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How One 'Progressive Prosecutor' Dodges Worst Blowback

While his fellow New York City prosecutor, Alvin Bragg of Manhattan, has been put on the defensive over his progressive prosecution policies, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has pursued similar goals but has largely avoided such scrutiny through a careful balancing of safety and reform, the New York Times reports. The newly elected Bragg, like many others in the "progressive prosecutors" camp, has come under fire over increases in gun violence. Gonzalez, first elected in 2017, has sought to address the same inequities in the system, but he has managed to thread the needle with an approach the Times described as: "Listen to the community. Work with the police. Do not speak in absolutes or make promises you cannot keep. Work quietly and steadily, making change case by case."

Gonzalez proclaimed his goal to run "the most progressive D.A.'s office in the country" when he was elected in 2016. But, when he began easing what he saw as destructively harsh policies, he did so fairly quietly and incrementally, said his former general counsel, Tali Farhadian Weinstein. “Not because you’re trying to hide the ball, but because that’s sometimes the best way for public safety,” she said. Yung-Mi Lee, the legal director of the criminal defense practice at Brooklyn Defender Services, said Gonzalez, unlike Bragg's first days in office, focused on “quietly implementing his policies, in terms of what kinds of cases should be prosecuted, which kinds of cases he has been declining to prosecute” — with some getting “a very hard-line approach.” Over a quarter century as a prosecutor, Gonzalez had cultivated a diplomatic relationship with the New York Police Department and says he works to give police "a voice at the table." Department officials, however, have criticized his approach to gun possession cases and his release in 2019 of a list of officers whose credibility had been undermined through misconduct or false testimony.


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