San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has formed a new environmental justice unit to tackle a form of crime that disproportionately affects the city’s poorest communities, reports the city’s Chronicle. With two attorneys and an investigator, the unit will address such cases as a community newspaper’s alleged dumping of hundreds of gallons of printer’s ink, black marketeers’ abalone sales and a bakery that operated while littered with rat and bird droppings.
“Crimes against the environment are crimes against communities, people who are often poor and disenfranchised,” said Harris. A spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said state and local law enforcement are being forced to take up environmental law enforcement that used to be handled by federal authorities. A spokesman said local and state environmental criminal prosecutions are necessary because the Bush administration is “focused on rolling back the protections that we’ve fought for.”