LANCASTER — Supporters of the campaign to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón will collect signatures from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Anthony Avalos Memorial Tree, 43748 Challenger Way.
The signature gathering campaign started Wednesday outside the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles with a ceremony attended by Tania Owen, the widow of Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Steve Owen, who was shot and killed on Oct. 5, 2016, in Lancaster after responding to a burglary call.
“George Gascón, your days are numbered,” Owen said during the news conference. “We will have a new election next year and someone else who is for the victims will be the head of the District Attorney’s Office.”
The signature-gathering kickoff came just over a week after her husband’s killer, Trenton Trevon Lovell, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following his guilty plea to murder and other charges after the District Attorney’s Office opted not to seek the death penalty against him.
Gascón has drawn criticism from crime victims and some prosecutors over a series of directives, issued the day he was sworn into office last December, that include not seeking the death penalty, not seeking sentence enhancements in most cases and keeping cases involving juveniles out of adult court.
In a statement issued on Gascón’s behalf, Mark Gonzalez, chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, called the recall bid “just another Trumpian effort backed by right wing mega donors and those who intend to undermine the will of the voters” and said it “will not stand.”
Desiree Andrade, the campaign’s organizer and spokesperson, said she was “disgusted that George Gascón and his spokespeople dismiss this recall effort as partisan or political” and called it a “fight for what’s right and what’s wrong.”
“They are once again ignoring and belittling us victims,” said Andrade, who said her son, Julian, was “brutally tortured and murdered” three years ago. “Crime does not see Democrats. Crime does not see Republicans. Crime does not see Independents. Crime is a crime.”
She called it an effort to seek justice for her son, other crime victims and future victims and to keep Los Angeles County safe from violent crime.
Andrade said her son’s five alleged killers had been facing either life in prison or the death penalty before Gascón was elected.
“When I learned about what was going to happen, I felt let down by the justice system and me — being a mother — I knew I needed to fight,” she said. “I was my son’s voice. This is not justice ... The sad truth is that he (Gascón) has re-victimized me and my family. He has total, utter disregard for us victims.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva — who has been at odds with Gascón — was among the first to sign the recall petition. Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, former Los Angeles County
Supervisor Mike Antonovich and former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine are also among those supporting the recall.
The city councils of least 15 of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities have passed votes of no confidence against Gascón, including Lancaster, Santa Clarita, Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Diamond Bar.
Gascón has said that he has a “mandate from the public.”
In a March 17 Zoom call coinciding with his first 100 days in office, Gascón said his changes were “based on data and science that will enhance the safety for our community while reducing racial disparities and the misuse of incarceration,” and he vowed that the efforts are “just beginning.”
In the call, Gascón also said “the death penalty does not make us safer. It is morally wrong and fiscally irresponsible,” adding that the death penalty requires the families of murder victims to wait through decades of appeals and forces them to relive the trauma “for a sentence that will never be imposed” in a state in which Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a moratorium on executions.