tv KQED Newsroom PBS May 20, 2022 7:00pm-7:30pm PDT
♪ ♪ tonight on kqed newsroom, as is san francisco district attorney faces a recall, he sits down with us to talk about public safety and what he says this is all about. a special kqed investigation examines how a plot to blow up california's democratic headquarters reveals extremists hiding in plain sight. we take a walk along san jose guadalupe trail and the miles of murals in this week's something beautiful. from kqed headquarters in san francisco, this friday, may
20th, 2022. welcome to kqed newsroom. on june 7, san francisco voters will determine whether the city's top prosecutor will keep his job or be recalled. those who want to remove district attorney from office say his policies are too soft on crime and that san francisco has become unsafe. but many who support him say that he is being blamed unfairly for car break-ins, theft and overdoses. and that a recall will not solve the problems. he joins me now. welcome, thank you for being here. let's talk about what is going on and some cisco because there is this feeling by many that it is unsafe, that crime is rampant and these problems need to be fixed. you are one piece of that puzzle. you are not the whole thing. if you had a magic wand, what would you say it would take? the time, the money, the collaboration, what needs to happen to help people feel
safe? >> there is nothing more important to me and my office been making san francisco safe and making sure everyone feel safe in their home, in their neighborhood, everywhere in our amazing city. we have challenges when it comes to public safety. they are not new, some of them got worse during the pandemic, some of them improved. we are dealing with the same kind of challenges that every big city in california and across america is dealing with. but the recall is spending millions of dollars largely from out-of-town republicans to try to promote fear, undermine a sense of safety in our community. >> what would it take to fix what people are feeling great now? >> we need to make sure people understand what the data shows. overall, crime is down. 28,000 fewer reported crimes during the 2.5 years of my administration when compared with the 2.5 years prior to my time in office. but there is a lot of focus on crime. i think that's a good thing.
we need to solve crime. there is a victim, someone is suffering. that's why i have made it a priority to expand victim services and lead law enforcement operations that are collaborative between my agency and other partner law enforcement agencies that get at the root causes of crime and take apart the big fish. like our auto burglary operation that arrested a major player that was moving millions of dollars of stolen electronics from parked cars in san francisco to places as far away as eastern europe and vietnam. >> what about the other agencies? >> that is how the recall folks would like to supplement -- simplify the conversation. this suggests that the changing the district attorney could
make these issues disappear. we know that's not true because san francisco has always had high rates of property crime since way before i was in office. we know it's not true because there is no jurisdiction in this country, no matter how tough on crime you get. go to sacramento with a formerly republican da now running for attorney general against the democrat incumbent. where crime rates have skyrocketed far worse than san francisco over the last couple of years. it is simply not true. for me to do my job well, to hold people accountable, the first step in every case is that people have to call the police and report crime and police have to investigate and bring the office solid investigations. >> you have said police are not pleasing disco closing cases and bring you people to charge. >> you don't need to take my word for it, the police department has an easy to use
data dashboard where they see crime rates and clearance rates. during the time i have been in office, there have been double- digit declines in the rate of which police solve every category of crime as compared to 2019. there's real challenges that police are facing. people are wearing face masks a lot, even video footage can sometimes be inadequate. we also know that the police department says they are really understaffed and are asking for more resources. so i'm not sure what the problem is. what i know is for me to prosecute and hold people accountable, whether you believe in the toughest solutions or diversion and restoring justice. no matter where you come down on that spectrum, the first step is police have to make an arrest and bring the an investigation. >> the counter argument here that i have heard is police say the da is not going to charge them, what is the point of
arresting? >> i am charging crimes at higher rates than their predecessor. and at higher rates than others around the area. so it is simply and at the monster bleed dishonest. what would happen in our system is every agency that disagreed with the way another agency was doing his job simply said i give up, i'm not going to do mine. imagine if every time a judge but released someone, if the judges are going to do things that way, i am just not going to bother filing charges at all. the whole system would break down. we need police to do their job, whether they agree or disagree with the laws passed in sacramento, whether the a to three or disagree with the people san francisco voters elect. we all have to do our jobs and depend on each other. i count on the police to respond to crimes, to investigate honestly, to serve
courageously and to make arrests so that i can prosecute people who have caused harm. >> you shared your thoughts with us here on kqed newsroom, one of the earliest times was when you were da elect, you hadn't even taken office yet. you sat down with one of my colleagues and you talked about your plans for what was to come. and you spoke at that time about what you are planning to do in terms of your relationship with the police. >> are you concerned police will undermine what you want to do? >> i think it starts with me communicating that i want to ensure the hard work is followed through on. >> that is not how many would describe the police feeling now, despite your relationship with the police chief as being workable, the police department overall seems to be hostile. so what happened to the plan?
>> i have done what i can to extend olive branches, i have reached out to the president of the police union, asked what i can do to help him and his team. it seems like the police union is really intent on attacking whoever holds this office. if it were just me, then you could say maybe something about chesa boudin. but the police union has attacked and undermined every single da going back for decades. kamala harris, even the chief of police immediately prior to being appointed. when you see that kind of a pattern, overtime, over decades, start to wonder why is it so hard for the police union leadership to work with the office? i have an open door policy, i am ready and willing to be working with anybody who shares my commitment to make san francisco safer for everyone. >> you have had some tough times in office, not the least
of with the changes your office has had to make to operate within the framework of the pandemic. you have followed through some of your campaign promises, you ended cash bail, you have fewer people incarcerated than there were before the pandemic, before you took office. you have also spoken with pride about your work in terms of supporting victims of crime. what more would you want to accomplish? >> my number one priority has been to expand resource for crime victims. i am tremendously proud of what has been a historic expansion in the number of victim advocates in our office. we have increased the number of chinese speaking victim advocates by about 500% since i took office. and for the first time in our history, we have victim advocates dedicated to supporting property crime victims. it's amazing to think that in a city that led the country in
property crime in the years before i took office, we didn't have a single property crime victim advocate. now we have two positions focusing on those areas. so i want to continue to expand our resources. for sexual assault survivors, domestic violence survivors, and i want to make sure my office is leading the way not just on the responding after they occur but preventing them from occurring. a lawsuit against ghost manufacturers, making guns decide! designed to be sold to people. we don't want to wait until the next gun crime or homicide occurs. we want to get ahead of that by preventing those guns are meeting our street in the first place. >> mr. boudin, you are married, you have a young child, you have lived here, you share many of the will.
same concerns. how do you feel, do you feel that shift in terms of safety? >> i am tremendously proud of the city i live in, i married my wife here, my son was born here in san francisco at ucsf where my wife works. i'm excited to be able to raise my son in a city that is not only one of the safest in the country, but also leading the way on so many issues. marriage equality, marijuana decriminalization and criminal justice reform. that doesn't mean we don't have work to do, of course we do. every big city in america does. sacramento, oakland, cities near and far have far worse problems when it comes to violent crime than san francisco. and of course i want neighborhoods, especially like the tenderloin and mission and soma that we know for decades have been dumping grounds for our public health crisis. addiction, mental illness.
we need those neighborhoods to be revitalized, but it's not going to happen overnight. i took office in the very beginning of 2020. and within a couple of months, i was locked out of my office by the pandemic. the changes we have experienced in the last couple years are driven primarily by a global pandemic. it's something we have all experienced. the way we work, socialize, live our lives. and the recall is unfairly and dishonestly suggesting that changes that are a result of the pandemic are because of policies in my office or broader criminal justice for form. >> you are a fighter, you have had to fight to win an election before. this is not new to you. do you find yourself feeling a sense of exhilaration at this point? or do you feel some frustration creeping in? how are you managing? >> we have 18 days to go here, around our house we listen to and sing the wheels on the bus
an awful lot. it is my son's favorite. and that is one of the only songs i can carry. but yes, i am a fighter, i am never going to give up on doing what is right for san francisco. >> thank you for your time. >> now, a special kqed investigation into extremism in california. last year, when authorities charged more than 700 people involved in the attack on the capitol, 40 were from california. many of them are alleged to hold antigovernment or other extreme ideologies. from what our reporters found, those a■re not isolated ases. here in northern california, two men are in federal custody on charges of conspiracy to blow up california's democratic headquarters. what fueled their plot? who were they? and how widespread is this problem? julie small covers criminal justice and alex hall covers a
central valley, they are the reporters who dove into this story and join me now. i am fascinated by your investigation on this story. her work and reporting. kick us off, how did this all get started? >> one of the really interesting things is that it started in napa, the city of napa and california's wine country. ian rogers, he owned a british auto repair shop, he was an upstanding member of the community. he had a mechanic named jared copeland, they became friends and after jared left his employer, they would work out together, they liked shooting guns together, they also both supported trump and they became very upset when trump lost the election in 2020. but they weren't part of the group that went to washington, d.c. and participated in the insurrection. so around the time that joe
biden was declared winner of the election, rogers and copeland started sending each other messages, encrypted messages about their outrage at the outcome, just their outrage in general at democrats and at the left. and they decided to do something about it. they decided to take action. first, they decided that they were going to plan an attack on the governor's mansion in sacramento, but they quickly pivoted to making a plan around either burning down or creating some other violent attack around the california democratic party headquarters in sacramento. then over the course of a few weeks, they went about discussing how exactly they would do that. >> you actually have the text messages that they send to each other as part of these records. we have pulled a couple of those sections and would love for you to to share with us
what some of those spots were. julie, you focused on rogers. alex, you focused on copeland. if you wouldn't mind reaching each of their words. >> roger touched -- texted copeland, can you imagine cnn covering this? basically saying we declare war on the democratic party and all traitors to the republic. >> copeland replied, that is some expendable stuff. >> been in another text message exchange, it sounds like they were really seriously willing to sacrifice for this lot that they were putting together. >> that's right, rogers texted copeland and asked if he was ready to leave his wife. he said, what i am talking about, we will die unfortunately. >> copeland references his wife and says, she was crying yesterday and said to me please don't leave me. i don't know what i would do without you. she was rubbing my back.
she knows i will run and put myself in harm's way for what i believe in. >> these are just words, they are text messages, they are not actions. and these men did not actually bomb the democratic party headquarters. they were talking about it. and their friends and family say they were just drunk, these are just messages they were sending being macho. they didn't really mean this. tell me about your work on the ground, talking with the friends and family. >> one of the first people i talked to was ian rogers wife, she lives in napa and i knocked on her door, she was willing to talk to me. she said if i read all the things that people wrote about my husband, i would be scared of this man but i'm not because i know who he is. he was never going to do it. he had a lot of guns but that was his hobby. he has been collecting them for 20 years. and this was just like some
drunken text he sent to his friend. >> it was challenging to find people who not only know rogers and copeland but would be willing to talk to us. obviously it is a politically sensitive case and story. i was able to find . copeland's cousin in mayfield, where he is front. jared had liked his landscaping business book page, so i called him up and he was forthcoming, said that jerry told family was completely shocked at the charges. that growing up, jared was not the kind that was out roughhousing, fishing, hunting, it just wasn't his personality. he even said i don't think he has even had a speeding ticket.
>> these two were part of a militia organization, belying the words of these others. >> they join something called three united patriots, the california offshoot of the 3% movement. they believe that during the american revolution, it was 3% of the population that actually defeated the british. that's been proven to be false. that is not a true claim. but the point is they see themselves as the ones that will stand up for the country, defend the country against invasion or maybe a stolen election. because many did believe that the election was stolen. >> was any of this behavior illegal? it seems like there is at least enough cause for the fbi to think so because they have been charged. >> the way that the fbi explained it is you are allowed to believe whatever you want to
believe. membership in a group by itself is not grounds for investigation by the fbi. because the first amendment protects anyone's right to basically express outrage or dissatisfaction with political parties, et cetera. the way that they go about investigating is they basically have to identify an individual who is on the pathway towards planning an attack and violates federal law on that pathway. and so, the charges against rogers and copeland are not that they were a member of a group, it is what they did that violated federal law while they were making those claims. >> there was a term i heard you use, left of boom which i think is interesting. that you want to catch people before that action. >> that is how the fbi explained it to us, in the absence of domestic terrorism, basically you've got on a
timeline from an individual who is planning to launch an attack even from left to right with right at the end being this attack but they are planning to carry out. they want to intercept and prevent that individual from moving all the way to boom on the right side. >> that is what may have happened here. tell us him a julie, how the fbi ended up deciding to make this arrest. >> i don't know the full story of how they made the decision, that i do know that they were tipped off by somebody who knew ian rogers and had become very concerned about his behavior. he sent the f an envelope full of evidence, screenshots and a statement that said this man is armed to the teeth, he is enraged, he is threatening to kill somebody, and you should please arrest this maniac now. it took several months after that for them to actually make an arrest. but that was the beginning.
>> what did the authorities find? >> in rogers case, they went to his business and they found a safe in the auto repair shop that had five pipe bombs, guns, machine guns, also several books about how to make homemade explosives. paraphernalia, a flag, they went to his house and found more guns. by the end of the day, they had found 50 guns, many of which were illegal to own in california. such as machine guns. and also guns that had been illegally modified. >> this is not just a problem in terms of the concept of domestic terrorism, it is on the rise across the nation. and here in california. this is something you spoke with a special agent who was involved in this case from the san francisco office about, john blair. we want to play a soundbite from your interview with him.
>> there is an increase in both the level of violence and the number of individual actors since the suit summer. what are we paying the closest attention to? antigovernment extremism is our highest threat, followed by racially motivated violent extremists. >> what can you add what we are hearing about this growth in these sorts of problems? cmac just a little over a year since the january 6th capitol insurrection. the caseload of investigations related to violent domestic extremists has more than doubled since the spring of 2020. the number of individuals who are involved, perpetrators of this kind of suspected behavior. and also the level of violence.
basically the department of justice said that they announced they are going to create a special unit to prosecute cases just like this one. >> because of this increase. here in california, we have 45 groups that are antigovernment as well. >> that's right, according to the southern poverty law center. four of them are malicious. >> the two men in federal custody now, what is expected to happen next with them? >> right now, rogers is facing charges in both federal and state court. so his attorney is trying to get a plea deal where he gets one sentence, not two. that is very much up in the air. he is negotiating.
>> a newly formed reporting task force here at kqed. can you tell us about your mission? >> julie and i are kind of taking a step back and looking at the uptick in domestic violent extremists not only in the u.s. but specifically here in california. what motivates them? who influenced them and who do they influence? when we started working, we knew a little bit of the news of just the arrests and the charges against them but there wasn't a lot of information out about how they met, why, how they came up with this plan and what the back story was. that's what we want to dive into, understanding more about just the players and the consequences. >> thank you for your reporting on this. we look forward to talking to you in the future. this week's something beautiful is a look at san jose
i love how there are so many different kinds of images. it is supposed to be a beautiful weekend, take yourself for a stroll and check it out. you can find kqed to newsroom online or on twitter. you can reach me on social media. thank you for joining us, we will see you right back here next friday night. have a great weekend.
yamiche: tragedy in buffalo. and the midterm state of play. >> shot my mom once. my mom was laying on the ground. he wept and -- went and reloaded. and he shot my mom again. yamiche: in buffalo, black men and women murdered at the hands of a racist alleged gunman. anguish for the lives lost as the country mourns yet another mass shooting. pres. biden: what happened here is simple and straightforward. terrorism. terrorism. domestic terrorism. yamiche: but the path ahead for addressing gun violence and racist ideologies once again remains unclear. plus -- >> what else did you expect? everything about this