Following mass looting in the area, progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who has supported the defund the police movement, is now "outraged" by the rampant crime and promising felony charges.
"In less than 24 hours my office has received over 1,000 emails demanding that San Francisco defund the police department," Boudin tweeted on June 5, 2020.
Later that year on Aug. 7, 2020, Boudin shared a lengthy Vox article, advocating "How cities can tackle violent crime and defund the police."
But after a series of smash-and-grab robberies resulted in more than $1 million worth of items being stolen from stores in San Francisco's Union Square on Friday night, the city's chief prosecutor is now condeming organized crime and touting "safety" as one of the community's "core values."
Dozens of cars blocked a street in Walnut Creek in front of the local Nordstrom's location, before about 80 armed, masked thieves rushed out, ran into the store to steal merchandise, and then sped away in the vehicles outside.
"I'm outraged by the looting in Union Square last night. We are seeing similar crimes across the country. I have a simple message: don't bring that noise to our City. Great work by SFPD. Standby for felony charges," Boudin tweeted Saturday.
"Trust and safety are our core values in this city. Last night's organized crime in Union Square, Bayview District and beyond must never happen again," Boudin added in a separate Twitter thread Saturday evening.
"These crimes are happening around the Bay and across the country. I stand in partnership with our local, regional, state, and federal partners as we work together to do whatever it takes to keep you safe," Boudin continued.
Boudin announced that an organized retail theft task force created by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office is leading more than half a dozen multi-agency investigations to "dismantle fencing operations that make crime profitable." He mentioned a major case that investigators brought forth with over 100 charges.
"More soon," Boudin vowed.
District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai told ABC7 News that one of the looting suspects arrested Friday night had also been arrested back in March for gun possession.
He said that unless the perpetrators are held accountable, crime will continue to plague the city. "We have to ensure there's consequences for this, and we have to send the message that Union Square is safe, that we want to have people come in and shop, and that we won't tolerate this kind of behavior," Safai said.
In response to critics calling Boudin soft on crimes like shoplifting, he argued that in order to see real change, the incentive has to be removed.
"We need to go to the root of the problem. We need to take apart the fencing operations that make it profitable. And we need to make sure that we're not limiting ourselves to what happens alone in San Francisco," Boudin said.
Boudin's office declined to file charges against one of the teenagers police believe was involved in a March carjacking attempt in San Francisco's Richmond district, which left a 75-year-old woman beaten. The suspected teen was arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting in Pittsburg back in August, according to ABC7 News.
A juvenile suspect was also arrested for the attempted daytime carjacking, but felony charges were reportedly dropped at the time.
ABC7 News reporter Dion Lim discovered that Boudin's office dropped all charges for the minor, including counts of robbery, elder abuse, aggravated assault, and conspiracy that were nixed for the minor, citing lack of DNA evidence.
Lim reached out to the district attorney's office for an explanation on why the charges were dropped. Boudin's director of communications, Rachel Marshall, wrote back saying the office was "legally prohibited from discussing anything related to a juvenile case" and went on to say the statement should not be "interpreted as confirming or denying anything about the case status."
Boudin is facing a recall election in June 2022. He faces criticism from opponents alleging that he is soft on crime. "Working together, we can stop the injustice," the recall campaign's website states. The signatures required to qualify a recall have been validated by the San Francisco Department of Elections. City officials have announced that the recall election date will be Tuesday, June 7, 2022.