“In the age of Trump, brave reform-minded prosecutors are more important than ever. Geneviéve Jones-Wright will be just that.”
There’s big news to report on the race for San Diego County District Attorney. The cavalry has arrived, namely the Real Justice Political Action Committee. Co-founder Shaun King formally endorsed Geneviéve Jones-Wright on Wednesday. This means experienced and reform-minded boots on the ground are coming to town.
Bleating about outside influence began months ago, with appointed incumbent Summer Stephan’s political consultant, Jason Roe, sounding the alarm via Twitter about liberal donor George Soros’ Democracy Alliance taking an interest in the DA’s race.
Real Justice isn’t funded by Soros (it’s Silicon Valley money), but the Greek billionaire has been known to fund similar contests.
Here’s what Union-Tribune political columnist Michael Smolens had to say about that possibility late last year:
If Soros gets in, we’ll get plenty of warnings about out-of-town influence, “dark money” and the possible motivations of the somewhat mysterious liberal activist and investor who’s been known to obscure his political maneuvers. It would be great if Soros and everybody else let us know what they are going to do, but politics doesn’t work that way. His money sometimes overwhelms campaigns, and has been used to both attack the establishment candidate and promote the reformist view of the challenger.
But if it happens and cries of foul from the Stephan camp follow, consider this: Is that much worse than the Machiavellian moves aimed at not only handing the seat to Stephan but suppressing competition to do so? The centerpiece of that effort, of course, was the early exit of DA Bonnie Dumanis, giving her handpicked successor the incumbent mantel nearly a year before the primary election.
County supervisors were on board and appointed veteran prosecutor Stephan to the vacancy. They are also backing Dumanis for a supervisor’s seat that opens up next year. This town’s Republican establishment quickly lined up behind Stephan, along with law enforcement organizations and several top Democrats.
Here’s what Real Justice is about, via their website:
District attorneys are among the most powerful local elected officials in the U.S. These officials have broad discretion to either reinforce or reform structural racism within our criminal justice system.
The Real Justice PAC works to elect reform-minded prosecutors at the county and municipal level who are committed to using the powers of their office to fight structural racism and defend our communities from abuse by state power.
What the group does in practical terms is to:
- Recruit, train, and support door-to-door canvassing teams
- Utilize digital campaign tools, like those used by the Bernie Saunders campaign, for list building, persuasion, voter registration, early voting mobilization, volunteer recruitment, and donations.
- Enable small-dollar fundraising driven via social media and a national email list to raise money directly for district attorney candidates endorsed by the group.
Real Justice PAC gained national attention for their working in getting Larry Krasner elected as District Attorney of Philadelphia, the most incarcerated per capita big city in America.
They raised more small-dollar donations in that contest than any other endorsing organization, bringing on experienced staff, and organizing a voter turnout drive that broke records for turnout.
Once widely considered unelectable, Krasner’s landslide victory (+40 points) in November came as a wakeup call for status quo prosecutors around the nation.
Since taking office Krasner has made significant changes, setting the standard for what a progressive prosecutor can do to address mass incarceration, hold police accountable, and win real justice for victims and others caught up in the criminal justice system.
Here’s the endorsement of Geneviéve Jones-Wright, via organizer Shaun King:
The Real Justice PAC proudly endorses criminal justice reform advocate and widely respected public defender Geneviéve Jones-Wright to be the next District Attorney of San Diego County, California. The incumbent, Summer Stephan, a lifelong Republican, has worked as a career prosecutor in this office for 27 years– helping to directly oversee the explosion of mass incarceration in San Diego County for generations. The time for change is now and Geneviéve Jones-Wright is the only credible candidate to bring the change that San Diego County deserves.
Summer Stephan sees justice through a lens similar to that of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions. We are disturbed by her harsh stances on nearly every essential issue of justice reform of our time. Ultimately, she’s just towing the party line and that’s a problem. Geneviéve Jones-Wright firmly believes that San Diego can be both safe and fair at the same time. Frankly, that’s just not something many Republicans care about.
“I am so excited for the Real Justice PAC to endorse Geneviéve Jones-Wright today,” said Shaun King, Co-Founder of the organization. “She makes it easy, honestly,” King continued. “We see a lot of candidates for District Attorney who talk the talk of justice reform, but it’s not real. It’s not in them. But this is who she is. She is a reformer. She’s firm, but fair. As a native San Diegan, she cares about safety and security as much as anybody, but she also has wonderful plans and policies for a city that is fair, just, and safe all at the same time.”
Mass incarceration actually does not make San Diego County safer – quite the contrary – and Geneviéve Jones-Wright knows this. Because tens of thousands of people are needlessly caught up in the justice system for non-violent drug offenses or an inability to afford bail for crimes they haven’t even been convicted of, both police and prosecutors end up being stretched way too thin. By diverting exponentially more cases to counseling and therapy programs, the time needed to actually solve and prosecute violent crimes, and even build out effective violence prevention programming, will be freed up.
In the age of Trump, brave reform-minded prosecutors are more important than ever. Geneviéve Jones-Wright will be just that.
Meanwhile, the County Supes are up to no good.
The rush is on with California’s conservative politicians to play nice with the Trump administration. The City of Escondido and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are set to join Orange County as a ‘friend of the court’ a federal lawsuit challenging California’s so-called sanctuary laws.
I say so-called because these laws are more symbolic than real, and because various law enforcement agencies, including the San Diego Sheriffs Department, are already quietly helping immigration authorities.
What we’re really talking about here is the expression of intent. The we’re-not-racists in the Washington DC are using immigration enforcement as a bludgeon to beat back the imagined hordes of people of color plotting the overthrow of white supremacy.
The process is supposed to be mean, to instill fear, to re-enforce the notion that some people are more equal than others. I can unequivocally guarantee that if Canadians who overstay their visa were being treated in the same manner, all hell would break loose. And if it were Russians, Congressman Devin Nunes would be leading the charge to save them.
California’s well-meaning legislators passed three laws expressing a desire for limits in the state’s involvement in this process. In practice, the Feds–often with the cooperation of local law enforcement officials– have done whatever the hell they wanted, including acts of barbarism in the name of enforcing the law.
This is why officials manufactured a story about the woman torn away from her children not long ago on the streets of National City. Once the video went viral, she became part of a smuggling ring, a story repeated early and often through local media outlets.
When it came time for an actual judge to hear reasons for continuing her incarceration, the story didn’t hold up. Because it wasn’t true. But the operation was a victory for Homeland Security types because the local racists had their talking points and the local immigrant community was terrorized.
From the Union-Tribune:
Senate Bill 54, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials in many cases when they have unauthorized immigrants in their custody who could be subject to deportation.
San Diego County supervisors, all Republicans, will consider the Trump Administration’s lawsuit against the state’s sanctuary policy as well as California’s lawsuit against the administration’s decision to ask about citizenship in the 2020 census when members convene in closed session on April 17, said a spokeswoman for Supervisor Kristin Gaspar.
The board typically doesn’t discuss lawsuits openly, but any decision to take a side in the cases would later become a matter of public record.
Obviously, there needs to be public pushback at the notion of the County Supervisors playing footsie with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The long-term solution is to vote them out of office. Two of the five seats on the Board are occupied by termed-out politicians. Another two are up for grabs in 2020. And three key elected posts on the ballot for June 5 have progressive-minded candidates challenging reactionary dinosaurs.
DA candidate Geneviéve Jones-Wright is one of those candidates. So are Matt Strabone (County Assessor/Recorder) and Dave Myers (County Sheriff). These are all contests that will be settled on June 5th, Primary Day.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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