John Hamasaki during a Police Commission meeting
John Hamasaki during a Police Commission meeting in February, 2022.

November’s ballot for San Francisco’s hotly contested District Attorney seat will have one more name on it: John Hamasaki, a criminal defense attorney and former police commissioner. 

Records show that the outspoken critic of San Francisco policing and, more recently, of interim-District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ first weeks in office, pulled paperwork this morning to run for the office. Jenkins was appointed to the District Attorney seat earlier this summer by Mayor London Breed after Chesa Boudin was ousted in a controversial recall. 

Hamasaki was well-known as an aggressive member of the police commission who harshly criticized the San Francisco Police Department and its union for the department’s racial disparities and recurring violence against civilians. 

He would spar publicly with the chief of police, and the commission often received calls for his removal, citing his controversial Twitter posts. Most recently, he spoke out against the chief’s decision to pull out of an agreement with the DA’s office to allow DA investigators to take the lead on police violence cases. 

Hamasaki decided not to make himself available for another term on the commission shortly after that disagreement, and stepped down in April, saying there was not enough will within the SFPD or on the commission to change the police department’s “culture of corruption and brutality.” His reappointment, however, was no sure thing.

The news that Hamasaki filed papers to run for the office this morning was met with support on Twitter from a progressive base that, until now, did not have a candidate to push forward progressive ideologies against Jenkins and another former police commissioner and DA candidate, Joe Alioto Veronese. 

Boudin ruffled feathers in San Francisco with his anti-carceral approach to prosecution and unprecedented determination to hold police criminally accountable for misconduct, and many who voted to recall him have rallied around Jenkins and her policies. Jenkins was a key member of the movement to recall Boudin. 

Just this week, Jenkins came under heightened scrutiny for the income she took home while campaigning for Boudin’s recall. She was reportedly paid six figures in six months for consulting work, and her pay came from a nonprofit — founded by a San Francisco billionaire and recall backer — that is not permitted to participate in political campaigns.

Boudin announced last week that he would not run for District Attorney in November against Jenkins.  

In the past two months, Hamasaki took to Twitter to join in, and often lead, the discourse about the new DA’s direction. He and other skeptics have closely watched Jenkins’ first moves in office as she has fired attorneys, rolled out apparently regressive “war-on-drugs” policies, and rolled back plea deals in favor of jail time for drug crimes, in an approach starkly different from that of her predecessor. 

In recent days, however, Hamasaki has scrubbed his Twitter posts back to February, apparently in preparation for much more public scrutiny. 

Hamasaki has not yet responded to a request for comment. This story will be updated if he does. 

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Paying the transaction fee is not required, but it directs more money in support of our mission.

Follow Us

REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim over eight years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

Join the Conversation

13 Comments

Please keep your comments short and civil. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. So far looking a Hamasakl as a potential for D.A.for San Francisco doesn’t look like Cc any where near
    the right choice.. Another staunch progressive ,,.do we really want to go backwards or go towards a solution ,and regain this cities dignity.

  2. thank you so much for this wonderful news, eleni.

    in this country, Black men are under attack by a repressive government that is systemically racist and builds wealth on the backs of Black bodies.

    instead of a return to “the war on drugs” and a carceral state, john hamasaki will work to address systemic racism, inequality and the root causes of crime.

    bravo john!

  3. Hamasaki is a Boudin acolyte. Will be interesting to see how much Soros money he attracts. Fentanyl dealers and chronic thieves must be overjoyed at his candidacy , as his electoral platform is essentially to decriminalize crime . Why did delete his tweets? What is he afraid of?

    1. Mr.Simpson I am in definite agreement with your statement.The drug dealers and other social misfits would love a D.A.like Hamasakl..we would be going backwards into a regressive so called progressive state of affairs.

  4. Oh great. Another criminal defense attorney for DA. Been there. Done that. And one that wants to arm teens.

  5. “In recent days, however, Hamasaki has scrubbed his Twitter posts back to February,”
    Yeah, that’s a sign of somebody who knows he’s nuts and has no business holding public office. February probably wasn’t far back enough, though.

  6. Campers,

    This guy is terrific.

    Middle aged Japanese lawyer who works his butt off and get’s to the core of things on every case.

    Police Commission was too small for him.

    I’ll make up a sign to carry for him when he officially pays the cash and raises his hand, Friday I’d guess.

    You want a serious contact high, go to the Board of Elections Office on last day to turn in papers and all that.

    You detractors please give any issue he was wrong on.

    Go Niners !!

    h.

    1. Ah, Hamasaki is a brilliant attorney who does indeed work his butt off. He reminds me of the Lincoln Lawyer, the movie with Matthew Modine or Better Call Paul, the show with Rob Okendirk. We need more people on the side of us, the people. Hamsaki is out there everyday, telling it like it is, telling kids to pack heat to protect themselves and making accusations against cops, both true and untrue, keeping them off guard and saving lives by telling police to run out into traffic. I’ll hold a sign for him in the middle of the ocean to convince aquatic life to vote for him

    2. h, you’re absolutely right. Hasamaki is a spitfire who’s methods are quite unorthodox and chaotic like a car crash in the middle of an earthquake inside a tornado, but at the end of the day, he gets the job done. He may tells his opponents off, he may encourages his enemies to jump into traffic, he may kicks pets out the window for pleasure, but at the end of the day, he gets the job done

  7. The progressive attack on San Francisco continues.

    Progressives have been telling us online, since we recalled their boy Boudin, that they hate the city and look forward to it failing. Now comes Hamasaki to try to ensure that happens.

  8. > In recent days, however, Hamasaki has scrubbed his Twitter posts back to February, apparently in preparation for much more public scrutiny.

    This was wise, Hamasaki is such a loon on Twitter, any of his tweets will put the lie to any claim he is not an extremist.

    If he is elected it will be a huge win for @ANTISFA_SF or their more left wing buddies @DSF_SF