Chesa Boudin, a self-described Socialist and believer in restorative justice, is campaigning to become San Francisco District Attorney. Boudin believes his unique upbringing as the biological son of domestic terrorists sentenced to prison for a robbery which left four people dead, and as the 'adoptive' son of radical anti-American activist and Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, makes him a perfect candidate to reform the American justice system.
"My parents were members of the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground. They went underground after the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion in 1970 and stayed underground for many years," Boudin told Jacobin Magazine.
That Greenwich Village townhouse explosion killed Ayers' girlfriend at the time and forced members of the Weather Underground to go into hiding as fugitives.
"In 1981, when I was fourteen months old, I was dropped at the babysitter, and my parents went out and participated in an armored car robbery that was organized by the Black Liberation Army," the lawyer continued. "Their role was to drive a switch car. They weren’t at the scene of the robbery. The getaway car drove the people who did the robbery to where my parents were waiting, and they were transferred into the back of a U-Haul type truck that my parents were driving. That truck was stopped at a roadblock before getting on the highway, and the people got out of the back of the car shooting. Two police officers were killed, and a security guard had already been killed at the scene of the robbery itself."
Because of this, his "earliest memories are of getting searched by prison guards, going through metal detectors, having my hand stamped with invisible ink, just to be able to touch my parents."
While his mother used attorneys and made a plea deal that earned her a 22-year-to-life sentence, his father chose to represent himself. His mother is out of prison, but his father is still locked up and will be for the rest of his life. When asked why that is, Boudin said in addition to choosing to represent himself, his father "made himself absent from the court for much of the trial and didn’t contest any of the government’s evidence. And then he gave a closing speech about American imperialism."
Boudin says this experience is similar to millions of kids around America, the only difference being of course that millions of Americans' parents were not a part of domestic terrorist groups who sought to overthrow the United States government and destroy capitalism.
Nonetheless, Boudin was taken in by his parents' pals Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. "Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are my adoptive parents. They were in Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground as well, and were friends of my biological parents," he told the magazine.
Ayers has never shown in remorse for his actions, and in fact, has tried justifying his radical measures. In 2001, he said he felt the group did not do enough after placing a series of bombs targeting the Pentagon, the Capitol, and police stations to protest the Vietnam war. Due to the FBI violating the law while tracking Ayers and his comrades, the would-be convicted domestic terrorist was able to avoid prison time. Instead, he chose to go into education, as he has previously told me in 2014, because he understood this was the best way to end capitalism and change the United States government.
In the Jacobin interview, Boudin praised all four of his "parents" for their ideological fervor, but, unlike them, he believes that the sort of change he wants to see must come from Democratic movements. "I’m a big believer in democratic process for social movements. One of the downsides is that it can be a painstaking, incremental process. But I think it’s the most powerful way to make effective change."
To accomplish this, Boudin believes that the justice system must turn to restorative justice. He believes mass incarceration can be solved by taking a different approach. In short, Boudin seeks to "focus resources on serious and violent crimes. That doesn’t mean I want to send people to prison for life. It doesn’t mean that my goal is to increase the number of people who are behind bars. But it does mean that criminal justice resources should focus on the crimes that matter the most to victims, that have the longest impact and trauma for victims, and that have the highest stakes and consequences for people accused."
For example, he said, "If it’s something small, you sit people across from one another, and one says, “I spray painted your garage and I’m sorry for that and I want to help make it right by repainting your garage.” If it’s something more serious, maybe the damage can’t be undone so simply. But that conversation, with expert counseling on both sides, is far more powerful to help victims move past trauma and far more powerful to help the people who committed crimes change their behavior going forward."
As Townhall has previously reported, the concept of "restorative justice" has been tried in schools in various cities and each time has resulted in failure, decreased quality of education, and in one school district, "middle-school kids now regularly smoke pot in bathrooms — some even in class — and attack staff — spitting on teachers, pelting them with eggs, even threatening to stab them."
Boudin feels confident his message will resonate, and that his Socialist view of the world is becoming more mainstream. When asked if he identifies as part of the Democratic Socialist movement, Boudin responded, "I certainly do and I’m proud to say it."
"When we were kids, socialism was a bad word associated with dictatorships," he continued. "What we’ve seen over the last five or so years, in large part thanks to Bernie Sanders and all the grassroots organizing that’s gone into making him a national political leader, is that socialism has become something that even mainstream progressives identify with. It means things like universal health care, quality public education for everyone, great housing for everyone."
Boudin is currently running against "Nancy Tung, a career prosecutor....Leif Dautch [who] has progressive rhetoric, coupled with a traditional prosecution and law enforcement background... Suzy Loftus, an establishment law-and-order Democrat," as described by Jacobin.