Gascón Launches 1st Interfaith Advisory Board in LA County District Attorney History

By Cindy Chen  

LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has made history by inaugurating the office’s first-ever Interfaith Advisory Board, the sixth advisory board formed by Gascón since he assumed office in December 2020.

The establishment of these advisory boards is a commitment, said the DA, to fostering inclusive, safer, and more trusting relationships with communities across the county.

Gascón emphasized the pivotal role of faith-based organizations in advocating for marginalized and underserved populations within social justice movements, stating: “Faith-based organizations have long been at the forefront of social justice movements, advocating for the rights of marginalized and underserved populations. Our County is a rich tapestry of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds, and it’s imperative that our criminal justice system reflects and respects this diversity.”

Gascón continued, “Our first-ever Interfaith Advisory Board comes at a time when religious racism, discrimination, and hate crimes are still prevalent throughout our communities and the nation. Our new board will advise my office on policies and practices that promote fairness, inclusivity, and cultural competency.”

The Interfaith Advisory Board, he said, will convene regularly to provide insights on addressing faith-based hate crimes, engaging with diverse spiritual communities, and advising on matters related to interfaith perspectives in the pursuit of equitable justice, and aims to enhance diversity and inclusivity within the District Attorney’s office.

Comprising esteemed individuals from various faith backgrounds, the founding members of the Interfaith Advisory Board include, among others, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Senior Rabbi at IKAR in Mid-Wilshire Tahil Sharma; Interfaith activist and regional coordinator for North America at the United Religions Initiative Mary Stancavage; Dharma teacher and co-chair of the board of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) Elder Joe Paul.

One of five rabbis on the board, Aryeh Cohen, professor of rabbinic literature at American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, said to JNS, or Jewish News Syndicate, “I strongly believe that the voice of the faith community is essential when discussing issues of justice,” noting he regards hate crimes as “one of the areas in which restorative justice can work best.”

The professor stated, “there are tons of statistics and studies that show that imprisonment is not a deterrence in general, so why would we think that it would be in the case of hate crimes? The process of restorative justice centers the harm to the victim, and it is a process in which the victim articulates what is needed to make them whole again—or as whole as possible. This is what is especially necessary in the case of hate crimes.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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