Gonzalez, in red tie, shown with Rev. Bernard, far right, and next to his wife, Dagmar. Bertha Lewis, is left. The DA’s son were also at hand.
The Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has been backed by Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center and social justice leader Bertha Lewis, founder of the Black Institute in the upcoming election.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s race is the most hotly contested race in the city this summer. Candidates are vying for support in communities with high concentrations of Democratic voters and the Rev. Bernard and Ms. Lewis’s support was highly sought after by other candidates. “I am supporting Eric for district attorney because he knows that we can keep our communities’ safe, all while protecting civil rights and promoting social justice,” said Rev. Bernard. “We need someone with his record of experience and commitment of reform to continue to move Brooklyn forward.”
The Christian Cultural Center boasts one of the largest congregations in the city. With more than 40,000 members, the Rev. Bernard is an influential pastor and persuasive nationally leader. “Eric knows that we keep Brooklyn safe by being smart on crime, and offering drug treatment and diversionary programs to low-level offenders, rather than just locking them up,” said Lewis, an early supporter for Ken Thompson in 2013. “Eric is Brooklyn through and through. He has devoted his life to keeping Brooklyn safe while reforming the criminal justice system and ensuring equal justice for every Brooklynite. He deserves the next four years to continue this important work.”
Bertha Lewis was a founding co-chair of the influential Working Families Party – also an endorser of Gonzalez – and is highly respected and considered one of the most creative and visionary people in progressive circles.
Since serving as Acting District Attorney, among the many new policies Gonzalez implemented was a new immigration policy that seeks equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents, including the foreign-born. Gonzalez hired full-time immigration lawyers to work with the assistant district attorneys to evaluate the unintended consequences of a plea, and train them to try to avoid giving someone the conviction that will get them deported.
Gonzalez also developed the Young Adult Court, a ground-breaking initiative that handles cases of young people up to the age of 24 who are too old to be treated as juveniles, but who research tells us are like juveniles in important ways. The Young Adult Court offers these young adults a wide array of services and alternative sentences based on their needs. This allows them to keep a clean record and on a better path. This approach, Gonzalez says, also improves public safety in the long run by strengthening community relations.
“I am so thankful to Rev. Bernard and Bertha Lewis for being here with me today and their endorsement,” Gonzalez said. “Brooklyn is safer today than it has ever been. We’ve also made it fairer. I’m a child of Brooklyn and I know what is possible. I am asking for everyone’s support in this race because I know that public safety can go hand-in-hand with civil rights, social justice, and critical reforms to our criminal justice system.”
Gonzalez is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn. He was raised by a single mother for most of his youth, living first in Williamsburg. During the 1980’s, his family moved to East New York during the height of the city’s crack epidemic. Gonzalez is a graduate of John Dewey High School in Coney Island, Cornell University and the University of Michigan Law School where he was president of the Latino Law Student Association. He is married to his wife, Dagmar, and they have three sons.