Discrepancies Appear in Photos of Hillary Ronen Campaign HQ Graffiti

The fishy tale of the hateful graffiti that appeared on the campaign headquarters of District 9 supervisor candidate Hillary Ronen just got a little more fish-smelling.

As you may have heard, during Labor Day weekend, sometime in the early hours of Monday, September 5, someone scrawled misogynistic graffiti on the doorway of D9 candidate Hillary Ronen’s headquarters at 3417 Mission Street (between Kingston and Eugenia) in Bernal Heights.  The graffiti, which appeared to support Joshua Arce, Ronen’s foremost rival in the D9 supervisor race, said: “Vote Arce Ya C***s.”

In a Facebook post shared at 6:17 pm on Monday, Sept. 5, Hilary Ronen shared a photo of her staff as they painted over the graffiti:


Meanwhile, that same day, candidate Joshua Arce condemned the graffiti, and disavowed any involvement with it:

I was saddened to learn this morning that someone had defaced my opponent’s office with offensive and misogynistic graffiti. I reached out to Hillary to see if we can help remove the graffiti because I would never condone or stand by while someone, who claims to support me, uses hateful language and defaces private property. While this race may get contentious at times, there is no excuse for the type of behavior that was shown this morning.

So, whodunnit?

Fast-forward a few weeks, and KPIX reporter Joe Vasquez broke the story about security camera footage that captured the scene when the vile graffiti was scrawled on the Ronen HQ door:

The video shows that at 5:22 am on Monday, September 5, two people — a man and a woman — worked together as a team to vandalize the front door of Hillary Ronen’s campaign headquarters.

The  footage, which we later learned had originally been obtained by the Arce campaign, shows that the man and the woman started by walking north along the west side of Mission Street, past the 76 gas station on the corner of Mission and 30th Street.  The man is wearing dark pants and a jacket. The woman is wearing a hat and boots, and carrying a cup of coffee. After passing the gas station, the pair crosses over to the east side of Mission street before doubling-back to the Ronen campaign headquarters. Then, the video shows, as the woman stood watch, the man squatted to write something in the doorway of Ronen’s campaign headquarters. With new markings visible on the door, the duo then continued walking north on the east side of Mission Street.

The footage is grainy, somewhat dark, and somewhat distant. Nevertheless, political junkies, reporters, and (now) SFPD investigators all over town have been obsessively zooming and enhancing the video, in hopes of finding a way to identify the perpetrators shown in the video.

Admittedly, Bernalwood editor has dabbled in some of this obsessive zooming and enhancing as well. But recently, when we took a step back to look at some of the photos of the doorway taken before the graffiti was painted over, we noticed something… rather curious.

Here are two posed photos taken while Team Ronen was painting over the vile graffiti. The same people are present in both images, and both were taken within a few moments of one another:


Two versions of a moment:  Photo by Sana Saleem/48Hills, left, and Ronen campaign, right.

The photo on the left was taken by journalist Sana Saleem, and published on the 48Hills site on Monday, September 5. The photo on the right is the one shared by Hillary Ronen (and provided to media sites like MissionLocal).

It would appear that both photos were taken at almost the exact same time. The same people are in the photos, in the same places and the same postures. Likewise, the sun is in the exact same position, as you can see by when we zoom and enhance the shadow shown on the bucket of paint:


But when you put both photos side by side and pull back just a little bit more, the photos begin to diverge. Can you spot the difference?


Here’s a clue:


Innnnnnnnnnteresting! In the photo on the right — the one published and distributed by Hillary Ronen’s campaign — the campaign signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez have been replaced by campaign signs for Kim Alvarenga and Jane Kim.

Another photo shows how the doorway looked earlier that same day. Here’s a tweet posted at 1:15 pm by @acordova:


As we can see, the configuration of the signs in the earlier photo matches what’s shown in the 48Hills photograph from later that same day, with signs for Tom Temprano and Mark Sanchez displayed in the campaign HQ window.

When asked about the discrepancy, Hillary Ronen told Bernalwood: “I switched the position of the signs when I took my photo to show solidarity with other women candidates who have also been subject to hateful attacks during this election cycle.”

Editor Tim Redmond from 48Hills has confirmed that the 48Hills photo was taken by reporter Sana Saleem. Bernalwood also asked Sana Saleem if she saw the signs being changed. Saleem said that while she wasn’t at the site for long, she did not witness the signs being rearranged.

Finally, just to complete the very strange circle, while the photo from the early afternoon of Sept. 5 shows the Alsarenga-Kim signs positioned on the right side of the doorway, this photo taken by Bernalwood yesterday shows them now on the left:


21 thoughts on “Discrepancies Appear in Photos of Hillary Ronen Campaign HQ Graffiti

  1. First, Ronen is lying. The photo is clearly photoshopped not only for the many reasons apparent in the article but because the Jane Kim and Kim Alvarenga campaign posters both have different reflections in them seen nowhere else in the photo.

    Second, Ronen is a -bad- liar. That is because her false explanation is that she altered a “crime” scene. This scenario doesn’t make her seem particularly interested in assisting in any type of police investigation, and would possibly even trigger liability for her. I’m sure that Jane and Kim don’t appreciate that Ronen has now invoked their names in this mess.

    I’m sure that much more will be coming out of this evolving story. Good catch Bernalwood.

    • Why bother to use Photoshop? Why not switch the posters, as Ronan said was done, and retake the photo? They are different in many details besides just the posters and you’re not going to fix everything with Photoshop. And it wasn’t a crime scene at this point. It was a obviously a photo-op for the Ronen campaign.

  2. Well, it’s clear the two photos are different. The changed signs and the shadows in the 48 Hills photo — not present in the other — show that. But you’re reaching to say that they were taken at the same time of day. You paint bucket shadow proves nothing. Other details that would have revealed more on this question are cropped out so the comment from Saleem is meaningless. What reason do you have to disbelieve Ronen’s explanation?

    Looks like you’re trying to gin up a controversy for your favorite candidate, which wouldn’t be out of the order for Bernalwood.

  3. One more problem: In the video the star within the circle appears to be there before the vandals arrived and wrote the anti-Ronen slogan. Maybe Arce has a video of the star in circle tagging that he hasn’t shared with us yet.

  4. As an investigator, I suspected, from when the story first broke and the photo was revealed, that my theory was correct. Call it a gut feeling – one of those gumshoe things. Then we get a chance to find out, thanks to BernalWood, that there are two different images and they have been altered not in Photoshop but by the Ronen campaign people. Curious. I see this as nothing other than vile San Francisco political theater played out in an extremely contentious election year. I trust the surveillance video will identify the culprits and we would all like to know who did the dastardly crime – and whoever the suspects may be, and from whatever camp they reside (and I suspect not the Arce camp), they should be brought to justice. But, in the end, these are staged photos with way, way too many smiles. It doesn’t sit well with me. From the first reporting, something didn’t look or feel right about this story and the allegations…and it continues to be more suspicious with each passing day.

  5. Definitely looks like some not so great Photoshop. Not the greatest crime, but adds another note of manipulation to the story.

  6. I feel like an idiot for being surprised that this blog and my neighbors would accuse Hillary Ronen and her campaign of staging this. It’s like you don’t think sexism is real.

    • You’re presenting a false choice. I can absolutely believe sexism is real while simultaneously thinking this is an amateur stunt by a Ronen supporter/campaigner to grab a few votes (yours, perhaps?).

  7. Based on my own experience, it’s my opinion that Hillary Ronen is not the only woman in a leadership position in City government who has been the target of unprincipled attacks by Josh Arce. You’re really reaching to suggest that rearranging the posters inside her campaign HQ is somehow suspect. Seems you’re desperate to blame the victim here.

  8. These days I feel like so many of these stories are hoaxes i.e. Whole Foods Cake, bad tippers leaving notes, Duke Lacrosse, Rolling Stone story…the list goes on. After the hoax is found out the perpetrators usually says “well it’s all fake but glad I started a conversation”

  9. This looks suspiciously like a self serving political game. I hope the truth is uncovered before Election Day so that District 9 voters have a chance to weigh in at the ballot box. Keep the light on the issue, Bernalwood!

  10. I’LL GO FURTHER — People in public life have been known to scrawl hate messages in order to attract attention to themselves as “victims”. A former assistant pastor of the MCC church (GBLT oriented church in the Castro) was seen by neighbors painting anti-lesbian graffiti on her own garage door. Back in July a kid in Virginia sent fake racist hate messages to his own phone. In Maryland earlier in the year some black students drew graffiti of a lynching in the library. Why would they do this? It gets in the news. They get camera crews to show up.

    • @DavidK — Sure, that does happen. The other 99% of the time, however, it’s exactly how it appears on the surface. Occam’s razor, you guys.

  11. “When asked about the discrepancy, Hillary Ronen told Bernalwood: “I switched the position of the signs when I took my photo to show solidarity with other women candidates who have also been subject to hateful attacks during this election cycle.”

    Why does the article keep going after this explanation? If this article was meant to be satire, why not punch it up a little to make it clear?

    • i can’t tell if anyone discussing this whole thing is serious.

      also, for now i’m sticking to my own conspiracy theory: 2 brits, who may or may not care at all about either candidate, conspired to make a dumb joke based on arce sounding like arse. also cunt is not nearly as offensive in british english, and is very often thrown around without any sexist intent (any more than calling someone a pussy is sexist, which can of course be argued. some other time). CASE CLOSED i’m calling it a night.

  12. What’s your point- these women took a hateful, sexist act and smartly used it for their own political gain and to build support for other female candidates? Good for them! Surely there are more interesting things we could be reading about with respect to the D9 race… a report from one of the recent debates, perhaps?

  13. If that’s photoshop, that’s an awesome photoshop job. But if Bernalwood will go to these lengths to discredit a candidate, then she has my vote.

Comments are closed.