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San Francisco ousts liberal district attorney Chesa Boudin

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco residents voted Tuesday to recall progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin following a stormy campaign that captivated the country and bitterly divided Democrats on crime, policing and reform. of public safety in the famous liberal city.

Recall supporters cheered the news at a victory party, with California state leaders from hotel and retail associations praising Boudin’s withdrawal as a sign that visitors, shoppers and employees will again be a priority in a city that is heavily dependent on tourism.

“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right in our approach to criminal justice,” Mary Jung, chair of the recall campaign, said in a statement. “In fact, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades and will continue to do so under new leadership.”

Boudin, 41, was a first-time political candidate who narrowly won in November 2019 as part of a nationwide wave of progressive prosecutors who pledged to seek alternatives to incarceration, end the racist war on drugs and to hold the police to account.

But his tenure coincided with a frustrating and frightening pandemic in which viral images of brazen shoplifting and attacks on Asian Americans prompted some locals to mount a campaign to recall the former public defender and son of left-wing activists.

Partial returns on Tuesday night showed about 60% of voters supported the recall, but Boudin remained defiant in a speech to supporters, saying he was outmatched by “right-wing billionaires.” He said voters were understandably frustrated with the pandemic and a city government that has failed to provide safety, housing and fairness.

“We have two cities. We have two justice systems. We have one for the rich and well-connected and another for everyone else. And that is exactly what we are fighting to change,” he said.

Read more: Chesa Boudin’s recall concerns more than one prosecutor

The mayor of London Breed, who had backed a more moderate Democrat in the 2019 district attorney race, will appoint Boudin’s replacement after the results are certified by the elections office and approved by the board of supervisors, likely d end of the month.

Boudin’s tenure was marked by a deadly battle with the San Francisco Police Department, which accused his office of withholding evidence in a case against an officer. Boudin said police often fail to present thorough cases to the prosecutor’s office for prosecution, making arrests in only 5% of cases. He made headlines when he revealed that police used DNA collected during a rape to arrest the victim of an unrelated property crime.

Proponents of the recall said Boudin was ideologically inflexible and inexperienced, often siding with the criminals instead of the victims. Opponents of the recall said the recall was a Republican power grab designed to undermine public safety reforms.

San Francisco has long struggled with open drug trafficking, vandalism, auto theft and home burglaries. Political pundits say the political newcomer who narrowly won in 2019 was in the crosshairs of outside forces that made him an easy target for public frustration.

Boudin was a baby when his parents, left-wing radicals from the Weather Underground, served as drivers in a failed 1981 robbery in New York that killed two police officers and a security guard. They were sentenced to decades in prison.

During his campaign, he spoke of the pain of walking through metal detectors to hug his parents and pledged to reform a system that tears families apart. Kathy Boudin was paroled in 2003 and died of cancer in May. David Gilbert was granted parole in October.

The recall campaign against Boudin was supported by many of the same people who successfully ousted three liberal members of the San Francisco school board in February. California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, easily defeated a Republican-led recall last year.

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