LOS ANGELES – As the first Black woman to oversee the largest district attorney’s office in the country, Jackie Lacey has already made history. 

But the fate of her legacy as Los Angeles County’s top lawyer is up for a vote in November, and Lacey is finding herself in the fight of her career. 


What You Need To Know

  • Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey is facing weekly protests as she runs for re-election

  • Her challenger, George Gascon, was recently the District Attorney in San Francisco

  • Lacey says Gascon was protested by the same types of groups in San Francisco that are now targeting her.

  • The Gascon campaign says co-founders of Black Lives Matter asked him to run against Lacey in Los Angeles.


“If you pitched this story as a movie, no one would fund it because no one would believe it,” Lacey said Wednesday in her office in the Hall of Justice, hours before a thousand Black Lives Matter protesters would gather on the street below to demand her resignation. The demonstration’s numbers have swelled in the wake of George Floyd’s death, as activists demand criminal justice reforms. 

Her critics say she’s failed to hold police officers accountable in use of force cases, but Lacey insists she’s simply following the law. 

“The system says that before your liberty can be taken away, before you can be charged with a crime, the prosecutor must be convinced that there’s enough evidence to convince 12 people beyond a reasonable doubt that you’re guilty,” she said.

Lacey said a de-escalation program she championed lead to fewer officer involved shootings in the first place. 

“The L.A. DA’s office put out a blueprint for change back in 2015,” Lacey said, “this is the way to go. Retrain officers.”

In another twist, Lacey is running against a former Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief, George Gascon, who vows to hold the department he used to serve accountable. After he left the LAPD, Gascon became the chief of police in Mesa, Arizona and then San Francisco. Then-mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him District Attorney in 2011. 

“My opponent was not a reformer in San Francisco. He beat it out of there like the place was on fire. He had protesters – the same types of groups that are protesting me, now – were protesting him,” Lacey said. 

Lacey said it’s a double standard. In an interview on Spectrum News 1’s Your Weekend, Gascon’s director of communications defended his record.  



“Co-founders of Black Lives Matter are the ones who asked George to come and run,” Maxwell Szabo said. “He was asked by a number of people on the ground to challenge DA Lacey, particularly on her record of use of force.” 

During her time as a prosecutor working her way up through the DA’s office, Lacey said she faced racism and sexism. She says the race for her job is no different. 

“If I had not bothered to do the things that I’ve done, I would not have this job. Editorial boards would say ‘she’s just not qualified.’ Yet with him, you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. That’s racism too,” Lacey said.