Two Black progressive women are working to change the criminal justice system in Alameda County, which is part of the San Francisco–Oakland–Berkeley metro area, where they hope to unseat the district attorney and sheriff.
Civil rights attorney Pamela Price and police officer JoAnn Walker recently announced their joint bid to get the incumbent DA and sheriff out of office. They are both running on progressive platforms as candidates in the upcoming 2022 elections to reform what they say are abuses in the criminal justice system, KTVU reported.
This is who they are up against: Nancy O’Malley has been the Alameda County district attorney since 2010 and only once has she charged a police officer for using deadly force, despite numerous calls from community activists to do so in other cases.
Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern is thought to have ties to the area’s racist far-right movement, according to the East Bay Majority.
This will be the second time attorney Price has tried to unseat O’Malley. In her first attempt, she won an impressive 42 percent of the votes. Walker, a San Francisco police officer of 25 years, will be a first-time political candidate. She is running against Sheriff Ahern, who has held his seat since 2007.
A Yale graduate, Price earned her degree at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. She has practiced civil rights and employment law in the Bay Area since 1983, Berkeleyside reported.
In September, incumbent DA O’Malley charged a San Leandro police officer with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Steven Taylor, a Black man, inside a Walmart in April, East Bay Citizen reported. This was the first time since taking office that O’Malley filed such charges against a police officer.
Black community activists say this move by O’Malley was too little too late.
While the covid-19 pandemic has devastated prison populations, Ahern has opposed zero bail and recently attended a thin blue line rally, where he spoke.
“The thin blue line actually stands for the line between justice and injustice and evil and righteousness,” Ahern said. “So we support the thin blue line and we do that every day in our job.”
Price and Walker say it’s time for a change.
“We’re running as a criminal justice reform slate because we believe that together and separately, as independent women, that Alameda County is ready for a change,” Price said. “Alameda County wants police accountability. Alameda County wants fair and responsible justice, whether you’re talking about the jail or whether you’re talking about the court system. These two positions work extremely close together.”
Walker said she is running for sheriff to “curb the number of in-custody deaths at Santa Rita Jail” — the highest of all the Bay Area county detention facilities, KTVU reported.
“I’ve been paying attention to issues that have affected Santa Rita,” Walker said. “The number of in-custody deaths really has me concerned. And I’d like to address that issue.”
If elected, Walker also wants to conduct independent oversight of internal investigations, create a more transparent analysis of the budget, break the backlog of untested rape kits and address the conditions of women inside the jail, KTVU reported.
Although the two women announced their candidacy early, the race isn’t until 2022. For now, they said they’ll concentrate on connecting with voters and raising funds.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
They will make history if they are victorious.
“Black women have never held the role of district attorney or sheriff in Alameda County’s 168-year history. Every sheriff has been a white man, and O’Malley, appointed in 2009 and re-elected three times, was the first woman to ever hold the office of district attorney in the county,” Berkeleyside reported.
Oakland is the county seat of Alameda County. Across the bay in San Francisco, Vice-President Kamala Harris served as the district attorney from 2004 to 2011 before becoming attorney general, a job she had until 2017, when she was elected U.S. Senator from California.
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