San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is the subject of an upcoming recall election, or Proposition H. This recall effort is the latest reactionary attempt to use electoral loopholes to further the political power of the right in California. All progressive San Franciscans can unite in opposing the recall by voting ‘no’ on H on June 7.
The recall is premised on the claim that crime in San Francisco is ballooning due to Boudin’s progressive policies, often called “soft-on-crime.” But, according to crime statistics from the SFPD itself, violent crime decreased 19% between 2019 — when Boudin was elected — and the end of 2021. Over the same period, property crime decreased by 11%. Boudin has even prosecuted crimes in most of these categories at higher rates than the previous San Francisco District Attorney.
The campaign to recall Boudin is not a spontaneous grassroots initiative of San Francisco’s working class — rather, it is a well-orchestrated and extraordinarily well-funded initiative of the local ruling class. The two most significant forces behind the campaign are the San Francisco Police Officers Association and a political action committee called Neighbors for a Better San Francisco.
The SFPOA and other law enforcement advocacy groups spent a whopping $650,000 in a failed attempt at defeating Boudin in the 2019 D.A. election. Given that Boudin campaigned on police accountability, SFPD has had it out for him since before his election. Within days of being sworn in, recallchesaboudin.org was registered as a domain. Police associations like SFPOA are infamous advocates for total police impunity and fiercely defend officers with egregious misconduct allegations.
Neighbors for a Better San Francisco is the main financial backer of the recall effort, contributing 68% of the total $2.6 million raised by the recall campaign. The group also backed the recent reactionary school board recall with a donation of about half a million dollars. Neighbors for a Better San Francisco is not even based in the city of San Francisco — they list neighboring San Rafael as their address in tax filings. This organization is a shell that allows less than two dozen CEOs, venture capitalists and investors to cheer on the gentrification of the city and bolster the protection of their business interests.
By far, the largest contribution to Neighbors for a Better San Francisco originates from billionaire William Oberdorff, who donated $600,000 in 2021. Oberdorff is also a major financial supporter of infamous Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
Mayor London Breed also stands to benefit enormously should the recall succeed. If Boudin is ousted, Breed can bypass the democratic process and appoint a district attorney of her choosing. The clear goal of all the forces backing the recall effort is the installation of a tough-on-crime D.A.
Elected on promises of decarceral reform like ending cash bail, reassessing wrongful convictions, and refusing to collaborate with ICE, Boudin’s use of incarceration as a last resort comes from his own parents’ experience. At 14 months old, his parents Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert — members of the Weather Underground — were convicted in 1981 for the robbery of a Brinks armored car in conjunction with the Black Liberation Army.
During his tenure, Boudin has honored his campaign pledges of criminal justice reform, enacting stricter resolutions to hold police accountable, eliminating cash bail, reducing populations in cramped jails during the worst stretches of COVID-19 and establishing the Economic Crimes Against Workers Unit to fight wage theft and other workplace abuse.
These achievements make Boudin a prime target for San Francisco’s burgeoning right wing.
In California, recall campaigns are becoming commonplace. This effort comes in the wake of two other reactionary recall campaigns against Governor Gavin Newsom last year and against several members of the San Francisco Board of Education earlier this year. The Newsom recall fortunately failed, but the pro-charter school board recall won out.
As a Democrat and a district attorney, Boudin’s progressivism has limits, but his determination to reform mass incarceration, potentially easing the endless war on oppressed communities in the United States, is welcome. All progressive San Franciscans should unite to shut down this right-wing recall campaign seeking his removal. NO to the recall!