The protests that followed the death of George Floyd have gone well beyond just an expression of anger. Black Lives Matter, the movement that has become synonymous with the nation-wide demonstrations, has been demanding a radical change in not just the current system of governance but also the understanding of American history.
Now, the growing clout of this movement is adversely affecting not just people supposedly in possession of 'white privilege' but also leading members of the African-American society who are regarded as complicit in the system considered antithetical to their race.
One of the high-profile targets from this group is Los Angeles County's first black District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Interestingly, she has been the target of protesters for around three years. But post-George Floyd incident, these protests have grown from involving double-digit participants to thousands.
Lacey's alleged fault
The reason for anger against Lacey is the fact that during her tenure as DA, which has been around eight years, 340 people have been killed through police action in her area of jurisdiction. But barring one such incident, she has refused to prosecute the law-enforcement officers involved, either due to lack of evidence or clear validity, as per her understanding, of the police action.
The person who has been gunning for her in the last three years and leading the protests is Melina Abdullah, also co-founder of Black Lives Matter's LA chapter. Now bolstered by a huge swell in the number of demonstrators, she has led them to the courthouses in the county and in chanting slogans such as "Jackie Lacey must go."
Clouds over re-election prospects
The timing of the protests is especially crucial as Lacey would be looking to win a third term as DA in November. She happens to be not just the first African-American to occupy this office but also the first woman.
Her re-election came very close to being achieved in the primaries itself that were held in March. However, she fell just short of the mark and therefore will have to fight her way through another contest in a few months. Her rival is Los Angeles' former police commander and former District Attorney of San Francisco George Gascon.
The latter is positioning himself as a reformer and was quick in issuing a condemnation of police action that resulted in Floyd's death. Lacey, on the other hand, took six days to do the same.
Another problem facing the incumbent is the charge that her allegedly lackadaisical approach in prosecuting errant police officers is the result of her having benefitted financially from organisations supporting police and other law-enforcement agencies.
The stage is set for a close fight. Whether Lacey regains her position could also be a gauge of how deeply Black Lives Matter has been able to substantially shift public opinion. If she wins, it would suggest that the current protests have only vocalized an already discontented section of the society. A loss for her could be a harbinger of a tectonic shift in American politics.