I’m not hiding the fact that George Gascón tried to ruin my life, it’s no secret, I wrote a book about it, and I ran political attack ads against him during the primaries. Of course I’m biased beyond belief, but that’s because I had a deeply personal experience with him. He’s literally all over the news every day and I guess I’m just not educated enough to keep my mouth shut. So here goes: this guy is rotten to the core.
With my apologies to the law-and-order cohort, it’s actually not his policies. In addition to lining up with all of the modern criminal justice research, Gascón’s “radical” platform doesn’t seem quite as crazy if you accept the premise that the criminal justice system is little more than the modern extension of slavery, which it unquestionably is. But he’s in a tough spot, because there are a lot of centrists from both parties who are having a hard time parting with their outdated notions that punishment deters crime. (It doesn’t.) In fact, nearly 30,000 of them have already gathered in a “Recall George Gascon” Facebook group, hell of a first week on the job, even by Gascón standards.
But like I said, he’s got the right message. He’s just not the right messenger. And what he lacks in experience, he doesn’t make up with character.
Why is he mouthing off into a microphone like that at all, and why about, of all things, education? He dropped out of high school, joined the service, then spent a lifetime as a cop—with a brief hiatus spent as a used car salesman. (I can’t make this shit up.) Later kiss ass con moved into “management” by snitching on his Rampart officers, eventually kanoodling his way up to LAPD’s assistant chief, then Mesa, AZ’s, where he basked in the spotlight of a very public pissing match with Sheriff Joe. A lifetime republican, he suddenly renounced the GOP and the death penalty (sort of) when appointed to SFPD’s Chief, and then, to everybody’s surprise, SF’s DA, where he earned the honor of never pressing charges in any of SF’s 24 officer-led shooting deaths, inspiring Colin Kapernack to take a knee and BLM to run him out of town. Weird that I’m still talking about the same guy, right?
Gascón climbed the political and institutional ladders not because of his intelligence, not because of his character, but because he knows how to cozy up to authority and how to put himself in the spotlight. In 2012, Gascón waxed poetic about his supposed arch-rival to Rolling Stone: “Arpaio knows how to move the needle when it comes to appealing to the base. What he did very artfully is piggy-back on this fear of illegal immigration that was becoming so prevalent in border states like Arizona. He was able to capitalize on that and he became the hero, the only guy who would single-handedly go after it.”
This is where the story gets personal, and rare. San Francisco had two bicycle/pedestrian accidents in the span of thirteen months. Both fatal, both times the cyclists lived and the pedestrians died. I was the second cyclist.
George Gascón, clearly seeing another opportunity for the spotlight, turned both cases, in particular mine, into proof of a reckless cycling epidemic, then he “artfully piggy-back[ed]” on this fear of cyclists by spinning a web of lies in the local media to ensure that I could never get a fair trial, and SPOILER ALERT: I never did. Gascón’s lies turned me into the city’s poster child for reckless cycling, and he was “the hero” who saved everyone from me.
So sure, he has no legal experience, that’s established: night school law degree from some unaccredited tier-four college, never tried a case for the prosecution or the defense, ever. He only has negative reviews from everyone in SF who’s ever worked with him.
But here’s the rub: when Gascón turned San Francisco against me, he ignited the ire of a small, vocal minority, a tiny slice of law-and-order supporters who get off on telling the internet that criminals just aren’t getting punished enough and they should get so, so much more. These were the people telling me I should be hanging by my testicles in Union Square. For a bicycle accident. These very same people, or at least their friends in LA, are the same folks tearing Gascón apart right now for being an authoritarian prick, for sounding like the dumb cop that he is and always will be.
Sadly, the law-and-order folk are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Message good, messenger bad, right?
Cops are also notorious liars, and famously good at getting away with it. In this way, however, Gascón is not very gifted. He lies, sure, but bluntly, and he was always easy to catch, again and again. Abusing a position of power to lie to the media? That’s some pro politician shit, and George Gascón is warming the bench in the farm leagues.
We need criminal justice reform, and we need it desperately. But not from this guy.