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Amid police brutality protests, demonstrators target D.A. Jackie Lacey

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is trying to win a third term
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is trying to win a third term in a runoff against former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the sweltering heat in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon before marching down Spring Street to decry the practices of the city’s law enforcement and protest Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, who has come under fire for not prosecuting more police officers for misconduct.

During the protest in front of the Hall of Justice, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies lined the building as families of victims of officer-involved shootings spoke of losing loved ones as protesters shouted, “Say their name.” Diana Hernandez described how her brother, Daniel, was shot and killed, and said more needs to be done to investigate his death.

“Our family is devastated by the policies of LAPD,” she said.

The father of Grechario Mack described the circumstances surrounding his son’s killing, saying how Mack was shot by the LAPD when he was already on the ground. Despite his sadness, he said he was proud to see this movement grow in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

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“My son was not a danger. The police were a danger,” Quintus Moore said. “If it wasn’t for these phones and social media they would be getting away with much more. [Police] lie over and over and over. We can’t breath. It’s time for us to breath.”

Speakers said that the energy of this moment shouldn’t wane, and that politicians such as Lacey — who is trying to win a third term in a runoff against former San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón — and President Trump needed to be voted out of office.

“Jackie Lacey must go. Jackie Lacey must go,” the crowd chanted. “We need to show the next D.A. we mean business,” one speaker said. “Prosecute killer cops. Prosecute killer cops,” they chanted next.

The planned protest follows weeks of marches across the region, expressing outrage at police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.

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The movement has already sparked some change. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a media briefing Wednesday that he is committed to make a $250 million investment in communities of color. The money will be cut from city operations, including as much as $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Garcetti also shared the LAPD’s investigation into 56 allegations of misconduct by officers during protests.

“Just as George Floyd was put in the ground yesterday, we are asking ourselves what comes next in the closing of that chapter to demand justice first and foremost for him and his family but also for all the other George Floyds,” he said. “And those who don’t have names because they’re living short lives, or never able to graduate or get a good job or serving time in prison disproportionately or living on the streets of a city in a tent. These are the moments for us to make sure that peace is more than a moment. It is a movement for each one of us that comes through justice.”

As the throng of protesters increased in downtown L.A., activist Janaya “Future” Khan cautioned how opponents of this moment would try to sow division between the multicultural movement and urged that the focus must remain on undoing a system that’s been unjust to minorities and benefited white people.

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“They will try to divide us,” Khan said. “They will try to use our pain against each other because that’s what the colonial project does.”

Lacey was once celebrated by the Black community for her ascent to lead the largest prosecutor’s office in the country. But for some Black Angelenos, that support has diminished throughout her eight years in office as activists criticized her perceived refusal to prosecute police officers for using unjust force.

Lacey, who was targeted by protesters last week survived a heated primary against Gascón and former public defender Rachel Rossi, but now faces a November runoff against Gascón.

Lacey has described herself as among the first district attorneys in the country to champion a diversion program that routes certain offenders to mental health treatment rather than criminal prosecution. She would serve a third term if reelected.

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Activists criticized the longtime district attorney earlier this year for backing out of candidate forums and limiting public appearances after protesters disrupted a debate.

Then on the eve of her primary election, a video showing Lacey’s husband pointing a gun at unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters during a confrontation outside the couple’s home in March went viral.

Video from the scene shows her husband, David, who is a former investigative auditor for the district attorney’s office, standing in the doorway of their Granada Hills home pointing a gun and shouting, “I will shoot you. Get off of my porch.”

The incident prompted an LAPD response, but no one was hurt or arrested. In April, officials for the state attorney general’s office said it was reviewing whether Lacey’s husband committed a crime and should face prosecution.

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Lacey offered an apology on her husband’s behalf hours after the incident in March but also derided protesters for what she said was repeated harassment and threats throughout her two terms in office.

“His response was in fear, and now that he realizes what happened he wanted me to say to the protesters, the person that he showed the gun to, that he was sorry, that he’s profoundly sorry, that he meant no one any harm,” Lacey said, her voice swelling with emotion.


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