As the wave of protests over incidents of police brutality and racist policing enters its second week, progressive California politicians are rethinking their financial relationship with the unions that represent law enforcement officers.
On Thursday, state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, a Democrat, announced on Twitter that he would no longer be accepting campaign contributions from police, sheriff and prison guard unions. He promised to donate roughly $20,000 he has received from such labor groups to date to nonprofits that serve Bay Area youth.
Sen. Lena Gonazalez of Long Beach, also a Democrat, responded with a tweet of her own: “Same!”
Earlier this week, three county prosecutors and George Gascon, who is campaigning to become district attorney of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the state bar association urging the organization to prohibit D.A. candidates from receiving campaign contributions from law enforcement unions.
“Policing is in need of serious reform and it’s important to me that my constituents understand that I am willing to fight for that reform,” Wiener said in a phone interview today. He noted that he was inspired by New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who announced he would be redirecting contributions from police officer unions to bail funds and nonprofits. He was joined by seven other lawmakers.
Wiener said he had heard from other California legislators expressing interest in following suit, but declined to name names, saying that he would rather leave it to them.