By Eric Siddall
Last week, candidate George Gascón told a group of progressive activists that he wanted to eliminate the gang allegation. This is a departure for San Francisco District Attorney Gascón. His office charged the gang allegation. In fact, the newly elected San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin announced that when he takes office, one of his first acts is to eliminate Gascón’s policy, and, in the future, not charge the gang enhancement.
There are two Gascón’s-Candidate Gascón and San Francisco DA Gascón. Candidate Gascón knows his audience. He also knows who votes in the primary. This explains why he speaks passionately about razing the criminal justice system and employs buzzy promises, including eliminating the gang allegation, ending mass incarceration, and promoting restorative justice.
The other Gascón — San Francisco Gascón — has a long record as Chief of Police and District Attorney that would make a progressive cringe. Last week, we wrote about one key aspect of this record: how San Francisco had the highest racial disparity in the state for arrest rates for African-Americans. In response and to spin the story, Candidate Gascón’s team responded that this was “false dribble” and that prosecutors were not responsible for these numbers.
That is a cynical explanation. The District Attorney is the chief law enforcement officer for San Francisco. Even if prosecutors were not responsible for racial disparities in arrests, did Gascón forget he was once the San Francisco Chief of Police? If anything is “dribble,” it is the amnesia Candidate Gascón has about his time in San Francisco.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.