African-American lawyers, racial justice groups and hedge fund billionaire George Soros are combining forces to elect more black prosecutors in response to what they see as an insufficient response by district attorneys to the killings of black people by the police, the New York Times reports. The effort faces steep demographic and institutional obstacles that have kept the offices of elected prosecutors among the whitest reserves in American politics. Only a few dozen of more than 2,300 elected prosecutors nationwide are African American. The National Black Prosecutors Association, with 400 members, can point to only about a dozen who were elected.
That number has begun to grow, with activists and lawyers recruiting black candidates while outside groups, largely financed by Soros, hire political consultants to produce slick campaign ads. The candidates and their allies often overwhelm white candidates, some of whom complain that they were targeted merely because of their race. Since last year, the effort has produced two black district attorneys in rural Mississippi and one in Caddo Parish, La., which is known as the nation’s leading jurisdiction for death sentences. On Tuesday, blacks are expected to cruise to election as the top local prosecutors in Chicago, St. Louis, Orlando, and suburban Henry County, Ga. “In many ways, it is just as important as the governor’s race or the presidential race,” said Benjamin Crump, a Tallahassee, Fl., lawyer involved in the push, who has represented families of victims in some of the most highly publicized killings of African Americans, beginning with the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012.