Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022

A Cautionary Tale In Liberal San Francisco

 

Ousting of DA Sends Sharp Warning To Nation’s Progressive Prosecutors  

A landslide recall election in San Francisco last week saw the city’s left-wing District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, booted from office by a public outraged at the breakdown of law and order in the city.

Boudin’s ousting by a solid 60 per cent majority is viewed as part of a growing national backlash against soft-on-crime prosecutors, who have diminished the power of law enforcement in many of the nation’s biggest cities.

Even ultra-liberal San Francisco, a city regarded as a bastion of progressiveness, could no longer stomach “woke” policies widely blamed for the surges in shoplifting, carjacking, muggings, property crimes, open-air drug dealing and obscene acts performed in public.

Boudin’s sweeping loss “should send a clear message across the nation that serving as District Attorney yet not holding criminals accountable is a dereliction of duty,” asserted a spokesperson for the recall effort, Richie Greenberg, according to a Newsweek op-ed.

Boudin’s parents were Weather Underground domestic terrorists who were convicted for murdering police officers. The young boy grew up under the tutelage of socialist “revolutionaries,” the article said, which heavily shaped his mental world.

He was narrowly elected DA of San Francisco in November 2019 but was ejected from office just a little more than halfway through his first term. San Francisco’s Mayor Breed will appoint a new district attorney to replace Boudin until the next general election in 2023.

The Democratic mayor actually foreshadowed Boudin’s recall when she announced some months ago, “The reign of criminals who are destroying our city—it is time for it to come to an end! And it comes to an end when we are more aggressive with law enforcement, and less tolerant of all the garbage that has destroyed our city.”

 

Emboldening Criminals

Boudin drew fire for being soft on crime immediately after taking office, by withdrawing charges against a man who was shot by officers after trying to attack them with a bottle, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

He faced withering criticism a couple of months later, after dropping charges against a man involved in an attack on an elderly individual that went viral on social media. The outrage was compounded when it emerged that the accused was already on probation for assault and battery at the time of the attack.

Critics say Boudin’s policies have emboldened criminals, making them confident they would suffer no consequences for their crimes even if caught. Just a few years ago, such policies would have spelled immediate doom for a prosecutor’s career. A DA’s competence was measured by his success in being tough on crime and winning convictions at all costs.

The notion that clamping down on crime could actually hurt a candidate’s chances of re-election was once unthinkable for Democrats. But in a stunning shift, the pendulum, in just a few years, began swinging in that direction.

This has been largely due to the proliferation of a George Soros-backed national movement celebrating the “progressive prosecutor”—radical reformers who have reinvented the role of the modern district attorney to be supportive of criminals and to view them as victims.

Boudin was among a wave of progressive district attorneys elected in recent years, “many with the help of at least $40 million in spending by billionaire left-wing financier George Soros,” according to the nonprofit Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, cited by the NY Post.

In New York City, Soros donated $1 million to embattled Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s campaign, the Post reported last year, citing public records.

Other beneficiaries of Soros’ largesse include Chicago DA Kimberly Foxx and Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, both Democrats who—like Bragg—are among the prosecutors most likely to face the voters’ wrath if San Francisco’s booting of Boudin sparks a trend, as many expect.

 

Wreaking Havoc in Chicago and Philadelphia

DA Foxx announced in December 2016, shortly before taking office, that her office wouldn’t charge shoplifters with felonies unless they either had more than 10 previous felony convictions or if they stole more than $1,000 worth of goods (more than triple the previous felony threshold of $300.)
Storeowners blamed Foxx’s policy in December 2019 for what they said was a string of brazen thefts targeting their businesses. Undeterred, Foxx announced in June amidst the riots following the death of George Floyd, that she wouldn’t prosecute protesters charged with minor crimes, such as curfew violations, disorderly conduct, “minor” shoplifting and taunting police.

St. Louis, Missouri, far outdid Chicago in progressive justice amid the George Floyd protests. Police had arrested 36 people on charges of burglary, property damage, assault, and unlawful use of a weapon, among others felonies. 25 of them were arrested in incidents that led to four officers being shot.

A few days later, all those arrested were released and charges dropped. Some prosecutors were outraged. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted, “In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters [that were] arrested were released back onto the streets by prosecutor Kim Gardner.”

The “Compassionate” Prosecutor

Larry Krasner of Philadelphia has established himself as one of the most liberal DAs in the nation. A former civil-rights lawyer who made his name suing the government on behalf of activists and protesters, Krasner became the country’s most prominent progressive prosecutor.

Krasner is proud of his belief in a soft-on-crime approach, calling it “compassionate” as opposed to “punitive.” The “compassionate” Krasner took office vowing to eliminate cash bail, and to begin “trading jails and death row for schools and education.”

He diverted a significant number of gun-related offenses away from prosecution and into rehabilitative programs in his first year in office, a local Philadelphia paper, The Trace, reported.

That first term was also marked by the firing or resignation of 261 prosecutors — including 70 newly hired for their progressive credentials — and a record 562 homicides in Philadelphia.

Amid the spike in violent crime, the city’s mayor and police commissioner called on Krasner to be more aggressive in prosecuting gun crimes. When pressed on the high rates of gun violence, Krasner’s public remarks advertised his own cluelessness and indifference.

“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” he said.

He made this callous assertion at a time when murder, aggravated assault, shootings and burglary were all considerably higher under his administration, enraging listeners. Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter slammed the DA in the Inquirer:

“I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney,” Nutter fumed in his op-ed. “I’d like to ask Krasner: How many more people would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a ‘crisis’?”

After heated backlash, Krasner tried to clumsily walk his comments back, belatedly choking up over the pain of families grieving over their murdered loved ones.

 

Radical Reforms Jack Up Crime Rates

Most thinking people agree on the need for reform in the American criminal justice system. The decades-long trend toward over-criminalization, compounded by unjust sentencing guidelines and overzealous prosecutors, have made the United States the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world.

No one denies the system is in need of repair. But progressive prosecutors have instituted radical reforms that, far from restoring justice, have jacked up crime rates in many cities.

These law enforcement officials refuse to prosecute shoplifters, as well as people who destroy or deface public property, commit petty crimes disorderly acts in public, and resist police.

“Woke” prosecutors [who view all criminal behavior by minorities within the prism of “racism”] cast the lawbreakers as “victims” of poverty and circumstances outside their control.

In place of incarcerating offenders, including violent ones, these progressives advocate “redemption” and “reconciliation” of even hard-core criminals, which critics say has caused crime rates to spiral.

 

New Name for Ancient Myth

“Restorative justice” is the new term progressives have coined for a very old myth—that human beings are innately noble and humane. They resort to crime only because of poverty and ignorance, the thinking goes.

In this romanticized and deceptive view of humanity, the sharp distinctions between victim and perpetrator are blurred because the perpetrator, too, is considered a victim deserving of pity.

Instead of meting out punishment to the offender, advocates say, the system should arrange for him to meet with the victim, along with experts who guide the encounter to a “reconciliation” between the two parties.

With the benefit of education, the perpetrator will be persuaded to view the victim as a human being and regret harming him/her. The latter, in turn, might be persuaded to regard the attacker as a victim in his own right, and compassionately choose not to press charges.

To get a sense of how ‘restorative justice’ has fared in the real world since Boudin took office, a glance at the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) crime data tells the story. According to a Minnesota Sun article citing the Department’s records for 2020, the homicide rate shot up alarmingly.

“Compared to the same time period last year [before Boudin took office], homicides in the city are up 25%; burglary is up 42%; motor vehicle theft is up 31% and arson is up 45%, according to SFPD data,” stated the Minnesota Sun.

One would hope that a reality check this devastating would shatter left-wing delusions and deceptions fueling “restorative justice” in this city of nearly a million people.

 

Blaming The Police

Boudin supporters have consistently shrugged off responsibility for the mayhem in San Francisco, shifting the blame to the city’s Police Department (SFPD) for failing to make arrests.

“The police are so incompetent.  If you commit a crime in the city, you have a 91 percent chance of just walking away,” Lara Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and a Boudin supporter, was quoted as saying.

Critics respond that the DA’s refusal to prosecute individuals who resist arrest, and the revolving door justice that allows violent criminals back on the street while awaiting trial, have demoralized the police force. These policies have also made arrests more dangerous for law enforcement.

“As soon as Boudin took office in 2019, he focused on eliminating cash bail, actively thwarting federal immigration enforcement and blocking prosecution for various drug- and gun-related offenses during traffic stops,” former San Francisco assistant DA Thomas Ostly told the NY Times.

Under his watch, “San Francisco further descended into the lawless hellhole for which it has become known,” Newsweek wrote.

“It’s been a disastrous two years,” affirmed the California Globe. “Boudin has failed. There is zero indication of the sort of humility or reconsideration of mistakes that would give even stalwart fans any rational basis for hope.

“The crisis deepens every day,” the Globe article said. “The city has become a national laughingstock, its videos of lawlessness and shoplifting serve as worldwide examples of how not to run a city. Its police are demoralized to the point of duty dereliction, and no one who has seen the way the DA supports criminals could reasonably blame them.”

 

Democratic Party Members Break Ranks

The move to recall Boudin sparked intense fighting within Democratic ranks, with several prominent party members joining the recall forces.

The NYT quoted one of these individuals, former chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party Mary Jung, recalling the pivotal moments that drove her to advocate for Boudin’s recall. Her office was broken into four times during the pandemic, she noted, and she couldn’t escape “the sight of the rising squalor and lawlessness taking over some city streets.”

The reality of surging crime severely tested her liberal outlook, Jung admitted, especially after the birth of her granddaughter. “How could I risk taking her out in the stroller?” she asked.

Explaining its reasoning for supporting Boudin’s recall, the traditionally neutral California Globe wrote: “Chesa Boudin must go. He is a menace, a failure, and he has played the single largest role of any individual in ruining a great city.”

“Boudin took office in January 2020,” the article noted. “Today, burglaries are 40% higher than they were in 2019. Homicide is 20% higher. Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders soared from 9 to 60. But for us, it was a single startling fact that forced the Globe off the sidelines:

“There were nearly 500 fentanyl (drug) deaths in San Francisco last year. Try to guess the number of successful prosecutions for dealing fentanyl in San Francisco in 2021. The number is zero. Chesa Boudin prosecuted zero fentanyl dealers last year.

“That fact created a moral imperative to stand against the unraveling of what was once the most beautiful city in America,” the op-ed continued. “He must go. Save this city.  On June 7, vote to recall Chesa Boudin.”

 

Pushing Back Against ‘Progressive’ Left-Wing Culture

Boudin’s ouster is seen by some as emblematic of a wider pushback against the liberal Left’s cultural and political overreach throughout the United States.

Last November, one year after Joe Biden won Virginia in the presidential election, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governorship in that state by running on a platform that promised to purge left-wing “critical race theory” from the schools’ curriculum.

During the same time period, the “blue” states of Minneapolis and Seattle defeated a “defund the police” ballot initiative, and elected a pro-law-and-order Republican as district attorney, respectively.

Even more recently, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stripped the Walt Disney Company of its lucrative ownership of thousands of acres after Disney fought the parental rights bill, public opinion was on DeSantis’ side by a significant double-digit margin, wrote Newsweek.

People want to live with the basic expectation that their streets are secure, their children are protected and if they are robbed or assaulted, competent authorities will make an effort to bring the criminal to justice.

Whether it is law and order in the streets or common sense morality in the classroom, “the pendulum appears to swinging back toward the side of civilizational sanity,” the Newsweek op-ed said.

*****

Soros Connection

Political analysts have pointed to the immense influence wielded by left-wing billionaire George Soros in placing soft-on-crime candidates in office.

Soros created local, independent political action committees (PACS) which allowed him to bypass the contribution limits on giving to a candidate’s own committee. He was then able to spend unlimited amounts on mailings and television ads on behalf of the candidate of his choice.

Soros’s plan to elect progressive prosecutors has been well documented. The New York Times lauded him for pioneering the “push to overhaul prosecutors’ offices” across the country, and leading media outlets have reported on different angles of his campaign.

“Here’s why George Soros is spending big to help decide who’ll be your next DA,” the Los Angeles Times informed readers.

“George Soros’ Quiet Overhaul of the U.S. Justice System” was the title of a Politico article about criminal justice reform and how “the billionaire financier is providing the cash to make it happen.”

Billionaire Soros Funds Local Prosecutor Races,” reads the headline in a Wall Street Journal article. “Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has plunked $1.5 million into several California district attorney campaigns, the latest in millions of dollars the international financier has spent to influence the nation’s criminal justice system,” the article attests.

Soros’s plan seems to rest on the belief that all politics begin on the local level. It exploits local DA races to remake the American justice system from the bottom up.

The leap from remaking the nation’s justice system, based on law and order, to remaking all of America into the far-left world of Soros’s vision, may seem like an unrealistic stretch to some.

But law and order are undeniably the core of this country’s existence. If that foundation is uprooted, as many progressive prosecutors appear to be aiming for, how long can society endure?

*****

NY GOP Leaders Introduce Amendment Granting Voters “Recall” Powers Over Prosecutors

GOP leaders in the Senate and Assembly introduced a constitutional amendment last week that would make district attorneys subject to recall campaigns, the New York Post reported. The proposal comes days after San Francisco voters backed the removal of Chesa Boudin, the California city’s progressive district attorney.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, Assembly Rep. Leader Will Barclay, and Senate Rep. Leader Andrew Lanza  said the amendment would “establish recall elections for district attorneys who refuse to enforce the law and instead champion soft-on-crime policies that are exacerbating a rise in violent crime throughout New York State.”

“District attorneys have a duty to uphold the law and protect the community, two very basic responsibilities that are unfortunately being ignored with greater frequency,” the GOP leaders said. “DAs who choose to act as political activists once they take office need to be held accountable.”

“San Francisco was able to remove an official who put his own woke agenda ahead of the public’s best interest. We need to apply the same standard and have the same option here in New York,” said Will Barclay.

The legislators made clear the measure is directed at DA Alvin Bragg, who, just days after taking office, has come under fire for instructing prosecutors not to charge certain crimes at all and to downgrade others to misdemeanors.

“This disturbing trend of progressive, soft-on-crime district attorneys – including Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg here in New York who refuses to prosecute crime—has got to stop,” Ortt said in a statement. “If Gov. Hochul won’t do the right thing and remove him from office, New Yorkers should have the power to do so on their own.”

19 states have recall mechanisms allowing voters to remove such officials from elected office. In NY, however, only the governor has the power to remove a local prosecutor.

All four top GOP gubernatorial candidates in New York, including Rob Astorino, Harry Wilson, Andrew Giuliani and Lee Zeldin have said they would boot Bragg from office if elected, the Post article reported.

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