District Attorney Chesa Boudin told an audience of supporters at Manny's on Thursday that he "refuse[s] to be distracted" by the ongoing effort to recall him over what he says is a false perception of the reality of the city.
The narrative around Boudin, who took office in January 2020 as a progressive prosecutor with a background as a public defender, has no doubt been complicated by the pandemic and the spike in burglaries that San Francisco saw last year. It's been doubly complicated by a string of high-profile violent crimes and vehicular manslaughters attributed to suspects who had been let out of jail during the pandemic under various circumstances. While Boudin may not be to blame for any or most of these things, it becomes a hard narrative to disentangle when perceptions about the city being in chaos become entrenched.
Boudin tried to address some of this at the event last night, as the Chronicle reports, with cafe owner and new SFMTA Board Member Manny Yekutiel in conversation with him on stage. All the while, reportedly, there was a pro-recall heckler on a megaphone just outside the door.
He compared recall efforts, against him and other political figures across the country, to Trump's "Big Lie" about winning the election. And he said that in general these recalls were not about actual impeachable offenses, but are "happening because people don’t like the outcome of elections."
He also pointed to statistics about crime doing down 20% overall last year, his first year in office, but he attributed that to the pandemic and not to any work his office had done.
When asked if the recall effort has distracted him from his work, he said, "I refuse to be distracted." And he went on to cite the accomplishments of his term so far, which include criminal prosecutions against five police officers for use of excessive force.
"It’s been 18 months — I’ve been able to go to my office for two of them,” he said, per the Chronicle. “And they want to recall me now, when crime rates have fallen by 20%?"
Critics will continue to argue that with property crime spiking in multiple neighborhoods over the last year, we need a DA who is going to be tougher on repeat offenders and not easier out of a desire for reform the criminal justice system as a whole.
Most recently, there was the case of a 94-year-old woman who was randomly stabbed while taking her morning walk in the Tenderloin, and the suspect was a repeat offender with both burglary and a dismissed murder charge on his rap sheet. Boudin was quick to point out in the press that he had recommended that the suspect, Daniel Cauich, not be let out on bail weeks earlier on a new burglary charge, but he was overruled by a judge.
Boudin conceded at Thursday's event, "there’s room for improvement, I’m aware," and said he would work "tirelessly" to make sure San Franciscans feel safe.