Pamela Price, the district attorney of Alameda County, California, is currently facing a campaign to recall her from office as residents grow increasingly frustrated with her policies that they say have led to a surge in crime.
The Save Alameda For Everyone (SAFE) campaign filed an intent to recall Price in July after multiple high-level cases of plea deals for violent offenders. Price has repeatedly pushed lenient and non-carceral sentencing policies, often in pursuit of “racial justice,” and has downgraded charges for violent crimes in the county, actions which citizens and business owners told the DCNF have emboldened criminals.
“If you’re not actually charging people and holding them accountable, they’re going back out on the street,” recall campaign organizer Brenda Grisham told the DCNF. “We’re talking people that have killed people are back out on the street.”
Crime in Oakland, Alameda County’s largest city, is up 26% overall in 2023, according to Pleasanton Weekly. Oakland’s violent crime index, which is a combination of violent crimes such as killings, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, is up 15%.
Price, who was elected as Alameda County District Attorney in November 2022, offered a man allegedly implicated in three different murders a 15-year plea deal in March, which the judge threw out, according to ABC 7 News. Price later dropped two of the three murder charges against the man.
The plea deal caused outcry in Oakland, and prompted a petition to recall Price in February, though no paperwork was officially filed until July.
Grisham, who lost her son to violent crime in 2010, was one of the first organizers behind the campaign to recall Price.
“Since she’s been in office, there has been an overwhelming amount of trauma put on these families that’s never been done before. Killers have been pleaded down. Some have been released without the family’s notification,” Grisham told the DCNF.
Price, however, has characterized the recall effort as “consistent with the history of fighting against racial oppression in this country,” according to Politico. “Racism is real, and it does not evaporate just because we won the election.”
Price came under fire from the Oakland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in July, which called for a state of emergency to be declared in the city due to rampant crime.
“Our District Attorney’s unwillingness to charge and prosecute people who murder and commit life threatening serious crimes and the proliferation of anti-police rhetoric have created a heyday for Oakland criminals,” the Oakland NAACP wrote in a letter.
Internal emails in April revealed that Price appeared to be searching for a way to pursue “non-carceral” punishments for those who committed violence against the Asian community, according to ABC 7 News. The revelation caused outrage, and Grisham rallied at the Oakland courthouse steps with other victims of violent crime demanding justice for the killers of a two-year-old Asian boy.
“She’s continuing to say her office has nothing to do with crime. Yeah, they do,” Grisham said.
A memo released by Price’s office in April said that prosecutors should be wary of using enhancements to charges and said not using them advanced “racial justice.” Another memo released by her office in May announced that the penalty for most crimes in Alameda County is restricted to probation or the lowest prison term, according to the Berkeley Scanner, with exceptions for crimes such as murder and sex offenses involving children.
Alameda County residents who have suffered from violent crime for years told the DCNF that Price’s reign has led to chaos in the county.
Ramon Price, a funeral arrangement counselor of no relation to the DA, said Pamela Price is not communicating with victims’ families and has disgruntled many others in Oakland. Ramon Price lost one son in 2012 and another in 2021.
“You owe the family enough to at least communicate with them and tell them this is why we’re not going to charge this,” Ramon Price told the DCNF.
Don Dunbar, a realtor in Oakland, said multiple people were shot right outside his business on International Boulevard in the past few weeks, and that Pamela Price’s soft on crime policies are to blame.
“She’s going to lock people up. They break the law. She’s going to be tough on crime. Then she turned around and did just the opposite by letting people out that are known individuals who have done violence,” Dunbar told the DCNF.
“She doesn’t even care. It’s like she doesn’t even care what happens,” Dunbar added.
Criminals in the city feel emboldened, and police often fail to act as charges will often be dropped, Dunbar said.
“If you’re open, and you’re doing stuff after five o’clock, you run the risk of being robbed,” Dunbar said.
The California Justice and Public Safety PAC, which supports progressive district attorneys running in California cities, contributed nearly $700,000 for her 2018 Democratic primary campaign, according to campaign filings. In 2018, George Soros gave the California PAC $3.65 million, or nearly 100% of its funding, according to InfluenceWatch. However, the PAC did not fund her 2022 campaign.
Price’s strategy to offer violent criminals plea deals is a pattern among Soros-funded DAs, Parker Thayer, an investigative researcher at Capitol Research Center, told the DCNF.
“They decline to prosecute most misdemeanor crimes, things like shoplifting, things like loitering, prostitution, and drug dealing, and also more major crimes they’ve stopped prosecuting,” Thayer told the DCNF.
Price’s office did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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