Boudin joins district attorneys in Boston and Philly to “address the injustices of the past,” but the involvement of lightning-rod organizer Shaun King is leading to some questions.
Relatively new San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin was right-wing media’s most despised DA in America even before his January swearing-in, and in his first six months he’s consistently infuriated the Archie Bunker crowd by quickly firing several prosecutors, thrown out testimony from cops who have their own rap sheets, and withdrawing charges against a suspect who allegedly attacked a police officer. Whether you consider Boudin’s philosophies to be ‘restorative justice’ or ‘lawlessness’ will probably guide your opinion on the DA’s latest project, which KPIX reports is “patterned after South Africa’s post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commission to confront racism in the criminal justice system.”
It’s called the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, and while details are scant, two other big city DAs are also involved. According to a release, each city’s commission “will create a process for District Attorneys and their communities to hear from victims of police and prosecutor misconduct and find ways for those victims to heal.”
Happening now! Proud to be part of this initiative to launch a Truth, Justice, & Reconciliation Commission in San Francisco. https://t.co/5y8tXgevVn— Chesa Boudin 博徹思 (@chesaboudin) July 1, 2020
According to a Washington Post report on SFGate, Boudin added that "prosecutors have a special responsibility to promote justice and reconciliation with the communities whose needs have historically been neglected. In San Francisco we are working to not only enact changes and create policies that hold police accountable going forward, but also to build trust with those who have been hurt by the lack of police accountability in the past."
Crimes by police are more likely to occur where there is a vacuum of accountability. Police officers hold a position of trust, and the criminal legal system has always considered abuse of a position of trust as an extremely serious offense.https://t.co/2a5OpnQi5c— DA Larry Krasner (@DA_LarryKrasner) July 2, 2020
Building trust in law enforcement is a laudable goal, but a few sharp-eyed readers are sounding alarm bells over the involvement of activist Shaun King, who’s listed as the co-founder of the Grassroots Law Project that formed these commissions. The recent Daily Beast exposé "Shaun King Keeps Raising Money, and Questions About Where It Goes" details King’s long standing pattern of raising significant money for various causes, yet many organizations say they never ended up getting the money. The piece notes that at King’s latest project, a reboot of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist publication The North Star, “the issue was less King’s over-ambition than his absenteeism, insistence on absolute control, and radical incompetence.”
boy shaun king be dropping fresh scams like new sneaker releases https://t.co/PrdBWH5qfk— Lauren Chanel Allen (@MichelleHux) July 2, 2020
The curious lack of specificity of precisely what this project intends to do is further muddied by a lack of political bona fides. Certainly the three DAs are political figures, but the press release announcing this project was handled by a New York firm called Spotlight PR. Their website describes them as “a boutique public relations company that works with actors, musicians, filmmakers and other creative professionals to craft a public image, build name recognition and generate buzz,” in other words, social justice issues are not exactly their bag. So go ahead and check out the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission web page, but frankly, we’d encourage you to think twice before clicking on the prominently displayed Donate button.
Image: @cga7373 via Twitter