LA County District Attorney George Gascón speaks at Culver City Democratic Club
By Alex Hutton
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who is in the early days of his tenure, recently spoke at a virtual meeting hosted by the Culver City Democratic Club.
The club, which helps to garner attention and support for Democratic candidates and policies, holds its meetings on the second Wednesday of each month. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was held over Zoom.
Gascón, whom the club had previously endorsed, was introduced by the club’s president Jeff Schwartz and second vice president Jeanna Harris.
Gascón opened with remarks in which he discussed his focuses for reform. These policies include ending the death penalty, not trying children as adults, police accountability, an end to cash bail, and decriminalization of certain offenses.
Gascón delivered his comments on his 93rd day in office and teased a press conference to mark his first 100 days.
“[I’m going to] announce the early results of all this,” Gascón said. “We have saved ourselves thousands of years of incarceration and eventually billions of dollars that can go into education, public health and other areas in the years to come.”
Gascón also noted that there is still a lot of work to do. LA County recently experienced an increase in violence and he is looking to take new approaches to solve this issue.
“How do we deal with violence in a more thoughtful way that is community-based?” Gascón asked. “We’re bringing you all, we’re bringing the police, we’re bringing ourselves, we’re bringing all the partners together to reimagine how we deal with issues of violence.”
Gascón also discussed other topics such as incarceration and mental health reform. He focused mainly on the methods and means he plans to use to make change, such as an emphasis on social work and legal investigations into police brutality.
After Gascón spoke, Harris moderated a Q&A session. The first question was asked by Harris regarding the case of Monique Munoz, a 32-year-old woman who was recently killed when her car was struck by a Lamborghini that was driven by a 17-year-old male. The teenager was booked for vehicular manslaughter, but Gascón’s office has not yet confirmed if charges will be filed.
Because so many of the questions submitted to the meeting dealt with that case, Harris asked Gascón what he could say about matters involving a juvenile.
Gascón provided limited information but pledged to work with vigor.
“We are going to do everything we can, not only to bring justice to the family and the community in this case,” Gascón said. “But just as importantly, to bring support and trauma-informed care to those that are suffering through this.”
Gascón also attempted to assuage concerns that the case would be impacted by the suspect’s wealth.
“I don’t want to speak for the police department, but based on what I’ve been told, they are doing their work earnestly,” Gascón stated. “And certainly my office will do our work in earnest. I think that accountability is important.”
Harris said, “The concern that I’ve seen is that we are filling this inequity of justice between your salary. We want to end this financial and racial divide that’s happening in our justice system. I know it’s a case that’s ongoing and I know that you will do your best with your office to make sure that justice is sought for Monique.”
The meeting then moved on to questions about other topics. Topics addressed included case appeals, civilian oversight committees for police departments and theft-related crimes.
Gascón discussed issues related to prisoner release such as parole, re-entry into society and rehabilitation.
Harris and Gascón had one final exchange about how club members that approve of Gascón, who has faced recall efforts, can be supportive of him.
“I don’t envy you, but I appreciate you,” Harris said to Gascón.
“For trying to challenge, for questioning and for taking it on.”