Last week, I reported that California law enforcement had arrested several people on charges of looting. The alleged crimes occurred as firemen and homeowners had fled the state’s historic wildfires.

This week, one of the region’s district attorney says that law enforcement should weigh looters’ needs before charging them with looting.

The new mandate, set forth by Contra Costa County District Attorney Diane Becton, makes it tougher to prosecute looting cases in the county, which sits just outside San Francisco.

Investigators must now consider “was this theft offense substantially motivated by the state of emergency, or simply a theft offense which occurred contemporaneously to the declared state of emergency?,” according to the policy reported by local outlet East County Today.

In making that determination, they must also consider five other factors, including “was the theft committed for financial gain or personal need?

Becton, was a judge in Contra Costa County for over 20 years. She was elected DA in 2017, becoming the county’s first female and African American to serve as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is down for this new approach.

Her new policy drew strong rebukes from Antioch Mayor Sean Wright and the president of the Antioch police union.

“When I read the policy, it was disturbing,” Wright told East County Today. “I understand the difference between protesting and looting. Peaceful protesting is okay, looting is not.

“For the District Attorney to put out that kind of plan is irresponsible and where do you exactly draw the line on need because these are people’s businesses that are being impacted and livelihoods that are being destroyed.”

Steve Aiello, president of the Antioch Police Officers Association, called the guidelines “reckless,” saying they hurt the “community, local business and business owners.”

“It shows the District Attorney’s Office is picking and choosing the types of crimes it will prosecute versus just following the laws on the books,” he said. “At what point does our District Attorney’s Office advocate for the victims. If it’s not the District Attorney’s Office, who then becomes the advocate and safety net for the victims and ensuring restitution is made.”

Becton has the social justice bona fides that you would expect.

Becton has also garnered a name for herself in co-authoring an opinion piece for Politico alongside district attorneys Kim Foxx of Chicago, St. Louis’ Kim Gardener and two two others, writing:

“Our criminal legal system was constructed to control Black people and people of color. Its injustices are not new but are deeply rooted in our country’s shameful history of slavery and legacy of racial violence. The system is acting exactly as it was intended to, and that is the problem. We should know: We’re Black, we’re female, and we’re prosecutors. We work as the gatekeepers in this flawed system. And we have some ideas for how to fix it.”

Reports indicate that Becton received the support of billionaire George Soros, and had a troubled path to her position.

Soros has waded into the Contra Costa County DA’s race to the tune of $275,000 backing interim Democrat DA Diana Becton.

…Becton, 66, was chosen as Contra Costa County’s interim DA last September among five applicants to the position, in a narrow 3-2 vote by the county’s board of supervisors.

The choice by the board of supervisors came despite the revelation that the former judge plagiarized significant portions of her application and unlike other candidates, including Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association endorsed Paul Graves, has no prosecutorial experience.

One of the biggest lessons in this story is that ALL the races in November are important, local races most of all.


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