Los Angeles-based Hardcore Gang unit has been disbanded for being “ offensive to the community ” in a movement billed as a “ suicide pact ” amid rising murder rates in the city.
For more than four decades, the Hardcore Gang Investigation Unit has been charged with prosecuting the most serious and violent crime related to gangs.
But the County District Attorney’s Office has decided to shrink and rename the unit, which was hailed by BLM activists but criticized by prosecutors.
The office will be ‘decentralized’ according to plans by DA George Gascon and specialized officers will be transferred to other units, despite 700 cases in progress.
Branch offices will now have a “ specialized trial attorney / gang coordinator ” to assist prosecutors with the existing cases, said Fox 11
Critics fear it will lead to more gang violence, with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva calling it a “ suicide pact. ”
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón (pictured) has disbanded his office’s Hardcore Gang unit in divisive movement, critics say disaster for the city
The County District Attorney’s Office has decided to shrink and rename the unit, which has been praised by BLM activists but criticized by prosecutors.
He said: “While gang members are ramping up homicides in LA County, DA Gascon is now dismantling the Hardcore Gang Unit that works with local law enforcement.
This can only serve to add gasoline to a blazing fire of gang violence that threatens the safety of everyone.
“This is not reform, this is starting to look more like a suicide pact.”
A prosecutor said the unit is only being renamed because Gascon doesn’t like it, adding, “ So there is no more hardcore gang unit coming because I think the prosecutor, George Gascon, finds that term offensive. for the community. . ‘
But Black Lives Matter activists praised the idea of disbanding a unit they labeled “ offensive ” towards people of color and low-income communities.
For more than four decades, the Hardcore Gang Investigation Unit has been charged with prosecuting the city’s most serious and violent gang-related crimes (photo file)
Last year there were 349 murders, the first time the number exceeded 300 since 2009 and an increase of 38 percent from the previous year
The move comes after an increase in murders and shootings in 2020, which the LAPD said was caused by gang feuds.
Last year there were 349 murders, the first time the number exceeded 300 since 2009 and an increase of 38 percent from the previous year.
Gascón, who was elected to the DA in November, has already made major changes to the way Los Angeles prosecutes crimes during the first three months of his tenure, including by repealing cash bail and the three strikes rule. purchase.
He also banned improvements in penalties for guns and gang involvement, which previously allowed prosecutors to seek longer sentences for criminals considered particularly dangerous.
The prosecutors who spoke to FOX 11 said Gascón’s earlier changes have already made their job more difficult, and it will only get worse if he continues with an overhaul at the Hardcore Gangs unit.
Black Lives Matter activists praised the idea of disbanding a unit they called “ insulting ” to people of color. Pictured: Crip gang members are being held by agents
“We can already hear in jail and in interviews with police officers on the street that the gang members are making fun of them,” said one of the prosecutors.
“It has undermined the credibility of law enforcement as a whole.”
But Gregory Akili, a prominent civil rights activist and member of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles action committee, praised Gascón for listening to the people who chose him.
‘He’s just doing what people have asked for. That’s why he was chosen, ‘Akili told FOX 11.
‘We called for the disbandment of that unit because we saw how it was abusive, how it was used to criminalize people in neighborhoods, and we saw it was ineffective.
“Now he’s just saying, let’s just swing it back where it should be.”
However, prosecutors said marginalized communities will suffer most without a strong Hardcore Gang unit.
Gregory Akili, a member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ Action Committee, praised Gascón for listening to the people who chose him in an interview with FOX 11 (pictured)
“The misnomer of my business, because I do all gang violence, especially gang murder, is that all my victims are rival gang members, and that’s not true,” said a prosecutor.
“They miss their targets and they get their enemies completely wrong because of their looks, be it a Hispanic man with a shaved head or a black man in the wrong place on the corner at the wrong time.”
Akili said BLM activists had called on Gascón to disband the Hardcore Gang unit. Pictured: Protesters at a BLM rally in Los Angeles last year
Critics who sounded out on social media declined the proposed changes to the Hardcore Gang unit.
[Gascón is] just taking away any law enforcement tools they need, ” one person tweeted.
“This will end well … given all the gang-related shootings we’ve had in LA so far,” wrote another person.
A third critic called Gascón a ‘pro-crime DA’.
Gascón, a former San Francisco district attorney and assistant Los Angeles police chief, had run for sweeping criminal justice reforms.
In comments after he was sworn in last December, he called Los Angeles “a poster child for its failed approach to the fight against crime” and said, “The status quo has not made us any safer.”
His first big meeting after winning his race was with the organizers of Black Lives Matter, who criticized outgoing district attorney Jackie Lacey.
Gascón defeated Lacey, the first woman and black person to run the office, in a fraught election as part of a wave of progressive prosecutors elected nationwide.
Early in his tenure, Gascón angered the Los Angeles police and prosecutors in his own office, who said he was one of the most powerful in California and the US, as a politician rather than an officer of the United States. justice.
Reports of his plans for the Hardcore Gang unit came just as the Beverly Hills City Council announced it was considering filing a “ mistrust ” resolution against Gascón.
Social media critics turned down the proposed changes to the Hardcore Gang unit