Not all political opinions are as black-and-white as, say, taxation, housing and abortion.
Amid renewed discussions of reimagining the criminal justice system, how should district attorneys—who have the unique power to file charges—balance punishing convicted rapists, honoring survivors’ trauma and avoiding perpetuation of violence through incarceration?
DA candidate Sajid Khan abruptly ran head-first into that question—and charges of virtue signaling—after attending an Aug. 10 rally hosted by From Survivors For Survivors in Los Gatos.
Khan, who works for the county as a public defender, briefly exchanged pleasantries and took a photo with 18-year-old Sasha Ryu, an event organizer and FSFS president. In a Twitter thread about the event the next day, Khan shared the photo with Ryu and explained that he was there to listen and learn, standing in solidarity with survivors to achieve accountability and services to heal.
Survivors not only suffer the unspeakable, lifelong scars of the sexual violence inflicted upon them, but also endure secondary trauma from the negligent, disrespectful, and ineffective systemic responses that our school systems, law enforcement and legal system provide.
— Sajid A. Khan (@thesajidakhan) August 11, 2021
However, Khan failed to disclose to Ryu that he previously defended Stanford student Brock Turner’s “lenient” sentence in June 2016, arguing the 20-year-old student athlete's otherwise clean criminal history should have qualified for probation (and empathy) over prison. Khan says he continues to push against the idea that justice is defined through jail time, which systematically and disproportionately harms and exploits people of color.
Yet, Ryu says she feels used by Khan—a political prop. She told Fly reading his out-of-touch post felt like "a complete slap in the face,” adding that Khan's attempt to explain what survivors “want” runs counter to Chanel Miller’s personal feelings on Turner’s sentencing, which are laid out in her 12-page victim impact statement.
The original tweet and photo has since been deleted, but the full dialogue remains public on social media for readers to read and chime in. This debate won’t be going away any time soon.