The Los Angeles County sheriff has revealed that he has only spoken to the new reform-minded prosecutor once since taking office, warning that criminals think they will not be affected under his tenure.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva is an outspoken critic of DA George Gascón, who won his seat last year on a reform agenda that Villanueva says provides comfort to criminals and falls short of victims.
Villanueva is increasingly concerned about whether Gascón will fully prosecute violent protesters as the city braces for possible demonstrations in the wake of the police-implicated killing of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago and the pending verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in George Floyd’s death.
“ The lack of a prosecutor could encourage some of our antifa, anarchist crowd, the radical elements, to try to hijack peaceful protest for their own personal gain or agendas, ” Villanueva said in a statement. appearance on Fox 11 LA in which he said he has had only one phone call with Gascón since he took office.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he’s only had one phone call with new reformist prosecutor, George Gascón
Gascón will be flanked by wife Fabiola Kramsky as he will be sworn in as DA on December 7, 2020
Gascón is an attorney and former cop who served as a San Francisco district attorney from 2011 to 2019, as assistant chief of police for the LAPD from 2003 to 2006, as chief of police in Mesa, Arizona from 2006 to 2009, and as the top agent in San Francisco from 2009 to 2011.
He was elected LA’s district attorney last fall and took office in December in the aftermath of widespread protests against police after several police shootings in the past year.
Upon taking office, Gascon stated that ‘Those who hold people accountable themselves cannot escape accountability’. He pledged to abolish monetary bail and the death penalty and pledge to stop denouncing youth as adults and prosecuting most nonviolent crimes.
He also pledged to re-evaluate any criminal penalties if time was spent on alleged gang affiliation or using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Just months into his tenure, Villanueva says the evidence is in: “It’s not working. It has serious consequences for crime victims.
“Yes, there are consequences if you eliminate the consequences,” Villanueva said.
“He issues Ten Commandments, special guidelines, expects the whole world to agree, promises it will work somehow, well, it doesn’t work,” Villanueva said.
A protester throws a trash can into a fire during a protest against George Floyd’s death on May 30, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Firefighters put out a fire in a looted Los Angeles store on May 30, 2020
People are marching in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 2020 in protest at the police-implicated death of Johnathan Price in Texas
Gascón’s agenda has already run into trouble in court. In February, a judge ruled that his plan to stop improving sentences was illegal, the LA Times reported.
Judge James Chalfant ruled that California’s “ three strikes ” requires prosecutors to “ plead and prove ” all previous crimes, and said Gascón did not have the authority to tell his prosecutors not to file such improvements.
“Many victims have come forward saying they feel threatened by his policies, so this is a victim and community-led effort,” said Siannah Collado, a member of the Recall George Gascon campaign.
‘I agree that reforms are needed, but the pendulum has turned too far to the left. Now the victims are the last and the criminals come first, ”she said.
Villanueva agrees. He said Gascón exceeds his authority and is essentially changing laws by refusing to prosecute existing statutes. The sheriff states that the prosecutor has “essentially legalized” prostitution by refusing to prosecute cases that his office refers to him.
Villanueva, left, says there are “consequences when you eliminate consequences.” Gascón is already facing a recall
Villanueva accused Gascón of a go-it-alone approach, saying he would be more successful working with others.
“There are ways we can reform the criminal justice system in the places that need to be restored. There is a way to get it right that involves all stakeholders, ”said Villanueva.
“We want him to be successful, but it must not be at the expense of public safety, at the expense of the victims of crime.”
As Los Angeles braces for more protests, Villanueva said the city was able to avoid the worst scenes of violence of the past year in places like Portland and Minnesota, but it will “ strive to do better this time. ” .
“And we want to encourage people to protest peacefully,” the sheriff said. ‘Do that in daylight, in places that are acceptable for that. But when the sun goes down and you only see people dressed in helmets and shields and frozen bottles of water, rocks … if you’re in that crowd and you think you’re a peaceful protester, you’re not.
“Walk away and we will deal with the people who are left behind.”