A 19-year-old San Francisco man has been charged in the death of a popular baker who was dragged by a getaway car chasing after armed robbers — and the woke activist’s family has urged authorities not to jail her two assailants because it goes against her social justice beliefs.
Ishmael Burch was charged June 5 by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland on suspicion of felony murder with robbery enhancements in the slaying of Jen Angel, owner of Angel Cakes, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
The suspect was first taken into custody in San Francisco on June 2 on battery charges.
Police confirmed Saturday that Burch was charged in connection with the Feb. 6 death of Angel, 48, who was robbed by two thieves who smashed her car window on Webster Street in Oakland and made off with her purse.
She chased after their getaway car, but got caught in the vehicle’s door and was dragged more the 50 feet, smashing her head on the sidewalk. She was put in a medically induced coma and later declared dead.
“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 loved ones wrote on a GoFundMe page after the brutal crime.
Her family is “committed to pursuing all available alternatives to traditional prosecution, such as restorative justice,” the post said.
“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.
In the wake of Burch’s arrest, Angel’s friends and family reiterated her “commitment to restorative and transformative justice.”
“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, the Mercury News reported.
“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,” it says.
“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.”
Emily Harris, an anti-prison director and one of Angel’s friends, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that the baker was her first political mentor and believed that using prison to punish people prevented both victims and criminals from actually healing.
Locking up those responsible for Angel’s death would only “perpetuate more harm,” Harris told the paper.
“That doesn’t mean that there isn’t accountability that we would want for (the perpetrators),” she said. “What (that) could look like isn’t about putting a person into further harm … (but) understanding how we’re going to prevent this from happening to the next Jen Angel.”