Demonstrators set fire to the front of the California Bank and Trust building during a protest against police brutality in Oakland, Calif., Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)
UPDATED 11:40 AM PT – Sunday, April 18, 2021
With cities once again seeing an uptick in demonstrations and protests, Los Angeles is gearing up for another round of potential violence in the city.
That has L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva worried, as he said he believes it’s going to be a “big problem” that rioters believe they won’t face prosecution for their actions. This he added, is all due to District Attorney George Gascon.
In March, a county prosecutor accused Gascon of playing politics after he was reprimanded for questioning Gascon’s order to drop a case against three anti-police protesters.
Villanueva further illustrated Gascon’s refusal to uphold the laws of the county, saying when he was presented with a dozen cases of solicitation for prostitution, Gascon dismissed them all. He said by not following up on his job, he’s basically legalized prostitution in Los Angeles.
“There’s so many consequences to the decisions he’s making,” Villanueva stated. “They’re very far-reaching, and I think the public is just now starting to understand that. Yes, there is consequence when you start eliminating consequences for the criminal community.”
Villanueva added he’s only spoken to Gascon once since he took office in December, saying Gascon issues directives from his office and expects the world to go along with it.
SAN FRANCISCO – MAY 05: George Gascon spoke during a news conference at the San Francisco Hall of Justice May 5, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
He added there are places where the criminal justice system can be fixed, but it needs to be done properly by incorporating all the stakeholders and state legislators.
However, Villanueva said Gascon is learning. In February, a judge ruled in favor of the county, saying he can’t order his prosecutors to ignore laws put in place to protect the public.
Three L.A. County cities have already approved votes of no confidence in the DA’s special directives, with a fourth considering doing the same.
This year, Gascon issued directives seeking to eliminate cash bail for misdemeanors and non-serious felonies, dismissing misdemeanor charges for things like trespassing, disturbing the peace or resisting arrest, and eliminating sentencing enhancements, including gang enhancements and bail violations.
“We want him to be successful but it can’t come at the expense of public safety, at the expense of victims of crime, and that’s where I have to draw that firm line in the sand,” Villanueva said.
Los Angeles is seeing an jump in violent crimes this year, with recent reports showing a 186 percent increase in murders.
Villanueva blamed progressive policies and movements to defund the police in the Democrat run city as contributing factors to the increased violence.