Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), who served as co-chair for Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s vice presidential search committee, has withdrawn his endorsement of District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a frequent target of local Black Lives Matter activists.
In a statement published Sunday, Garcetti shifted his endorsement toward George Gascon, a former assistant police chief for Los Angeles who counts among his high-profile endorsers: Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Governor Gavin Newsom (D) and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
“George Gascon will help our country shift the burden from the criminal justice system and jails toward diversion, intervention and re-entry programs that save money and save lives,” said Garcetti in a statement posted by Gascon’s campaign. “He is a leader who I have known and trusted for nearly twenty years who can meet this moment.”
Lacey, the city’s first African American woman to serve as district attorney, has been criticized by left-wing activists for not prosecuting enough police officers and also not advocating sufficiently for policies and change on behalf of black people.
“We wanted to be open to thinking about how can we allow her to be a more progressive district attorney and act in the interests of Black people as a whole,” Melina Abdullah, a professor and local Black Lives Matter leader, told CNN of the organization’s approach to the district attorney. “When you have somebody who is Black, it doesn’t always mean they carry the interests of all Black people.”
Back in early March, Abdullah and a group of Black Lives Matter activists showed up to Lacey’s house, the morning before her primary election, and held a protest. When Abdullah stepped onto their front porch, allegedly to speak with the district attorney, Lacey’s husband pulled a gun and demanded she leave.
I’m front of DA Jackie Lacey’s house for that community meeting she promised with the @BLMLA crew. Rang her bell to invite her.
Her husband pulled a gun, cocked it, pointed it at my chest and said “I’ll shoot you. I don’t care who you are.” @WP4BL @RealJusticePAC @shaunking pic.twitter.com/WtazUWSJIC
— Melina Abdullah (@DocMellyMel) March 2, 2020
He has since been charged for the incident.
Despite the new endorsement, Garcetti hinted that he was having second thoughts about his endorsement of Lacey earlier this year, telling The Appeal in an interview in June that it “may be” time for change at the district attorney’s office.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for George Gascon too. I’ve served alongside him, it was before he entered the race – my endorsement was with Ms. Lacey. But I want to continue that she does the job she should be doing, and I want to make sure that that office, no matter who’s in it, is going after folks who commit crimes,” said Garcetti.
Later that month, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) dropped his endorsement of Lacey in a tweet in which he called for “an end to systemic racism” and criminal justice reform. In the tweet, he said his previous endorsement of Lacey no longer carried “the same meaning” as when he made it.
Gascon, who described himself as a “leader of the criminal justice reform movement” on his campaign website, was more recently the District Attorney for San Francisco, where, prior to the pandemic, some blame him for the deterioration of the progressive haven.
“I think his policy failures and his failing to prosecute crimes is what’s largely responsible for what the streets of San Francisco look like today,” Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, told The Chronicle last year.