Following up with a promise he made on the campaign trail, incoming Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Monday night met with Black Lives Matter members, their allies, and families of individuals who have been fatally shot by law enforcement.
Fascinating – and emotional – meeting last night between DA-elect @GeorgeGascon, @BLMLA and families whose loved ones were killed by police. He vowed to review more shootings than outgoing DA Lacey. @KPCC @LAist https://t.co/uLBttdGVeb via @laist.com
— Frank Stoltze (@StoltzeFrankly) November 11, 2020
According to KPCC Southern California Public Radio, “it was Gascón’s first official meeting as DA-elect” since defeating two-term incumbent Jackie Lacey last week. About 100 people gathered inside the McCarty Memorial Christian Church in L.A., most of whom are part of a coalition that has spent years organizing the community to replace Lacey with a more progressive prosecutor. They had criticized her record of opposing reform policies and brought attention to her unwillingness to file criminal charges against hundreds of police officers who killed civilians in the line of duty.
Lacey, who has been the top law enforcement official in L.A. County since 2012, was considered part of the local Democratic establishment and has been accused of being beholden to the law enforcement unions that backed her campaign.
“What you have done in many ways, you have moved mountains,” Gascón told the crowd. “That is why you are the first group that I have come to talk to because I do respect and honor what you have done.”
Gascón, 66, who served as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2011 to 2019, says his strategy strives to find the proper balance between reducing violent crime and increasing public safety “without over-incarcerating.” He has promised not to prosecute some offenses to the fullest extent allowed by law and said he would not seek the death penalty under any circumstances. In September, Gascón vowed to reopen investigations into at least four deadly officer-involved shootings that his predecessor declined to charge.
“I am deeply committed to taking this county – the largest county in the country – in a different direction,” Gascón said on Monday night. “We have a long road ahead of us, and the drivers of systemic racism in our system are many and they all need to be addressed.”
“I used to say the system is broken, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s doing exactly what it’s designed to do,” @GeorgeGascon addressing families who lost loved ones to police violence during his first public meeting since winning the election for District Attorney. pic.twitter.com/4IMrqZ6IxU
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) November 10, 2020
As KPCC reported:
Albert Corado, whose sister Mely was accidentally killed by two LAPD officers inside the Silver Lake Trader Joe’s while they were chasing a suspect, told Gascón he’ll be watching him closely after he takes office Dec. 7.
“If you do not live up to your bargain, we will come to your house,” Corado said as the crowd clapped. “I will…give out your personal phone number. I want you to understand the gravity of the situation.”
“Don’t come to my home,” Gascón bristled. “I want to work with you. But I don’t react well to threats.”
Later, Corado said he was happy Gascón met with Black Lives Matter first – and that he understood the DA-elect would not be able to file charges against all officers involved in shootings.
— 2UrbanGirls (@2UrbanGirls) November 10, 2020
The L.A. Times previously reported that D.A. Lacey had “failed to deliver on a promise” she made last year to meet with BLM, allied groups, and the families whose loved ones have been killed by police. In March, dozens of activists showed up uninvited to Lacey’s home, predawn, and rang the doorbell to request she follow through with that meeting. Lacey’s husband, David, answered the door with a handgun drawn and ordered the demonstrators to leave his property.
#BREAKING This morning Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s husband pulled a gun out on Black Lives Matter activists who protested his wife in front of their house. @BLMLA pic.twitter.com/wnCFMMvaWV
— Jasmyne Cannick (@Jasmyne) March 2, 2020
Three of the activists involved went on to file a lawsuit against the Laceys, accusing the couple of assault, negligence, and infliction of emotional distress.
At the meeting on Monday with Mr. Gascón, most of the grieving family members “spoke through tears and anger at the officers who were involved” with the shooting deaths, according to KPCC.
“The clock has started ticking, George Gascón,” warned Dr. Melina Abdullah, lead organizer of BLM’s L.A. chapter. “This is a great first step, but we also want to make it very clear that we plan to hold you accountable.”
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