The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously passed a resolution on January 4 endorsing the recall of Los Angeles District Attorney (DA) George Gascon.
According to a press release from the City of Beverly Hills, the resolution was brought at the request of Beverly Hills Mayor Bob Wunderlich and Vice Mayor Lili Bosse. “Over the last 12 months, Los Angeles County has seen a dramatic increase in widespread crime including follow-home robberies, smash-and-grab incidents and the tragic death of beloved Beverly Hills philanthropist Jacqueline Avant,” the press release stated.
Avant, the 81-year-old wife of music executive Clarence Avant, was shot and killed during a home invasion on December 1; the suspect, 29-year-old Aariel Maynor, has been charged with the killing of Avant. Beverly Hills Chief of Police Mark Stainbrook was quoted as saying: “We’re arresting the same people again and again and letting them right out to commit more crime. So, if you look at Mrs. Avant’s case, that individual has a lengthy criminal history. He was out on parole and he was out committing crimes. He should never have ever been out in the first place.”
The “smash-and-grab” incidents are referencing a ring of burglars targeting stores and looting them; nearly a dozen such incidents have occurred in the county since November. Fourteen people have been arrested in connection to them, but they all have since been released from custody as a result of “their age, after posting bail or because of no-bail rules,” according to NBC Los Angeles.
The city council then cited specific policies implemented by Gascon that concern them, including the elimination of cash bail for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, dismissing misdemeanor charges (albeit some exceptions), and revoking sentence enhancements in circumstances involving bail violations and gang affiliations, among others.
The DA did not respond to calls.
The effort to recall Gascon initially sputtered but a new campaign was launched on December 6. One of the leaders of the recall efforts is former Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley; County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was a supporter of the first recall campaign and has been a vocal critic of Gascon. Jon Hatami, a deputy district attorney under Gascon, has also criticized the DA, telling ABC7 that “releasing criminals, not charging crime does not work in Los Angeles.” Thirty-one city councils in the county have issued votes of no confidence against Gascon. The recall will need 579,000 signatures in order to force an election to replace Gascon, according to CBS Los Angeles.
A December 9 KTLA report stated that recent crime statistics “paint a complicated picture of Gascón’s policies,” noting that while “homicides are up 46% and car thefts are up 53% in Los Angeles compared with the same time frame through Nov. 27 of 2019 … Property crime, however, is down 6.6%, robberies are down 13.6%, and burglaries are down 7.7%, in the same time frames.” Gascon’s policies mainly affect property crimes, KTLA report stated, citing The Los Angeles Times.
Gascon has defended his policies, arguing that many cases don’t reach his office before the suspects are released, and “that we go through these cycles, and we go through the cycles for a variety of reasons … In many ways, we cannot prosecute our way out of social inequalities, income inequalities, the unhoused, the desperation that we have,” per ABC7 and KTLA.
In an official rebuttal to the recall campaign, Gascon accused the recall of being a “right-wing” effort to oust him from office. “This is not about keeping Angelenos safe, it’s about a political power grab by well-funded political operatives who have fought reforms—on juvenile detention, mental health treatment, police accountability in fatal police shootings, and the death penalty—for decades,” he said, per The Washington Examiner, adding that “Los Angeles needs to move forward as a safer and less divided community where we focus on preventing crime to keep people safe—not react with political fearmongering or cable news ratings grabs.”