LOS ANGELES —
For nearly three years, Melina Abdullah has been leading dozens of demonstrators outside the judiciary once a week to call for the overthrow of Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey for non-persecution of police murders.
Abdullah joined thousands more after George Floyd's death.
Chants from "Jackie Lacey Must Go!" echoed for several days between downtown courthouses this month. Protesters hoisted signs saying "Prosecute Killer Cops" and "Bye Jackie!" and read the names of some of the more than 340 people killed by LA County law enforcement officers in the eight years Lacey DA has been in.
In any case, with the exception of one Lacey, a shootout was found to be justified or decided not to bring charges because it concluded that the officer could win an acquittal in court.
"Everyone is deeply shocked to think of the number of people killed or detained by the police or in custody since Lacey took office," said Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter-LA. She criticized Lacey's substantial financial support from law enforcement agencies for appearing to be "in return".
Lacey is the first black person and woman to serve as a Los Angeles public prosecutor. She is aiming for a third term in November and has taken note of the recent crowds and said, "The weight of them and the number of people is considerable, to say the least."
However, she is less concerned about the effects of demonstrations than about being misunderstood.
"I don't want people to think I'm biased or racist or scared or one of those very flattering things that are said," Lacey told The Associated Press. "We shouldn't assume that everyone who says" Black Lives Matter "doesn't care about public security. It's a wrong decision that they are mutually exclusive."
Lacey narrowly shied away from obtaining the majority of the votes required to be re-elected in a March area code against two candidates who ran to her left on criminal justice reform platforms. She faces a runoff election against George Gascon, the former San Francisco district attorney and long-time Los Angeles police commander, who was a distant second.
The death of Floyd, a black man who shouted that he couldn't breathe when a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee to his neck for more than eight minutes, has sparked protests across LA for more than three weeks. The demonstrators want dramatic reforms of the criminal justice system, and this could shape the DA's campaign.
Lacey, who grew up in South Los Angeles and worked through the country's largest local prosecutor, is considered an institutional candidate for law and order. Gascon, who immigrated to LA from Cuba as a teenager, made a living as a progressive reformer.
Gascon did not join the protests, but quickly condemned Floyd's death and police abuse. He has tweeted and released press releases supporting the rights of protesters and denouncing their curfew arrests while asking Lacey to refrain from requesting bail in non-violent, low-level criminal cases after a nationwide order during the corona virus Pandemic was lifted.
Lacey made a statement six days after Floyd's death and was a step behind Gascon when she announced that she would not be pursuing curfew violations and will continue to seek bail for less serious crimes.
"It is so obviously responding to the political pressure from the elections," said Gascon. "But the motivation behind it is not based on their concerns and their desire to be thoughtful and human, but on campaign policy that tells me." If she were re-elected, she would very quickly become the way she always was. "
Gascon's campaign, largely funded by contributions from two wealthy donors from Northern California, has seen a surge in interest since the protests began. He has 200 new volunteers and, according to his campaign, raised over $ 160,000, mostly donations averaging $ 20.
Lacey, who received most of her primary support indirectly from police unions, has criticized Gascon for failing to prosecute the police for shootings while serving as a San Francisco prosecutor, though his spokesman, Max Szabo, said none of these cases concerned unarmed suspects.
The union, which represents Los Angeles Police Department officials, spent $ 1 million to torpedo Gascon in elementary school as a "fraud" and failed leader who fled San Francisco before his term in office. He has been criticized for writing a law that has reduced some offenses to crimes, not charged enough offenses, and that property crimes in San Francisco, mainly car break-ins, have increased significantly.
According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, the number of violent crimes in San Francisco increased by 15% during his tenure, while it increased by 31% during most of Lacey's tenure in Los Angeles County.
Lacey refers to her file, in which she criminalized two dozen officers for unlawful use of violence and is currently the only state prosecutor against whom an official is pending murder – a manslaughter charge of a sheriff's deputy.
Supporting law enforcement at a time when protesters are demanding police relief could harm Lacey, said Eric J. Miller, professor of criminal law at Loyola Law School.
"It used to be a net positive in the days of law and order, and I mean two months ago," said Miller. "But now" I am supported by the police union "or possibly" Black Lives Matter "To say" The police union supports Lacey "is a completely different signal."
Lacey has been criticized for not charging the police with several high-profile killings of unarmed suspects by the police, including one with Brendon Glenn, a black homeless man who had approached the guests of a Venice bar and was shot while fighting with officials, who tried this handcuffs him. LAPD chief Charlie Beck had filed a complaint in the case, but Lacey said she didn't think she could win a conviction.
Tyrone Howard, an education professor who heads the Black Male Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that given the “long ugly history” that LAPD had with black and Latin American communities, Lacey is hoped that Lacey will be different from her predecessor would differentiate. who never charged an officer with a shootout on duty.
Taking the police to account, he said, "I think it was a widespread disappointment that, as an African American, the first to sit on this square, it didn't happen to the extent that people think it's right, "
Lacey said Floyd's death had forced her to wipe off an idea she had put on hold to stop the police from investigating her own officers in shootings, although she knows that this will not be popular with bosses.
Lacey said she tried to talk to Black Lives Matter, but members want to meet in larger forums where she was harassed and shouted at.
The demonstrators showed up at their doorstep even before dawn the day before the March area code, prompting Lacey's husband to put a gun on Abdullah and threaten to shoot. The attorney general is investigating the incident.
Black Lives Matter does not support candidates and Abdullah will not say that it will support Gascon.
"We can't say that because we also have to protest against him, I'm sure of it," said Abdullah. "I only know that it is impossible to be worse than Lacey."