Community remembers San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi

SAN FRANCISCO — Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s elected public defender since 2002, has died at the age of 59.

A preliminary autopsy indicates that Adachi suffered extensive heart disease.

On Wednesday evening, supporters marched from the public defender’s office to city hall.

To many, Adachi will be remembered as a warrior for poor and minority communities.

“He leaves a legacy that impacts every single person in the city and county of San Francisco. He has touched so many lives and he was really just a champion for immigrants, people with no voice, people who have been overlooked by society,” said Abigail Rivamonte Mesa.

Adachi was known as a watchdog for police misconduct — especially during the 2015 racist text scandal by San Francisco police officers, which included slurs against Filipinos.

Adachi was also known for pension and bail reform.

“So whoever is put in there, they’re going to have to be a beast like Jeff, you know what I mean? To be brave and have courage and go against the current because Jeff went against the police, you know what I mean? People don’t usually go against the police but he fought and stood up for the people.”

According to his colleagues and friends, Adachi was a supporter of the Filipino community.

“At the office he would throw events in celebration of Filipino-American history month and he was very much a strong advocate of the SoMa Pilipino Heritage District because that’s where the public defender’s office is and he would always paid deference to that and realize the impact Filipinos have in helping the community.” 

Whether for Filipinos or other minorities, Adachi’s legacy as a champion for their causes is undisputed, and those communities now await for a new hero to arise and fill the big shoes that Adachi left behind.

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