The Black Lives Matter legal revolution has come crashing down

Progressive prosecutors have been recalled throughout America
Progressive prosecutors have been recalled throughout America - Eric Lee /Bloomberg

It’s not a good time to be a Leftist prosecutor in the United States. Pamela Price, the elected District Attorney of Alameda County, will face a recall vote later this year following a massive increase in crime that coincided with her policies of reducing criminal penalties and prosecuting police officers who used lethal force.

Price is just the latest progressive prosecutor to face a recall election in mostly-liberal and Democratic California. A year before was the high-profile removal of Chesa Boudin, elected as District Attorney of San Francisco in 2019. The son of two former members of the radical Leftist Weather Underground terrorist gang, Boudin was raised by two other militants after his parents were imprisoned for their part in the murder of three people targeted by the Black Liberation Army.

Boudin as District Attorney General of San Francisco carried out a soft-on-crime policy including the elimination of cash bail and “decarceration.” He was subsequently evicted from office in 2022 by voters in a recall election campaign – supported by many of his own former prosecutors.

Today Boudin is – what else? – a law professor and founding executive director of the Criminal Law & Justice Center at the at the University of California Berkeley, known affectionately by many Americans as “Berzerkley”. Insulated from the consequences of his prosecutorial record, Boudin was quickly welcomed back into the Left-leaning activist fold.

In Minneapolis, where the death in police custody of George Floyd in 2020 set off a nationwide wave of protests, riots, and looting, District Attorney Mary Moriarity is facing a campaign by police and state trooper unions urging Governor Tim Waltz to remove her from her post. The unions raised serious concerns about Moriarity after she charged a state trooper with murder for a fatal shooting of a black man during a traffic stop, even after a Minnesota State Patrol’s use-of-force expert suggested that the officer acted in accordance with his training. Moriarity’s office stated that she no longer needed the expert’s opinion.

Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison, another progressive Democrat, won election only by persuading voters that he would not treat criminals leniently.

If progressive prosecutors have proven themselves so unpopular in the aftermath of the post-Floyd racial reckoning, how did they manage to get elected in the first place? The reality is that there’s big money behind criminal justice reform. In California, Attorney General Rob Bonta and others have been heavily funded by philanthropists, many of whom inherited or married into money. Patty Quillin, wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Kaitlyn Krieger, wife of Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger, and Quinn Delaney, the wife of a real estate mogul, have all been vocal in their support for the progressive prosecutor movement.

Billionaires have flooded money since the mid-2010s towards Left-wing candidates in local prosecutor races, setting up a variety of front groups acting as political action committees (PACs), bearing benevolent names such as the Justice and Public Safety PAC and Democracy PAC.

The first of the high-profile progressive prosecutors was Kim Foxx, a Democrat elected in 2016 to be state’s attorney of Cook County, Illinois. Her resignation in 2023 followed a disastrous term marked by rising crime, adversarial relations with police officers, and scandal. Most notable was her decision to drop charges against the actor Jussie Smollett, who fraudulently set up a hate crime against himself. Smollett was ultimately convicted by a special prosecutor who concluded that Foxx had been guilty of numerous ethical violations, including lying about conversations she had with Smollett’s sister. Foxx released a statement saying she “categorically rejects” the findings of the special prosecutor’s report.

Other far-Left Democratic prosecutors who were elected in part with the help of billionaire campaign contributions include Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Jack Sollsterner in the Philadelphia suburb of Delaware County, Monique Worrell in Orlando, Florida, and two elected prosecutors in the Washington DC metro area: Parisa Deghani-Tafti in Virginia’s Arlington County and Steve T. Descano in Fairfax County, Virginia.

After freeing without bail several members of a mob of violent migrants who, after entering the US under the Biden administration, attacked a New York City police officer on January 27, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg hastily reversed course under criticism and indicted seven of the attackers.

Bragg is the same partisan Democratic prosecutor who, in what’s been denounced as a shocking abuse of prosecutorial power, converted a misdemeanor charge of paying hush money to a porn star into a felony charge in order to put Donald Trump on trial for committing the crime of election interference, in the hope of getting a criminal conviction of the Republican presidential nominee by a New York jury before the November election.

The recent crime wave in American cities doubtless has multiple causes, including the reduction in policing that followed the anti-police Black Lives Matters riots, the Covid pandemic, and the inflation that followed. But these factors cannot be blamed for earlier skyrocketing violence in Philadelphia, where between 2018 and 2020  homicides rose by 49 per cent after District Attorney Larry Krasner dismissed or lost 55 per cent of drug sales cases, 47 per cent of illegal firearms cases, and 26 per cent of all felony cases.

One repeat offender released by Krasner, Hassan Elliot, who had been jailed for illegal gun possession, went on to murder two men, one of them a police officer trying to arrest him. As a critic notes, Krasner’s “DA’s office had repeatedly over time given Elliott a series of sweetheart deals – including free passes on parole violations, failures to appear in court, and reduced charges in criminal cases – and as a consequence, the budding career criminal was free to illegally obtain a gun and murder a police officer.” Krassner filed murder charges against Elliot, and stated that he had been a “wanted, dangerous fugitive for nearly one year”.

Republicans have been quick to exploit the unpopularity of progressive prosecutors. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has used the powers of his office to remove and replace two Left-wing Democratic prosecutors, Andrew Warren and Monique Worrell.

Democratic politicians, if not out-of-touch Democratic donors, realise that they need to respond to public concerns about crime. In overwhelmingly-Democratic New York City, Eric Adams, a former police officer, was elected Mayor in 2021. Perhaps fearing that the growing public backlash against progressive soft-on-crime policies will endanger a future bid for the presidency, California’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom has sent prosecutors to Oakland in attempt to stem the rising tide of violent crimes and robberies.

It remains to be seen whether angry voters and exasperated urban business owners will force more big-city Democrats to move toward the center on the issue of law and order. But even if they do, the damage in the form of lost lives, stolen property and blighted neighborhoods done by progressive prosecutors funded by misguided Democratic plutocrats cannot be undone.