy of NBC News

"We’re here because we love Terry, and we will not tolerate racism or crimes here in our district," said a neighbor during a rally at Alamo Square Park​ (KQED)​​ (Mission Local)​.

Local activists like Susan Porter Beckstead are encouraging the community to mobilize for Terry and United Against Hate (UAH) Week, a campaign dedicated to raising awareness about hate and bias while fostering community solidarity. Hate incidents like this highlight the importance of coming together to support victims of hate and to promote inclusion and unity. The outpouring of support for Williams serves as a powerful example of how communities can mobilize against hate, reflecting the core mission of United Against Hate Week.

“Looking out for your neighbors and taking care of one another is what changed this neighborhood back in the day and it remains true for everyone everywhere! It was really heartwarming to see the community gather together to support Terry and his family. Public officials are already on board, community meetings are planned to deal with this, and neighbors are meeting one another to create more community!” neighbor and local UAH activist Susan Porter Beckstead said.

United Against Hate Week posters were distributed at the fundraiser for Terry and continue to be posted across the neighborhood.  

Sign up to participate in United Against Hate Week in your local community today!

Community Response Matters

Reflecting on the recent events, Williams said, "I'm just worried about my parents, their house and everything." highlighting his emotional turmoil (SF Standard). Despite the challenges, Terry remains focused on the safety and well-being of his family.

Terry Williams has expressed deep gratitude for the community's support. "The most important thing is where we’re going to be as a family. I wanna keep us together," Williams shared, emphasizing the significance of community in navigating these challenges​ (Mission Local)​.

"If a brother like Terry Williams can be harassed, threatened, intimidated, terrorized with his family in San Francisco, it says that more good people need to come aboard to make it uncomfortable for bad people. This should be a tipping point in San Francisco,” Reverend Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP (Mission Local).

Moving Forward

As the Williams family begins to pick up the pieces, the outpouring of community support provides a beacon of hope and resilience. The efforts to assist the family and address the broader issues of hate and racism reflect the strength and unity of the Alamo Square neighborhood. 

For those wishing to contribute, donations can be made through the ongoing GoFundMe campaign, and community members are encouraged to participate in upcoming support events.

GoFundMe Link: 

Sources Include:

  1. KQED - Neighbors Rally to Support San Francisco Dog Walker Whose Home Was Gutted by Fire
  2. Mission Local - After Devastating Fire, SF Dog Walker and Family Pick Up the Pieces
  3. SF Standard - San Francisco Dog Walker's Home Burns Down After Racist Threats
  4. Yahoo News - SF Alamo Square Dog Walker's Home Burns Weeks After Receiving Racist Threats
  5. NBC News- Black San Francisco dog walker whose house burned down says he's faced racist harassment for years
  6. Atlanta Black Star- ‘Could Have Murdered People’: San Francisco Man’s Home Set on Fire with Elderly Parents Inside Just Weeks After Receiving Racist Threats to ‘Get Out’ of Neighborhood 
  7. FOX KTVU- Community rallies around beloved SF dog walker after house fire 

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