Justice for Chinedu and a growing coalition of supporters are engaging San Mateo County voters and donors to elect a champion of justice reform for the Office of District Attorney in 2022.
On October 3, 2018, Chinedu Valentine Okobi was murdered in broad daylight by five San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies after they accosted him for jaywalking. Chinedu is not only dead because he was Tased seven times, beaten with a baton, pepper sprayed, asphyxiated, and denied all live-saving measures. Chinedu Okobi is dead because he was a large black man. The country coroner classified Chinedu’s death as a homicide - and yet, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office did not seek charges against the sheriff’s deputies.
The criminal justice system is racist. That’s true across the country, and it’s true in San Mateo County. Black and Brown people in San Mateo County are more likely to be harmed by the criminal justice system at every single stage of the process. They’re more likely to be stopped by the police. Once stopped, they’re more likely to be searched without their consent, despite being less likely to be found with contraband. According to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California Black San Mateans are nine times more likely to be arrested than their White counterparts. This is the largest arrest rate racial disparity in the entire State of California.
Reforming San Mateo’s criminal justice system must start at the top - with the District Attorney.
District attorneys (DAs) are more than just prosecutors. The district attorney’s job is to seek justice in criminal cases, work to prevent crime, and serve as a leader in the diverse communities they represent.
District attorneys in California have tremendous power to impact the lives of millions of people, their families, and entire communities. If someone is accused of committing a crime, it is not the police but the DA who has the sole power to decide if criminal charges are filed and the severity of those charges. They alone decide who is deserving of a jail or prison sentence and who will instead be routed into a diversion program to help rebuild their life, or have charges dismissed.
Your DA can push young people into the criminal justice system or give them a second chance to learn from their mistakes.
Your DA can take officer-involved shootings seriously by investigating them and holding police accountable, or they can turn a blind eye to officers who shoot and kill members of our community.
Your DA can end mass incarceration in California by choosing rehabilitation and prevention, or propagate it by using incarceration as a one-size-fits-all solution to crime.
Your DA can trigger deportation proceedings and tear families apart by cracking down on minor offenses like selling fruit on a sidewalk, or they can use their discretion to keep families together.
Your DA can make sure the right people are charged for the right reasons, or allow the system to target people because of race, because they can’t afford a lawyer, or because they are disabled.
Your DA can choose to keep packing our prisons and jails with people with mental illness and substance use disorders, or recommend more effective local services like rehabilitation and community mental health.
Elected prosecutors are the most powerful actors within the criminal justice system - and are supposed to serve in the interest of the people who live in their county.
And yet, the Office of the District Attorney of San Mateo County has not had a contested election since 1954. In the past four years, San Mateo County voters have overwhelmingly supported safe and sensible justice reforms — but DA Steve Wagstaffe has gone against this tide of change. Wagstaffe hasn't charged any of the 52 officers involved in a total of 19 fatal use-of-force cases in San Mateo County in his time as District Attorney.
San Mateo County does not have a District Attorney who is accountable to, and representative of, the people of the County.
San Mateo County does not have a just District Attorney.Justice for Chinedu and a growing coalition of supporters are engaging San Mateo County voters and donors to elect a champion of justice reform for the Office of District Attorney in 2022. Please help spread the word and donate to help us elect a District Attorney accountable to and representative of the people of San Mateo County.