Friday, October 02, 2020

Police Unions Are As Much A Problem Around The Country As They Are In Los Angeles-- George Gascón For D.A.



Jackie Lacey is the first woman, and first African-American to serve as L.A. District Attorney. So for non-Angelenos it may have come as a surprise when Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, Color of Change, Nanette Barragán, the California Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Democratic Party, the Working Families Party all endorsed her opponent George Gascón. Lacey is a so-called "tough on crime" DA who has been opposed to the reform movement sweeping D.A. offices around the country. Both Eric Garcetti and Adam Schiff instinctively endorsed her... and then even they rescinded their endorsements. Black Lives Matters and the ACLU have come out strongly against the way she does her job.

So who backs her? The police unions have funneled over $3 million into her campaign and into independent expenditures backing her. And, while she takes their money, she has been criticized for her hesitance to hold police accountable: Over 600 Angelenos have been killed by police since she took office and not one police officer has been charged with murder.

Furthermore, Los Angeles County sends more people to death row than Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, combined. L.A. operates the world’s largest jail system which doubles as the nation’s largest mental health institution, and incarcerates black people 13 times more than white people. L.A. prosecutes kids as adults at alarming rates, disproportionately arrests people of color, and sends people to prison at per capita rates far exceeding the vast majority of California’s prosecutors.

What's more, Lacey’s campaign partnered with the Pluvious Group, a GOP fundraising firm that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Trump. The Pluvious Group was also at the center of a money laundering scheme that allowed, “donors to conceal their identities in filings and avoid exceeding campaign contribution limits."

Last year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed out that Pluvious had been, "involved in a Federal probe regarding a more than suspicious breakfast event they organized at Trump’s D.C. Hotel." The breakfast was part of a Federal criminal "investigation into whether foreigners contributed money to the Trump inaugural fund and PAC by possibly using American intermediaries."

That association is pregnant with implication, as a review of public records indicates that the Pluvious Group has not represented any other Democrat at the federal, state or county level, therefore raising questions as to why Lacey, who is registered as Democrat, selected the firm. It also raises questions as to why the Pluvious Group would choose Lacey to be the first Democrat with whom they’ve worked.

Goal ThermometerAfter speaking with Gascón-- and feeling very inspired by him and by his vision for a more equitable justice system in Los Angeles-- I asked him to introduce himself to DWT readers and Blue America members with the backstory of how he's come to be running for D.A. against Jackie Lacey. Please give it a read and, if you like what you see, consider contributing to his campaign by clicking on the 2020 Bluer California thermometer on the right. And, at least as important, though, tell your friends in Los Angeles County about this race and why it's important-- and who Jackie Lacey and George Gascón are. Identity politics may dictate to many well-meaning people, support for Lacey-- a woman and an African American-- but Dolores Huerta, Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), Jane Fonda and the Black Women's Democratic Club are all working hard to replace her with Gascón. There's a reason.

Reforming America’s Largest Prosecutors Office
-by George Gascón

When I was a 13-year-old boy my family immigrated to L.A. from Cuba. Born to a blue-collar working-class family of political dissidents, I saw first-hand how the abuse of power by authorities can destroy individuals, families and communities. In L.A., I faced many hurdles to assimilate leading to my dropping out of high school. During this period of time in my life, I experienced institutional bias in our public education system and racial discrimination. I will never forget the time I was told by a high school counselor that I was too stupid and not college material, because I was failing several classes. Not once was I asked about my English proficiency, or that perhaps my limited command of the English language could be a contributing factor to my dismal academic performance. These early formative experiences contributed greatly in my personal journey and seared in me a passion for social justice.

Half a century later, I find myself at this historical moment where opportunities for change are real in ways I have never experienced before, full of hope, energized by the possibilities to reimagine our entire criminal justice system and the fear that if we aren’t careful this historical moment will too pass without meaningful change.

I started my 40-year career in law enforcement walking a beat as a young police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, and rose through the ranks to become the Assistant Chief of Police. As Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona I stood up to Joe Arpaio's racist immigration raids, and then served as Chief of Police in San Francisco before then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed me to be District Attorney. In this role I earned a reputation as the Godfather of progressive prosecution, having successfully reduced violent crime to historic lows while reducing incarceration.

I became the first elected prosecutor to call for an end to cash bail and started a national movement when I proactively cleared marijuana convictions that were eligible following legalization. My office pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to hide race information during the charging process to reduce the potential for implicit bias, and we developed successful programs that are being duplicated around the country to divert people from jails and prisons and keep kids out of the criminal justice system. I was also the co-author of Proposition 47, which reduced simple possession of drugs for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor, paving the way for California to reduce its role in a failed drug war-- but there is so much more to do.

My work in San Francisco was just the beginning. It's time to modernize the criminal justice system, and nowhere can we make a bigger impact than here in Los Angeles. Join me, join this movement, and let's create a criminal justice system that we can all be proud of.



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At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every union member wishes that our representation had the power the cops have.

Maybe if WE all carried guns around all the time and had impunity from the consequences for using them as the cops do, we'd have more respect at the bargaining table?


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