The petition to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon spread quickly through Los Angeles County over the weekend following approval for signature gathering last Thursday.
In 2020, Gascon, who served as the LAPD Assistant Chief of Police from 2003-2006, Chief of Police for Mesa, Arizona from 2006-2009, San Francisco Chief of Police from 2010-2011, and District Attorney of San Francisco from 2011-2019, was elected in as LA County’s newest DA in 2020.
Gascon quickly instituted several “reforms,” including ending policies that had juveniles being tried as adults, many crimes being reduced to misdemeanors or having jail time reduced, and the removal of cash bail for most crimes despite California voters voting to keep it in 2020 in Prop 25. However, these policies led to criminals being emboldened and rising crime in the County, despite the COVID pandemic. Crime rates went up in everything from homicides to robberies.
Those policies and negative results led to a major recall effort against Gascon in early 2021. However, the petition failed to get enough signatures and fizzled out by October. Supporters vowed to get another petition in place, and were emboldened by the smash and grab crime spree in LA and San Francisco in late 2021. With the public more aware of how Gascon’s policies were affecting the situation, more and more people began voicing opposition against Gascon. Entire City Councils, including the Beverly Hills City Council, voted outright in favor of his recall, and more than 30 cities in the County voted no confidence in him.
Gascon defended his record and policies, which he says refocuses more jailings with rehabilitation and defended those who were jailed unjustly in the past. Proponents of Gascon, who have said that favoring community projects and reinvesting money into rehabilitation programs over more policing and jailings are a better way at crime reduction, pointed to the first petition failing last year as proof that most LA County residents support Gascon and his policies.
Despite that, Gascon’s support dwindled throughout late 2021, spurring recall supporters, led by Tania Owen, who lost her police officer husband on the job due to violent criminals, and Desiree Andrade, whose son was brutally murdered, to institute another petition this year. Last Thursday, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder approved the new petition. Organizers now have until July 6th to gather 566,857 signatures, 10% of all current registered voters.
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“We are sick and tired of living in the pro-criminal paradise Gascon has created,” Recall DA George Gascon co-chairs Andrade and Owen said Friday. “Gascon turned his back on us, and now his policies are destroying Los Angeles County right before our eyes and needlessly creating more innocent victims.”
“This is our chance to put an end to all of it, but it is massive undertaking that will require an all-in approach from the entire community. We need all Angelenos to join us in this effort to restore public safety and end the chaos in our streets. We all deserve to live without fear of criminals running amok, and to have a District Attorney who actually does his job.”
In another statement, Andrade added, “This is not about politics for me. I am a registered Democrat. This is about the killers who brutally murdered Julian in cold blood and now have a chance to one day receive parole due to Gascon’s pro-criminal agenda that puts victims last. So, when you hear Gascon try to paint what he is doing as ‘reform,’ understand what he actually means is reducing sentences for murderers and violent criminals, or not prosecuting violent crime altogether. And when Gascon insults crime victims and tries to brush the recall off as a politically motivated effort, know that he is talking about people like me and many others who are simply devastated by the thought of our loved one’s killers being back on the streets.”
During the weekend, many petition drives were organized by groups throughout LA County. Many noted a different feeling this time around.
“Last year it was a lot more difficult to find help or even getting a page worth of signatures,” said James Springer, a retired Glendale resident who had previously helped gather signatures last year, to the Globe on Monday. “This year is different. People remember all those robberies last year, they see crime spiking, they see murders and high crime happening in places it never really happened before, like Jackie Avant.”
“And it’s all easy to see where the jumps came up from, and that was Gascon being elected. Now, those same neighbors who said they wouldn’t sign last year are signing now. Some of them even voted for Gascon over Lacey in 2020. I did a basic walk around on Sunday, and many people voted Gascon in because of the George Floyd protests in 2020 and really wanting reform against more incidents like that happening. But, instead, crime has exploded as a result and they’re all second-guessing that decision now.”
“The first weekend in and it’s night and day compared to the 2021 petition drive. People walking away scoffing and door closings are now people wanting to talk about crime and Gascon, especially among younger voters where I live.”
If successful in getting enough signatures, Gascon would be the second California DA to face a recall vote this year following San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, whose recall election is currently scheduled for June. Gascon recall supporters hope to get around 800,000 signatures by the deadline to ensure a recall election around the time of the November 2022 general election. The recall petition can be found here.
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