Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, recently initiated fact checking in response to the incessant false public statements made by elected public officials on his social media platform. There seems to be a social media accuracy problem in San Francisco.
On March 26, 2020, District Attorney Chesa Boudin made a public statement on Twitter: “Like a majority of Americans I have an immediate family member in prison.” If the average family size of four is divided into the U.S. population of 330 million, there are approximately 82 million American families. Per Boudin, half those families — 41 million — have relatives in prison, which goes against the actual U.S. incarceration census of 2.2 million. That means Boudin only exaggerated by 2,000 percent.
In May, San Francisco Public Defender Jacque Wilson became the third public employee, following Mayor London Breed and Boudin, to use his city employee position to campaign to have a relative released from prison. On May 20, 2020, Boudin forwarded Wilson’s Twitter appeal and commented, “Marijuana should not equal incarceration. Especially not a 17-year-old case.” Thus, Boudin furthered the myth that jails are full of nonviolent criminals who just committed petty drug crimes.
Actually, Wilson’s brother Neko was arrested in Arizona for being in the business of “transporting marijuana.” Instead of serious jail time, in 2006 Arizona freed Neko with a four-year probation period. While on probation, in July 2009, Neko helped plan a robbery of high-grade marijuana from a couple’s home in Fresno. Though Neko didn’t actually enter the house during the robbery, he didn’t call in sick that night, nor did he try to talk his coconspirators out of the crime. Neko’s teammates slashed the couple’s throats and Neko received a jail sentence for his participation in the robbery and double homicide.
California released Neko in 2018. However, Arizona — feeling responsible for granting Neko the freedom of probation, only to have him participate in a robbery and homicides during that probation period — called Neko back to Arizona to complete his original sentence. I am not gloating over Neko’s sentence. This is about Boudin forgetting to factor in the robbery and homicides to the “17-year old marijuana case.”
Section 182 of the California Penal Code is clear about conspiracy to crimes: If two people plan a crime together, they are equally culpable. Section 105 of the New York State Penal Code parallels California’s statutes. For instance, if a New York couple dropped off their infant with a babysitter before they participated in a planned $1.6 million robbery, and some of the couple’s teammates ended up murdering two police officers and a security guard, the couple can’t claim, “We were just drivers.”
And yet, on May 6, 2020, District Attorney Boudin, using his elected position as leverage to write an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times stated, “My parents, both political activists, made the terrible decision to act as getaway drivers in a botched robbery meant to raise money for their cause. Though my mother and father were unarmed, other participants shot and killed two police officers and a security guard.”
In his op-ed, Boudin deceived readers by ignoring the application of conspiracy statues, minimizing his parents’ role as just “unarmed getaway drivers,” and justifying their actions because they were “political activists” raising money for “their cause.”
On May 15, Boudin made a public statement on Twitter: “I am especially thinking of those who lost their lives in my parents’ case.” Classic Boudin public defender mode: spinning a cold-blooded triple murder into just a “case” where people “lost their lives.” One “loses” keys or a wallet; a murderer doesn’t misplace someone’s life.
On June 5, Boudin stated on Twitter that “In less than 24-hours my office has received over 1,000 emails demanding that San Francisco defund the police department.” Through a public records request, I learned that identical prescript emails were addressed to Mayor Breed with Boudin only receiving a copy as one of 17 “others.” All of the orchestrated emails concluded by perpetuating the current San Francisco social experiment, “We can be a beacon for other cities to follow.” So far on our new beacon DA’s watch, homicides are up only 37 percent compared to last year.
At times, we all are inspired by leaders who eloquently challenge our ingrained perspectives with aspirational visions. Meanwhile, Boudin consistently substitutes fictitious statistics and half-truths as replacements for sensible arguments. One gets the impression that he is intentionally employing public defender spin as an excuse not to prosecute arrests and to free prisoners as retaliation for the New York Penal Code denying him a normal childhood with his parents.
Either way, Twitter needs to fact-check Chesa Boudin’s tweets to preserve the integrity of his position as San Francisco’s chief law enforcement officer.
Lou Barberini is a CPA. Send feedback to [email protected]