Delusion on San Francisco Crime Will Get You Recalled
One thing that’s become tiresome, when it comes to 2022 progressive politics, is being told that what you’re seeing with your own eyes is not happening: That’s not a fire. That’s not a crisis. And even if it were a crisis, that’s on you; you and your privilege birthed this mess so just pipe down and let the new regime take care of it.
San Francisco voters, by a roughly 60–40 margin, on Tuesday rejected that approach. They passed Yes on H, the measure to recall progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who initially squeaked out a ranked-choice victory in November 2019. Mayor London Breed will appoint a new D.A. to serve until the next general election in 2023.
“The thing about it is, they are always so smug about it,” says Tom Wolf, a recovery advocate and former addict, of Boudin and his people’s insistence that the police were the problem, that the city should not arrest its way to order, and that voters of good conscience must allow Boudin more time to work on various restorative justice policies—for example, declining to prosecute people dealing fentanyl on United Nations Plaza, in case their immigration status would have them deported to a country where drug cartels would murder them and their mothers.
The above scenario was diagrammed for me several times by Boudin detractors, fed up with the D.A.’s office securing only three drug-dealing convictions in 2021. These people saw Boudin and his supporters as willing to sacrifice San Francisco to ideals that did not make things better for the average person. Boudin’s ilk seem to whistle past the uptick in retail theft, the 1,792 accidental overdose deaths from 2019–2021, and the black market drug issues at U.N. Plaza, which I can report is an absolute hell on earth.
Boudin supporters blame the festering at U.N. Plaza on the failure of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to make arrests. “The police are so incompetent and scandal-ridden. They clear less than 9 percent of their cases,” Lara Bazelon, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and a Boudin supporter, told me last week. “If you commit a crime in the city, you have a 91 percent chance of just walking away. I feel like the conversation should be over right there.”
That was the conversation for a while, with the public supporting Boudin’s willingness to root out corruption within the SFPD, efforts to hold officers accountable (including for manslaughter), and the SFPD’s slow-rolling of arrests that was causing problems at U
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