Supporters of the drive to recall far-left San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin celebrated their victory Wednesday, while the ousted public official defended his soft-on-crime policies and blamed “right-wing billionaires” for his overwhelming defeat.
Recall proponents toasted their victory with leaders of the state’s hotel and retail associations and lauded Boudin’s Tuesday defeat as a win for San Francisco tourists, shoppers and workers who had sounded the alarm about rising crime and deteriorating conditions in one of America’s most liberal cities.
“There are so many car break-ins, house break-ins and stolen bicycles,” local resident Kevin Wakelin told the San Francisco Examiner. “No one can afford a brand new bicycle every other week but that truly happens to some of us, and it’s terrible. He [Boudin] needs to take responsibility for that.”
Mary Jung, a chair of the recall campaign, said voters had delivered a “clear message” that they want a new prosecutor who will hold “serious, violent and repeat offenders accountable while never forgetting the rights of victims and their families.”
The group also rejected Boudin’s claims that the recall — known as Proposition H on the ballot — was funded by Republican bigwigs.
“This election does not mean that San Francisco has drifted to the far right on our approach to criminal justice,” Jung 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 with new leadership.”
“This is not a message to the rest of the country, but to take care of our community,” recall organizer Andrea Shorter told the Examiner. “It’s really making sure you have balance around the idea of progressive reform and safety. They are one and the same, and we got off track.”
Boudin, 41, spoke shortly after results showed about 60% of voters supporting the recall.
“The right-wing billionaires outspent us 3 to 1,” Boudin told his supporters, blaming the results on outside efforts to discredit the progressive movement and residents expressing frustration over the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic at the ballot box.
“We have two cities. We have two systems of justice, right? We have one for the wealthy and the well-connected and a different one for everybody else and that’s exactly what we are fighting to change,” he said.
Boudin, a former public defender who was elected in 2019 on a platform of reforming the criminal justice system his supporters deemed racist and unfair, said he understands that “people have a right to be frustrated” but vowed his ideals will survive.
“We are not afraid. Justice is on our side. Our cause is righteous. And we have already won. We can never incarcerate our way out of poverty,” Boudin said.
The son of convicted Weather Underground terrorists, Boudin campaigned on a platform that included promises to keep low-level offenders out of jail and to prevent juveniles from serving long prison sentences.
But Boudin’s light-touch approach backfired amid an uptick in crime — including a spate of smash-and-grab robberies at high-end stores, an increase in attacks on Asian Americans, rampant shoplifting and open-air drug dealing.
Raj Marwari, 40, said he voted to recall Boudin because “things have gotten worse in every way.”
“Safe is not a word I’d use to describe San Francisco,” Marwari told the Los Angeles Times. He added that ousting Boudin won’t fix everything wrong with the city, but “when the player’s doing bad, you’ve got to pull ‘em.”
Mayor London Breed will name a replacement for Boudin until a special election is held in November. Boudin would be eligible to campaign for his old office in that race.
With Post wires