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San Francisco Voted In A Progressive District Attorney. Now He May Get Recalled.


San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive prosecutor, faces a rare recall vote in the bulk Democratic city, jeopardizing his mission of criminal justice reform.

The recall effort is being led by a gaggle called San Franciscans for Public Safety, which gathered over 50,000 signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot. If Boudin is faraway from his position within the June 7 election, mayor London Breed would appoint an interim DA until voters weighed in again within the November election.

Boudin was elected to his post in 2019 as a part of a movement of progressive prosecutors across the country — including Larry Krasner in Philadelphia — pushing back on a long time of tough-on-crime policies that increased mass incarceration and disproportionately criminalized Black and Latinx people.

Since entering office, Boudin — a former public defender whose parents spent a long time in prison — has kept campaign guarantees of eliminating money bail, holding police accountable and diverting people from the criminal legal system.

Supporters of the recall have claimed crime is on the rise in town and blamed the progressive DA. They’ve pointed to high-profile incidents that garnered significant local media attention, reminiscent of a robbery at Louis Vuitton in Union Square last yr and a drunk driver released on parole who hit and killed two women on Latest 12 months’s Eve. Some San Francisco residents have reported feeling unsafe resulting from a perceived increase in property crime, reminiscent of automobile thefts and residential burglaries.

“It’s clear that San Franciscans have had enough and wish a recent course for our city — one which doesn’t include Boudin as district attorney,” said Mary Jung, chair of the recall campaign. She pointed to an increase in homicides and property crimes, saying residents “have had enough of Boudin’s failed leadership.”

But a widespread sentiment amongst residents of town that crime is worsening just isn’t supported by data.

A San Francisco Chronicle evaluation found violent crime in SF actually declined through the pandemic. While murders and shootings increased in recent times, this tracks with trends across major U.S. cities. Most property crimes are also trending toward their pre-pandemic levels.

Boudin’s team has slammed the recall effort as a political tool used to reverse a reasonably won election.

“The recall campaign’s rhetoric just isn’t just false, it’s dangerously misleading,” said Julie Edwards, spokesperson for the campaign supporting Boudin against the recall.

“It tells voters there’s a singular answer to any concern about public safety and recall is the one solution, which distracts from the labor and real solutions we want to make San Francisco safer.”

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced an arrest made in a world fencing operation out of a boba tea store that was sending goods stolen from cars to other states and countries — May 10, 2022, San Francisco, California

Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

The recall is being funded by wealthy donors, including William Oberndorf, a Republican mega-donor.

Groups supporting Boudin with donations against the recall include the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union and native union chapters of the SEIU.

No elected Democrats have publicly supported the recall. Nonetheless, recent polling indicates voters in the bulk Democratic city are leaning toward recalling the progressive DA.

Some critics of Boudin have also pointed to anti-Asian violence increasing prior to now two years in San Francisco, but such hateful attacks were seen in cities across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, reported hate crimes against Asian Americans in SF went up 567% in comparison with 2020. Similarly, in Latest York City, NYPD found incidents targeting Asians rose by 361%.

Boudin won a decent race in 2019, despite mayor London Breed appointing his opponent Suzy Loftus as interim DA just weeks before the election (after the previous DA George Gascón stepped all the way down to run for DA in Los Angeles).

During his campaign, he spoke of the importance of diverting people from the criminal legal system into programs for mental health, addiction and housing. In line with town health commission, about 40% of individuals booked into San Francisco jails are homeless or insecurely housed, about one in five are diagnosed as seriously mentally ailing and about three-quarters reported substance use (not marijuana).

Jail must be a final resort,” Boudin told HuffPost in 2019. “We’d like a district attorney who understands the large picture and what’s driving crime. We are able to’t jail our way out of the issue.”

State legislators are pushing to reform the recall system in California, with state Sen. Steve Glazer (D) telling HuffPost last yr that voters want “a more democratic process” that “prevents political gamesmanship.

Last yr, a conservative campaign looking for to recall progressive Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón failed to collect enough signatures to put the query before voters. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also prevailed against an effort to recall him from his seat.

But earlier this yr, three school board members were successfully recalled from their posts — the first recall in San Francisco since 1983.

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