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District Attorney Pamela Price defends staffer's actions at contentious rally as "free speech"

DA Pamela Price says staff member won't face discipline after rally confrontation
DA Pamela Price says staff member won't face discipline after rally confrontation 02:55

Controversy surrounding a chaotic clash between supporters of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price supporters and those who want her recalled during a rally last weekend continued to unfold Tuesday.

The hectic scene unfolded in front of the courthouse in Oakland on Saturday as people on the two sides of the recall nearly came to blows. On Tuesday, the fallout over that contentious rally only grew as Price responded to a heated exchange caught on camera. 

Cell phone video recorded by one of her employees showed the individual taunting leaders of the recall campaign. Price said she sees it as an employee simply asserting his First Amendment rights to attend the rally since he wasn't on the clock at the time it happened.

"This is the gang mentality that's coming from Brenda Gruesome or Grisham," said Desmond Jeffries in a Facebook video posted from the rally. Jeffries is an employee in the Alameda County District Attorney's office. In the video he called SAFE co-founder Brenda Grisham, "Brenda Gruesome" at least half a dozen times. Jeffries also said crime victims' families were like a gang.

Jeffries is listed on the DA's website as the Director of Retention and Recruitment. Price said he is not bound by a code of ethics or conduct.

"We have a code of ethics for lawyers, but not for all employees," said Price at a press conference on Tuesday. She said what Jeffries does on his own time is his own business.

"Mr. Jeffries, to my understanding has not violated any county rules or procedures by what he did on Saturday," Price explained.

According the leaders of SAFE, the group trying to recall Pamela Price, when an employee of the DAs office is taunting the families of murder victims, that crosses the line.

"When you are doing things like this and directly attacking victims' families, it's totally wrong and it is not acceptable at all," said Carl Chan, one of the SAFE organizers. 

The SAFE leaders went as far as to write a letter to the DAs' office and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, demanding disciplinary action against Jeffries and calling for him to be fired.

"When you're working for this office, then you have the obligation to carry yourself in a high standard," said Chan. 

Price said on Tuesday that Jeffries won't be punished, and asserted that her office will not be implementing any code of conduct for employees.

"Mr. Jeffries is not facing any disciplinary action," Price said. "Mr. Jeffries, as far as I know, exercised his First Amendment rights on Saturday morning."

KPIX 5 reached out to Jeffries for comment on the video, but he had not responded at the time this story aired. 

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