HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — The race for Los Angeles District Attorney could turn out to be one of the most expensive for the DA’s office in history, and on Wednesday night, one of the candidates got a powerful celebrity endorsement.
Grammy Award-winning musician turned civil rights advocate John Legend hosted a fundraiser that included an intimate show in support of George Gascón.
“There’s so much better work that we could be doing to improve our communities, so much better work we could be doing to make people safer and to make our communities more healthy, more just and more prosperous.”
Legend has been a major proponent of criminal justice reform, which is why he said he was endorsing Gascón for the office.
“I’m asking you to join this movement,” Gascón, who calls himself a progressive DA, said.
Gascón, a native of Los Angeles, spent 30 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and served as district attorney in San Francisco.
His stated goal, if elected, is to decrease violence in L.A., which he said starts by incarcerating fewer people.
“We have been able to show that over-incarceration actually makes us less safe,” he said. “And L.A. County is the prime example of that over-incarceration, incarcerating the homeless, incarcerating the mentally ill, incarcerating youth as adults.”
Gascón is challenging incumbent Jackie Lacey, L.A.’s first African American district attorney who has been in office since 2012.
But recently, groups like Black Lives Matter have been protesting at her events.
At an event last year, the crowd erupted when she began to talk about police shootings and the deaths of black men.
“Did they give my brother time,” a woman yelled out. “Did they give my brother time?”
There was also concern over the fact that Lacey failed to file criminal charges against Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic donor who was eventually charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly running a drug den along with his alleged involvement in the deaths of two black men.
But despite the criticism, Lacey has defended her record and maintains strong support from powerful law enforcement unions and political leaders.
A request for comment from the Lacey campaign was not immediately returned.
As for Gascón, critics said he was too soft on crime, especially since he helped write Proposition 47 — which reduced a number of non-violent crimes to misdemeanors and made 10,000 prisoners eligible for parole. Critics called it a get out of jail free card.