By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – This week it appears that supporters of a recall effort have moved closer to qualifying the recall against District Attorney Chesa Boudin, but if there is to be a fight, the DA and his backers—some 200 strong at the hastily improvised SEIU (Service Employees International Union) location—sent the signal that this would indeed be a fight.
They launched into an attack on the big money backers of the recall and a defense of the need for criminal justice reform and the DA’s role in it.
“I got to say, this feels a little bit like deja vu,” Boudin said. “It was just a month ago that we were all celebrating the defeat of the Republican recall against Gavin Newsom.”
He said that the voters of San Francisco sent “a loud and clear message: we reject the recall of our governor.
“Apparently here in San Francisco, the 85 percent of us that rejected the recall against the governor, didn’t send a loud and clear message. They’re back for more.”
“So let’s be clear about who is behind this recall—dark money. We’ve heard about that. Republicans—we’ve heard about that. There is no confusion, this issue. The San Francisco Republican party that is hosting a fundraiser with the governor of Florida with Marjorie green from Georgia. This week. This week.”
He added, ”That San Francisco Republican Party has endorsed the recall.” He added: “You know who’s opposed to it: the San Francisco Democratic Party, the ACLU of Northern California.” He said, “There is no mistake in what this about.”
Bevan Dufty on the BART board noted that he has supported Suzy Loftus, whom he had known for more than 20 years, “But as I listened to Chesa at many different events, I realized that his values and his priorities lined up where mine are.
“I am tremendously proud of the work he is doing,” he said. “More importantly, we know that this work is so fundamental not just to San Francisco, but to our nation.”
Latifa Simon, also on the Bart Board, has worked in the DA’s office under now Vice President Kamala Harris.
“For five years was able to run a program that was very clear, it challenged the war on drugs,” she said. “It ensured that the DA’s office could actually begin to turn a new leaf on the 170-year-old racist lineage of this city’s District Attorney’s office.”
Like Bevan, “I endorsed Suzy. I love Suzy.”
But she said, “But when Chesa was elected, we made as a progressive community, a promise to ensure that the radical vision of a new criminal justice system that prevents crime and hold each other accountable and make sure that we together can create a beloved community.”
She said, “That vision we are all committed to ensuring happens under this DA.”
Jim Araby from UFCW 5 noted that, for many people he represents, “It’s those people that are the ones that the criminal justice system doesn’t serve.”
He said, “We understand that so much of this is about actually dedicating resources to go after employers who break the law, the ones that should be put in prison, not the single people that commit very small crimes, but the people that commit crimes that destroy people’s lives.”
“Chesa as a DA understands that organized retail theft is a tremendous problem in this city. It’s not about the individuals that take, you know, diapers. One thing that diapers are, a steal thing of candy, or trying to feed themselves.”
He said, “It’s about organized crime that is going on, profiting off the backs of our members in those stores and putting our members into harm’s way.”
Joseph Bryant, president of SEIU 1021, pointed out, “We are the most criminalized country in the entire world. There are over 2 million us citizens in jails, which is by far the most of any country in the world.” He said, “There’s an addiction to criminalization. And that’s what Chesa is about, is about changing the system. And some folks don’t want the system to change, some folks profit off the system.”
A retired commander from SFPD noted that this was his first rally that he has ever spoken at.
“We don’t agree on every issue,” he said of Chesa Boudin, but he said, “I understand the root causes of crime. I think being safe is a right, that’s why I support him.”
He added, “I can tell you that this recall, from everything I’ve read and I studied closely is based on false narratives that exploit the fact that the criminal justice system is confusing. It’s opaque, it’s complicated. And they twist normal processes that have been around since I walked a beat and before into somehow failings in the system when they’re not.”
Former Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer said that she respects Chesa Boudin “because he has followed through on his promises and I know as an elected official, that is very rare.
“As a 64-year-old Chinese woman, I want to say, I want to be safe too. This is why I’m putting my faith in someone who is actually doing what he promised to.”
She added, “All these people are saying, crime’s out of control. They’re blaming him for graffiti. They’re blaming him for their lunches being stolen. Blaming him for littering.
“He is prosecuting on a level that we have not seen from a former prosecutor in our city. He is actually prosecuting violent crimes. I want to be safe too. I know we all want to be safe too. But quite frankly, I don’t want my funds to, and these precious city funds, to be used on these petty, petty prosecutions.”
Former Senator Mark Leno said, “These pro-recall folks are going to brag about how many signatures they got to qualify this for the ballot.” But he pointed out, “They paid for it with over a million dollars of Republican money.”
He cited the group called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, which he said was a state registered, not local, supposedly neighborhood PAC, “because then they don’t have to report their donors until 2020. Eighty percent of all the money collected for the recall effort to date came from this PAC.”
“If they want to disprove what I’ve just said, just tell us who your donors are,” he said.
Leno added, “These Republican recall fanatics do not even suggest that Chesa Boudin has committed any crimes or is guilty of any corruption, corruption that is running remnant and unbridled at the highest roles on San Francisco leadership today with a new headline dropping every week, just ask the FBI.”
Chesa Boudin said he knew this was coming.
“We knew that we were going to face challenges,” he said. “The recall website domain was registered the week I was sworn into office.”
He said, “This has nothing to do with the facts or the real challenges our communities are facing. This has everything to do with disrespecting the will of the people—but your vote matters.
“Is it any surprise in light of those promises made and those promises kept that we are seeing a historic situation. We are seeing more money spent by these dark money groups to oust a sitting district attorney than has ever been seen anywhere in this country,” he said.
“They have spent more than $1.4 million, just gathering signatures. Flying poor working people from around this country to San Francisco, because they don’t have the volunteers, that’s for sure, they are paying them, their airfare, their hotel, and then a per signature.”
He added, “They have used every dirty trick in the book. They’re promising that before they’re done, they’re going to spend $5 million.”
He ended with a simple message: “We see you. We see you. You do not represent us. You do not represent San Francisco values. We will not be defeated.”