San Luis Obispo County’s District Attorney Dan Dow responded on Oct. 19 to an open letter sent by San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, refuting claims Harmon made about him.
On Oct. 17, Harmon sent an open letter to her campaign constituents addressing the recent arrest of three Black Lives Matter activists. In the letter, she condemned the actions of Dow, calling the charges an “intimidation tactic,” as she wrote it threatens people with the possibility of arrest for exercising their first amendment rights.
“Of the hundreds of people who protested peacefully, the district attorney has singled out these three Black men — leaders in our communities — from the mostly white crowd,” Harmon wrote. “These men have worked to bring a voice to our Black and Brown communities of San Luis Obispo. If Dan Dow gets his way, their activism this election will result in a prison sentence.”
Before the letter was emailed, Dow charged two more protesters for their participation in the July 21 protest. Both protesters are white.
Harmon also wrote that this is a political move by Dow, as the charges against Amman Asfaw came after he participated in a campaign video for Harmon.
“Arresting people who are campaigning for your political opponents is a well recognized form of voter suppression,” Harmon wrote in the letter. “And Dan Dow knows his political playbook.”
Dow responded in his statement by saying that Harmon’s letter was a “political campaign stunt” and included false allegations. He wrote that her rhetoric was “dangerous and divisive” and perpetuates unrest in the county.
Dow wrote that it is his duty to investigate and determine whether a crime is committed, and he wrote he habitually does that without consideration of characteristics such as race.
In his statement, Dow confirmed that he stands behind these charges and is proud of the work his office does to “protect the people of [San Luis Obispo] county through aggressive and fair prosecution of crime and protecting the rights of crime victims.”
“I will never compromise the integrity of this office by using race or public opinion to decide whether or not to file a criminal charge,” Dow wrote in his statement. “My decisions will always be based on the evidence and the law.”