Public defender and Jewish son of jailed radicals elected San Francisco district attorney


SAN FRANCISCO (J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Voters here have elected progressive public defender Chesa Boudin, the Jewish son of 1970s anti-war radicals, as their new district attorney.

Boudin, 39, won a close-fought battle with Suzy Loftus, who was appointed to the position on an interim basis by Mayor London Breed last month.

He was a baby when his parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their involvement in a 1981 robbery attempt in Rockland County, New York, that left three dead. Boudin and Gilbert were members of Weather Underground, a radical left military group that was classified as a terrorist organization by the FBI.

Adopted and raised in Chicago by Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Boudin would go on to earn a Rhodes Scholarship and a law degree from Yale in 2011. In 2015 he became a full-time public defender in San Francisco.

During the campaign, Boudin outlined an ambitious agenda of progressive priorities including eliminating cash bail; ending racial disparities in the city’s criminal justice system; forming an “immigration unit” to protect immigrants against ICE policies; and expanding mental-health treatment in a city beset by highly visible mental illness and drug-addiction challenges.

“We’re safer when we stop using jails and prisons as an answer to all social problems,” he said Monday in a radio interview.

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