Chesa Boudin, a young activist lawyer elected San Francisco prosecutor in 2019, is he too progressive even for this very left-wing city? Fight in particular by the conservatives and the police, he faces a “recall vote” on Tuesday which could cost him his place.
This procedure is organized within the framework of the primary elections held in California and in six other American states. It could pave the way for the dismissal of several prosecutors considered too reformist, as in Los Angeles, Chicago or Philadelphia, hope the promoters of this local initiative.
Elected at the end of 2019 with only a few hundred votes in advance, Chesa Boudin, 41, has implemented the flagship measures he had promised: he was the first San Francisco prosecutor to initiate proceedings against a police officer for homicide, it contributed to the release of a man wrongly imprisoned for decades, reducing the prison population…
He also refuses to judge teenagers as adults or to condemn petty drug addicts to prison terms, preferring measures of care.
On the face of it, this may not come as a shock to a European citizen, but this policy is having trouble passing on to many American voters, even in very progressive San Francisco.
Although these reforms did not have much to do with it, they came at the same time as a marked increase in break-ins, especially in cars. A few high-profile attacks, highlighted by those calling for Mr. Boudin's departure, have added to a strong feeling of insecurity among the population, obscuring improvements in other sectors.
But even before implementing his reforms, Chesa Boudin was already contested because of his personality alone.
He is the son of far-left and anti-racist activists sentenced to long prison terms for participating in a murderous robbery in which two police officers and a security guard were killed in 1981.
He was also a translator for the late populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez before choosing a career as a criminal lawyer.
The San Francisco Police Association had spent more than $600,000 on an ad campaign against her running for city attorney, calling Chesa Boudin “the number one choice of felons and gang members.”
According to Mr. Boudin, the police have once again mobilized behind the dismissal procedure which targets him, allying themselves for the occasion with Republican activists and conservative tycoons from the technology industry.
It is a strategy to “delegitimize and instill fear” to “attack progressive prosecutors who have won elections across the country,” he told Britain's The Guardian daily.
If he is impeached on Tuesday evening, the Democratic mayor of San Francisco, who has never openly supported him, will appoint an interim replacement.