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Oakland’s Progressive DA, Pamela Price, Facing Recall Drive

District Attorney Pamela Price is tired of journalists. As one of the most progressive district attorneys and the first Black woman to hold the position in Alameda County, Ca., she’s encountered extreme scrutiny since taking office in January 2023, Mother Jones reports. She had campaigned to roll back mass incarceration, address racial disparities, and hold more police accountable, and won the race by a close margin, 27,000 votes. Before she could unpack her boxes, critics launched an effort to recall her, funded primarily by a handful of wealthy hedge-fund and real estate investors. Price says they’re spreading misinformation to stoke people’s fears about crime, turning her into a scapegoat. She thinks the media are amplifying their message, blaming her for social problems that existed long before she took office—problems that her predecessor did not face as much condemnation for. “There’s a double standard for progressive prosecutors,” she says. “No one was looking at the [prior] DA and saying, ‘What are you doing about this?’ Now, everyone’s looking.”


Price is among a cadre of progressive DAs who are challenging conventional political wisdom about crime and punishment. This “puts a unique target on their backs,” says Insha Rahman, who leads the justice advocacy group Vera Action. Since 2017, lawmakers in at least 17 states have introduced bills to remove power from democratically elected progressive prosecutors. In 2022, not long before Price took office, rich businessmen funded a successful recall of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin. Now some of the same financiers are attacking Price. In early March, her opponents said they submitted more than the 73,195 signatures needed to trigger a recall election. This time, they have the sympathies of a group of mothers of color who are grieving shootings and believe Price hasn’t punished the perpetrators harshly enough. The scrutiny on Price is exacerbated because of her race and gender, a trend that progressive DAs of color have seen nationally said Nicole Lee of the Urban Peace Movement, a racial justice group.

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