Los Angeles County’s new top prosecutor has made another controversial move that has angered local law enforcement unions.
According to FOX 11, “Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is under scrutiny after he hired a public defender who helped with his campaign to a high-ranking prosecutor position in his administration.” The outlet reports that Tiffany Blacknell “has in the past posted anti-police comments on social media,” which first surfaced last year.
THREAD: I've confirmed D.A. George Gascon has hired public defender Tiffiny Blacknell to his administration as a Grade 4 prosecutor. Blacknell served on Gascon’s policy committee during his campaign. She has called LAPD "barbarians" and says prisons should be abolished. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/lJG20sLIvX
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) February 25, 2021
Investigative reporter Bill Melugin posted screenshots of Ms. Blacknell’s previous comments disparaging law enforcement to Twitter earlier this week. Blacknell has referred to LAPD officers as “barbarians” and called for the abolition of prisons. Melugin also shared a photograph of Blacknell posing with D.A. Gascón and another showing Blacknell donning a t-shirt that read, “The Police Are Trained To Kill Us.”
According to Melugin, “the former public defender posted on Facebook during the series of looting[s] that took place in May 2020 that she herself was a looter during the 1992 Rodney King riots.”
“I was 15,” Blacknell reportedly wrote. “I was furious, sad and scared. I had no way to process my emotions about the murder of Latasha Harlins or the beating of Rodney King. So we went out and watched our city burn. And when the opportunity arose, we took some sh-. It was one of the most formative moments of my life.”
FOX 11 confirmed that Gascón hired Blacknell as a Grade 4 Deputy District Attorney, which can pay up to $15,000 a month.
Melugin spoke to Eric Siddall, the vice president of a prosecutors union called the Association of Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles (ADDA). He told Melugin that Blacknell does not meet the qualifications for her new position, which Siddall says requires at least two years of experience working as a Grade 3 deputy DA.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to all of our members who are patiently waiting for a promotion,” Siddall told FOX 11.
“What’s curious is that a Grade 4 position requires prosecutorial experience. I don’t believe she has any,” Siddall continued. “I think what’s really at issue is Mr. Gascón just doesn’t seem to follow the rules…this is really about political cronyism rather than someone who actually meets the qualification standards of a Grade 4 position.”
Alex Bastian, a special adviser to Gascón, told The Orange County Register that Blacknell would serve on the D.A.’s executive staff, but did not provide details about her new role.
“D.A. Gascón has the utmost confidence in his Executive Team and is looking forward to having Tiffany Blacknell join the office,” Bastian told The Register in an email.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union representing rank-and-file LAPD officers, joined ADDA in criticizing the move, calling it “unconscionable, but not surprising.”
“Once again, Gascón is thumbing his nose at crime victims by hiring someone who wants to abolish prisons, defund public safety, and who has expressed outright hatred toward police officers,” the union said in a statement. “With murders and shootings at a 10-year high, do we really need criminal defense attorneys on both sides of the aisle?”
Blacknell is one of several criminal justice reform advocates mentored by USC law professor Jody D. Armour, who is also a Soros Justice Senior Fellow of The Open Society Institute’s Center on Crime, Communities and Culture.
It was great talking racial and social justice with Public Defender Tiffany Blacknell (@lwyrchc) on Constitution Day for the American Constitution Society (ACS). What gives my job meaning is seeing my terrific former students like Attorney Blacknell out here changing the world! pic.twitter.com/eQACevalwc
— Jody David Armour (@NiggaTheory) September 18, 2020
The Orange County Register reported:
Blacknell also is well-known for her civic engagement within Los Angeles County’s Black community. In 2019, she was the keynote speaker at the “I Matter” girls empowerment conference at East Los Angeles College. The conference provides girls and young women ages 11-18 an opportunity to build confidence, further their education and live fulfilling lives. …
Aside from social media posts, Blacknell also has been involved in controversy in the courtroom. In 2020, she made headlines after it was revealed that, without notifying the prosecutor in the case or the victim’s family, she helped negotiate a “sweetheart deal” with a suspect in a gang murder. The deal ultimately was withdrawn.
After Gascón took the oath of office in December, he issued a set of special directives that were met with immediate resistance, sparking a revolt from local law enforcement groups and several deputy district attorneys within his office. Victims’ families and prosecutors connected with media outlets, and their stories helped create several new Gascón critics who did not voice similar concerns about his progressive proposals during the contentious campaign.
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