Family of Oakland Baker Who Was Dragged to Her Death Urge Prosecutors Not to Jail Her 19-Year-Old Suspected Killer
Andrea Cavallier, Daily Mail, June 27, 2023
The family of an Oakland baker who was dragged to her death by a getaway car during a purse snatching is calling for no jail time for the suspect because it ‘goes against her social justice beliefs.’
Ishmael Burch, 19, was taken into custody earlier this month on charges in connection to the February 6 death of Jen Angel, 48, who was robbed by two thieves while she was sitting in her car in the downtown area of the city.
Burch was allegedly driving the getaway car as a second person smashed Angel’s car window and grabbed her purse. She tried to chase down the car, but got caught in the door and was dragged 50ft down the street. She died two days later.
Angel’s loved ones said in a statement shortly after her death that she was a ‘social justice activist’ who ‘did not believe in state violence, carceral punishment, or incarceration as an effective or just solution to social violence and inequity.’
Their statement was reiterated in the wake of Burch’s arrest as they urged prosecutors not to jail the suspect. He is currently being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail and is set to appear in court on July 14.
The purse snatching happened around 12:30 p.m. on February 6 in the parking lot on Wells Fargo Bank in Oakland. Burch, of San Francisco, was identified as the driver of the getaway car through cell phone data and surveillance footage, according to Mercury News.
He was first taken into custody on June 2 on battery charges and then charged on June 5 by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland on suspicion of felony murder with robbery enhancements.
Angel, who opened her famed Oakland cupcake shop ‘Angel Cakes’ in 2008, was a longtime community activist who did not believe in incarceration.
She founded founded Aid and Abet, a social-justice event-production platform that served dozens of nonprofits and activist groups, and co-founded magazine Clamor.
Angel’s close friend Moira Birss told KUTV that her friend strongly disagreed with the current criminal justice system, and would not want her alleged killer to go to prison.
‘Hopefully…we’re not defined by the worst thing we’ve ever done, and that the possibility for redemption and for her healing and care for each other and mutual support is really, was really, important to Jen,’ Birss said.
In response to Burch’s arrest, her loved ones released a statement reiterating Angel’s beliefs as they called for ‘all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice.’
‘Because the State has discretion in charging and sentencing, we know that Jen would want the DA to work towards generating true accountability and healing. Jen believed that extreme sentencing is not a pathway to true justice,’ the statement read.
In the original statement made just after Angel’s death, her family detailed her beliefs in a post on her GoFundMe page.
‘As a long-time social movement activist and anarchist, Jen did not believe in state violence, carceral punishment or incarceration as an effective or just solution to social violence and inequity.’
‘Her family is ‘committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice.
‘We know Jen would not want to continue the cycle of harm by bringing state-sanctioned violence to those involved in her death or to other members of Oakland’s rich community,’ the family added.
‘The community that Jen built and surrounded herself with was vast. The group of us working to carry out her wishes reflect a variety of life experiences. Some of us share Jen’s political beliefs and ideals. Some of us are newer to alternatives to the status quo,’ the statement reads.
‘Others of us may make very different decisions on our own behalf than what Jen believed in. Among all of us, no matter where we stand individually, collectively we are committed to ensuring that harm is not done in Jen’s name. We are committed to working together to uphold the values Jen lived for.’
‘Jen lived her full and vibrant life with the understanding that the potential for a healthy and just society depends on replacing racist and violent institutions like policing, jails, and prisons with models of public safety that actually keep everyone safe,’ it continues.
‘This case is an opportunity for Alameda County to not only honor the wishes of Jen and her loved ones, but also to model a framework that seeks to address the root causes of harmful behavior and find meaningful ways to ensure true justice in our communities.’
The family’s call for no jail time comes just months after Oakland’s new District Attorney, Pamela Price, said in a memo that she hoped to bring back balanced sentencing and subsequently reduce reoffending, according to the Berkley Scanner.
The directive also said that probation shall be the ‘presumptive offer’ during plea negotiations, and that low-end prison terms should be offered in cases that aren’t eligible for probation.
The policy allows for exceptions in ‘extraordinary’ circumstances, including human trafficking, hate crimes, child or elder abuse and crimes that cause ‘extensive’ physical injury.
But will require prosecutors to obtain supervisory approval before moving forward with enhancements to any new case or plea deal, the memo stated.
It comes as the first major policy shift proposed by Price.