By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – Don’t call it a massacre, call it a reform prosecution genocide. A week after being appointed and pledging to not fire employees until she met with them and discussed their roles, newly-appointed DA Brooke Jenkins scheduled 15-minute phone meetings with 16 Boudin hires and, one by one, fired them all.
Lest there be any question about the direction of the new DA—the 16 were all hires of Boudin. The Boudin 16 as they are calling themselves were then replaced by some of the more draconian hires—Ana Gonzalez who previously headed the gang prosecution unit, Nancy Tung the reformer DA Candidate who finished third in 2019, Roni Singh who ran for judge in 2020 and is a former prosecutor, and Tiffany Sutton, who previously spent 12 years at the SF DA’s office hired by Kamala Harris.
According to the release from the DA’s office, Gonzalez will be chief assistant and the lead managing attorney in the office. Tung “will lead and oversee special prosecutions and community partnerships.” Sutton will “will lead and oversee alternative programs and initiatives and the juvenile division.” And Singh will “lead and assist with the transition for District Attorney Jenkins.”
At the police department, Sutton oversees the “leadership and management of the crime analytics team and analyzing SFPD’s crime and community strategies.”
Among those fired, Rachel Marshall, who headed up the strategic communications for Boudin’s office, told the Vanguard the office “went from one of the most reform minded, progressive offices in the country too, in one day, dismantling many of those reforms and undoing a lot of the progress that has been made.”
Supervisor Dean Preston told the Vanguard, “Obviously I was not a fan of the recall and was disappointed with those results, but still had hoped that the mayor would appoint someone who was not going to disrupt some of the progress that has been made around reform and certainly one of the most important areas of that is the Innocence Commission.”
A day after she told the Chronicle she was inclined to keep that commission that looks into Wrongful Convictions, Jenkins reversed course, disbanding it and firing the attorney who was the liaison to it.
“It really is a devasting blow to have the sole liaison from the DA’s office get fired,” Preston said. “It’s just, I think, the wrong message entirely about… it should be an independent commission here that we’re preserving no matter who’s in office.”
Preston said he had not had a conversation with the newly-appointed DA, which he said was “highly unusual that she did a PR tour of my district, the Tenderloin earlier this week and would not have reached out to either invite our office to participate or at least let us know what was happening.”
One of her main focuses has been doubling down on the “war on drugs rhetoric.”
Preston said he had the “same reaction when the mayor made her announcements in December, threatening to arrest drug users and addicts.” He said, “It is not only harmful, but it doesn’t solve the issues that they claim they want to solve.”
He added, “We have had decades of this kind of tough talk. It sometimes helps folks win elections. It never really helps resolve underlying issues or alleviate the suffering that people are experiencing, particularly people who are addicted to drugs.”
Staffers described the process by which the DA one by one scheduled 16 of them into 15-minute blocks—over the phone.
Jenkins read off a script, giving an admonishment that she was not consenting to any sort of recording, thanked them for their service and said that their services were no longer needed.
“It was incredibly icy, incredibly impersonal,” one staffer explained.
No reason was provided and, when some asked, they were not providedone.
What the Vanguard has been told is that it is very clear that the mayor’s office is controlling everything—everything from communications to the campaign appearances. The office made no attempt to communicate with senior staffers.
Last week, Jenkins at her first meeting captured in media accounts, suggested the process would be more humane, suggesting there would be discussions before people were fired—and then nothing.
In a statement on Twitter, Marshall said, “I joined @chesaboudin‘s leadership team to fight for criminal justice reform; that battle has never been more urgent. My passion for the mission to reform our legal system is stronger than ever. Our work continues and the fight goes on.”
Among those fired was Mikaela Rabinowitz, who led the transparency and accountability team.
“I am proud to have served the City of San Francisco and the @SFDAOffice. I worked extremely hard to improve the quality and availability of data in order to provide actionable information to the office and the public,” Rabinowitz tweeted. “Under @chesaboudin, @SFDAOffice was committed to building upon @GeorgeGascon’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”
Arcelia Hurtado tweeted, “After over 2 years of tireless and devoted service to the City and City of SF, I was unceremoniously fired without cause via phone by the Mayor’s appointed DA. I am the highest ranking Latina/LGBTQ member of the management team at that office. I will continue the fight 4justice.”
Tal Klement tweeted, “I was just told on the telephone by interim DA Brooke Jenkins that I have been fired. I am one of many in the office let go who have dedicated their careers to doing justice. I am proud of all that I accomplished and vow to never stop fighting for real criminal justice reform.”
Kate Chatfield, chief of staff after David Campos ran for Supervisor, tweeted, “The resentencing/innocence commission unit: gone. Police accountability: gone. Data and transparency: gone. Political corruption investigation: gone. Champion for victims and children: demoted.”
She also noted, “Lateef Grey and Rebecca Young from our Independent Investigations Bureau have been fired.”
She added, “Champion for humane, hugely-popular and successful treatment programs: gone. Latino/a outreach: gone. Support for trafficked children: gone.”
Rachel Marshall summed it up in a phone conversation with the Vanguard: “Under DA Boudin’s leadership, criminal justice reform including some of the boldest policies in the nation, including eliminating bail, refusing to charge kids as adults and holding police accountable.”
She said, “It is disappointing that within one day, much of the work that so many of us have spent years building and implementing has been undone, but we all remain as committed as ever to criminal justice reform and to continuing to advance justice.”