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Activists demand that local officials drop support for Lacey

LOS ANGELES – Several Black activists are demanding that local officials withdraw their support of embattled District Attorney Jackie Lacey or face mass protests and political opposition during their own election campaigns this fall.

Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope and Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, who held a joint press conference June 22, are demanding that Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and members of the Los Angeles City Council, rescind their support of Lacey, who has been vilified publicly for not prosecuting bad cops.

“We are prepared to gather our Democratic activists, regular voters and members of political clubs to conduct an email and phone call campaign targeting the political officials seeking reelection or another political office, who did not withdraw their support of Lacey,” Ali said. “We would let them know that they will not have our support in their bid for reelection.”

Lacey, who is Black, has come under fire in recent years for declining to prosecute white officers in several high-profile killings of Black men. Some community leaders say her decision not to prosecute those officers amounts to negligence and a failure on her part to hold police accountable.

“As an African American woman who has taken on systemic racism my whole life, this effort is pointed at the wrong target,” Lacey said in a recent statement. “What makes these protests all the more puzzling is I am running against a man who failed to prosecute the officers involved in the very case that led Colin Kaepernick to take a knee and a man who never prosecuted an officer-involved shooting case.

“I am proud of my record of reforming our system that ranges from instituting anti-bias training to banning the carotid chokehold in our department, to reforming our bail system, to increasing our department’s focus on mental health treatment, not incarceration,” Lacey added. 

Lacey is the first African American and the first woman to become Los Angeles County district attorney. The desertions of her high-profile supporters as of late come during the continued criticism by Black Lives Matter representatives who have organized a weekly pilgrimage for nearly three years to protest outside Lacey’s home and outside the her office in the county Hall of Justice downtown, demanding her resignation for failing to prosecute killings by rogue police officers.  

“During Lacey’s tenure as D.A. there have been dozens of shooting cases by the LAPD and L.A. County Sheriff’s Department of civilians, yet she has refused to prosecute any officer in any of these questionable and dubious shootings,” Hutchinson said. “She has totally abrogated her responsibility to protect Los Angeles County citizens from mortal endangerment by LAPD officers and L.A. County sheriffs who blatantly use wanton deadly force. Elected officials who endorse her in effect give tacit approval of wanton police violence.”

Ali echoed the sentiments.  

“Lacey and her failure to protect us has demonstrated she is more concerned with protecting abusive and killer cops,” Ali said. “Black lives don’t matter to her, but what does matter to her is continuing to be the Black face and tool of a justice system founded and steeped in white supremacy. Her tenure as district attorney has been a complete disaster.”

“The police that kill us and brutalize us need to be prosecuted,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles during a recent on-air interview. “601 people have been killed by police since Jackie Lacey took office and our district attorney refuses to charge those officers.”

Pressure has been mounting for local political leaders who have been subtlely indicating its time for a change as they finally pull their support.

Last weekend Lacey lost the endorsement of two Democrats when both U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, via Twitter, withdrew their support of Lacey for her third term this November.  

“This is a rare time in our nation’s history,” said Schiff, who initially endorsed Lacey after she announced her election bid in 2019 before she faced major opposition. “We have a responsibility to make profound changes to end systemic racism and reform criminal justice.”

Schiff stopped short of endorsing Lacey’s upcoming fall opponent, former San Francisco D.A. George Gascon.

Friedman pulled her support saying, “I no longer feel our endorsement of Jackie Lacey a year ago has the same meaning. We have decided to withdraw it.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose father, Gil Garcetti, served as district attorney from 1992 to 2000, didn’t actually rescind his support of her, but also didn’t give her a ringing endorsement during an interview with a politically based publication.

When asked by the publication if he still supports his endorsement of Lacey, or whether it was time for a change, Garcetti responded, “It may be.”