Elect George Gascón to push Los Angeles County in the right direction.
About the Position
The district attorney (DA) serves as the chief prosecutor for their designated county. The district attorney’s duties include reviewing police reports, determining criminal charges, and prosecuting criminal cases. The district attorney oversees a staff of prosecutors, who are responsible for presenting cases against individuals suspected of breaking the law, initiating investigations and recommending sentencing. The district attorney holds the power to grant immunity, conduct investigations of individuals, plea bargain with defendants, and is responsible for conducting investigations into every police misconduct incident.
About the District
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. It encompasses a population of over 10 million, with significant Latinx, Black, and Asian populations. Notable cities within the county include Los Angeles, Inglewood, Long Beach, and Compton. Notable issues within the county’s criminal justice system include high rates of incarceration and police brutality.
About the Race
In the March 3 primary election with three candidates, challenger George Gascón qualified along with incumbent Jackie Lacey, who failed to secure over 50 percent of the vote. At that time, Gascón trailed DA Lacey by a margin of 20 percent. Since then, as a result of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, DA Lacey has been under increasing pressure to account for her problematic record of not listening to community groups and failing to prosecute police officers. Several elected officials have also rescinded their endorsements of DA Lacey since the start of the demonstrations.
Gascón’s campaign is largely funded through individual donations, as well as contributions from labor unions and law firms. He has joined forces with San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin and Contra Costa DA Diana Becton to call all DAs and DA candidates to reject police union support as a conflict of interest. Gascón has not received any police, corporate, or fossil fuel money.
Opponent Jackie Lacey’s campaign’s funding is mostly composed of law-enforcement contributions, including a $1 million donation from the Los Angeles Police Protective League, $800,000 from the L.A. County sheriff’s deputies, and over $100,000 from the Peace Officers Research Association of California. Unions such as the Los Angeles Police Protective League have also contributed over $1 million to an anti-Gascón PAC. This push against Gascón from law enforcement is a direct result of Gascón’s commitment toward stricter oversight of police use of force.
About the Candidate
George Gascón, a Cuban immigrant and longtime Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) police officer is known as a groundbreaking progressive leader in criminal justice reform in the country. Gascón is running for district attorney in Los Angeles because he believes the way the criminal justice system operates in Los Angeles must change.
George Gascón moved back to L.A. to run for district attorney there, leaving his role as district attorney in San Francisco, where he was appointed to the seat in 2011, and he was re-elected twice. As the San Francisco DA, Gascón led a slate of progressive reforms, including lowering incarceration rates, expunging more than 9,000 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975, and launching a first-of-its-kind website that provides data on prosecutions, caseloads, and trial outcomes to the public in order to increase accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system.
Gascón started his career as a cop in Los Angeles. His trajectory took him to the top of the LAPD, where, as assistant chief, he oversaw operations of more than 9,000 officers. Throughout his career, Gascón has demonstrated the ability to think in new ways about complex problems in criminal justice and to create meaningful change in the culture and operations of police departments, including the LAPD, the Mesa Police Department, and the SFPD.
In his role as San Francisco DA, Gascón increased the prosecution of sexual assault cases, and created response teams, education programs, partnerships, and a new law-enforcement unit focused on addressing child abuse and sexual assault. He implemented practices and resources that centered on survivors and is currently proposing policies that protect undocumented, LGBTQ, and student survivors while prioritizing cultural and linguistic competency.
Gascón’s priorities for Los Angeles County address issues of immigration, corruption, and climate justice. Gascón has experience prosecuting both corporations and individual polluters and has committed to protecting the environment. Additionally, Gascón promises to fight against public corruption and promote accountability among Los Angeles County officials. Gascón is committed to opposing the death penalty and the use of money bail, both of which disproportionately target Black and brown populations.
One of Gascón’s most notable priorities is addressing police brutality and holding law enforcement accountable. This is particularly relevant, considering Los Angeles County police have killed nearly 900 people since 2000, of which a majority are Black and brown victims. Only two officers have been charged for shooting civilians while on duty. This discrepancy is largely due to incumbent DA Jackie Lacey’s failure to prosecute the officers. In nearly all 886 cases of police violence, DA Lacey deemed use of force as legally justified.
Gascón’s track record and position on law-enforcement accountability is rare, particularly for someone with a law-enforcement background. During his term as San Francisco DA, Gascón prosecuted more than 30 police officers for criminal conduct. In 2019, while many police, law-enforcement officials, and prosecutors fought against its passage, Gascón advocated for Assembly Bill 392, also known as the Stephon Clark Bill, or the deadly use of force bill, which created a stricter standard for police use of force. He remains the only law-enforcement official in California to advocate for this legislation; every other prosecutor, including incumbent L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey, refused.
Throughout all these initiatives, Gascón has demonstrated an awareness of underserved communities’ needs. His awareness of the intricacies of racial bias is necessary, now more than ever, for the district attorney’s office. That awareness, however, is not what makes Gascón an ideal choice. While critics tend to focus on his background as a police officer who rose through the ranks, it is his departure from policing in pursuit of systemic reform that sets him apart.
In a time of heightened injustice, Gascón stands out from other political candidates in that he has studied his past actions and outcomes, listened to communities affected by the system, and changed his views and behaviors in response to become a more effective and compassionate leader. His willingness to prosecute police brutality cases and his track record on creating solutions that have become models for criminal justice reform advocates are highlights of his case for becoming Los Angeles’s next district attorney.
Gascón is a compelling challenger to incumbent Jackie Lacey, who has consistently resisted public pressure to hold police accountable for the more than 618 people who have been killed by police in Los Angeles County since her election in 2013. According to our analysis, George Gascón is the strongest choice for equitable and representative leadership in office.
About Courage California’s Endorsement
After a comprehensive review of George Gascón’s record and from local partners, we have determined that he is committed to criminal justice reform, environmental justice, racial equity and justice, and immigrant rights. His experience in the community and pledges to refuse money from corporate PACs, police, and the fossil fuel industry are in alignment with the progressive future Courage California hopes to achieve in which special interests have no place in politics. Gascón’s dedication to holding law enforcement accountable for police brutality demonstrates the integrity Californians need more now than ever. We are confident that he will rule cases with equity and justice. Courage California is proud to endorse George Gascón.