Protests Continue in Fight to Recall Santa Clara County Judge in Brock Turner Case - NBC Bay Area
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Protests Continue in Fight to Recall Santa Clara County Judge in Brock Turner Case

In his own defense, Judge Aaron Persky created his own anti-recall website

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    Activists continue their efforts to recall Judge Aaron Persky who handed convicted sex offender Brock Turner what they said was a lenient sentence. Michelle Roberts reports. (Published Friday, Sept. 2, 2016)

    Hours after convicted sex offender Brock Turner was released from the Santa Clara County jail after serving half a six-month sentence on Friday, activists continued their efforts to recall the judge who handed him what they said was a lenient sentence for a Stanford-educated, white man.

    The protest outside the San Jose jail was organized by the Recall Judge Aaron Persky Campaign, whose members have been vocal and active in trying to get the Santa Clara County Superior Court judge off the bench.

    "Hey, hey, Judge Persky has got to go!" protesters chanted.

    Among those calling for a recall were a handful of state and federal legislators.

    "Are you ready to give Judge Persky the early release that he deserves?" asked Congressman Eric Swalwell.

    "Yes!" came the resounding reply.

    Persky is "unfit to serve on the bench," stressed California's Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon.

    Protesters holding #20Minutes signs to recall Judge Aaron Persky outside main jail in San Jose where Brock Turner was released a few hours ago. (Sept. 2, 2016)
    Photo credit: Bob Redell/NBC Bay Area

    Last month, Persky voluntarily took himself off criminal trials, but still presides of civil cases.

    "I hope Judge Persky knows he is as much part of the problem as Brock Turner is," rape survivor Kamilah Willingham told the crowd. 

    Activists carried signs that read “Stop Judicial Bias” and #20Minutes, Protect Women, Recall Persky.” The signs referred to what Turner's father wrote the court saying just "20 minutes of action" should not justify a stint in jail.

    "He was never held accountable," said sexual assault survivor Sofie Karasek.

    Willingham agreed, saying, Turner "would have been punished more harshly if he had gotten drunk and got into a bar fight that night instead."

    A woman wearing a "Stanford Loves Rapists" shirt attends a San Jose rally to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky. (Sept. 2, 2016)
    Photo credit: Bob Redell/NBC Bay Area

    Many have pointed to white privilege in the case, especially taking aim at what Persky said at sentencing: That he chose to give Turner a six-month sentence because of the “severe impact” state prison would have on someone Turner’s age and lack of criminal past.

    While Stanford University student Stephanie Pham stressed the importance of taking "a stand against this extreme wrongdoing and show that rape will be seen as a crime from now on," Persky launched his own defense.

    The judge created his own anti-recall website, RetainJudgePersky.com, where he is soliciting donations to fight his recall.

    On it, Persky does not address the Turner case, but described himself as a fair man who has served the public for 20 years.

    “I believe strongly in judicial independence. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues. When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence,” the website says. “As a judge, I have heard thousands of cases. I have a reputation for being fair to both sides.”

    JJ Kap, an assistant public defender for Santa Clara County, sided with Persky.

    "He had ample reason to give the sentence that he did," he said. "The fact that some people don’t like it is not surprising, but certainly not a reason to have him recalled."

    Persky is not allowed to comment on the Turner case, as the Mercury News pointed out, because the case will be active until Turner serves three years on probation, starting with his Friday jail release.

    NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell contributed to this report.

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez