On Wednesday, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin unveiled plans for a new Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Unit as part of his office’s wider Victim Services Division.
Boudin announced the creation of the AAPI unit in an effort to better serve the Bay Area’s underserved communities. Boudin then introduced the new unit’s director, Paul Lam, whom he stated would “ensure all AAPI victims of crime receive the services and support they need.”
“I am proud of the work of our office to expand services to our AAPPI community, including through increasing language access and support for AAPI crime victims,” continued the district attorney. “I will also continue to advocate for greater access for all victims to trauma recovery clinicians so that all crime survivors have the support they need to heal.”
The news comes just weeks before his upcoming recall election on June 7.
Since taking office in January 2020, Boudin has been scrutinized for being too soft on crime. The former lawyer had advertised himself as a progressive working against mass incarceration, and his supporters describe him as a reformer of a racist broken justice system.
With the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes due to COVID-19, Boudin was criticized for not being tough enough when combating the attacks and harassment crimes.
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On January 28, 2021, for example, Thai immigrant Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was out on a morning walk in the Bay Area when he was pushed to the street. He later died from injuries sustained from hitting his head on the pavement.
In the weeks that followed, more than 10,000 people signed a petition calling on the mayor and Boudin to resign, stating that they had failed to address anti-Asian attacks
In a short clip summarizing the recall campaign, an Asian protestor can be seen holding a sign that reads, “DA Boudin, your policies are failing!!”
An official campaign to oust Boudin began April 19, 2021.
The odds appear to be against Boudin, with those in favor of the recall, including the San Francisco Police Officers Association, raising just under $6 million. Those opposed, such as LGBTQ-plus groups and the ACLU, raised less than half the amount at $2.8 million.
By August, the petition to oust Boudin in a recall election ran short of the 51,000 signatures necessary to force a recall. By October, 83,000 signatures were submitted, which was 32,000 signatures more than were required.
The Department of Elections confirmed on November 9, 2021 that there were enough signatures to force a recall election on June 7, 2022.
On June 7, San Francisco voters will decide whether to keep the district attorney in office, or replace him.
If Boudin is successfully ousted, Mayor London Breed will be the one to choose his replacement.
While an impeachment trial depends on government officials voting to oust another official, recall elections are held by civilians.