The killing of Kevin Nishita, a security guard who died protecting a TV camera for San Francisco’s KRON4, deserves more of a remembrance than the meaningless condolence tweets of Bay area journalists. The former police officer left behind a wife, two children, and three grandchildren. The tweets won’t fill the void in the lives of the loved ones Nishita left behind.
It was news to me that crime in the Bay area has become so bad that local television reporters routinely require an armed security guard to accompany them on assignments. The corporate media is rife with journalists and advocates calling for the defunding of the police, so it’s noteworthy that local television stations in San Francisco and possibly other cities pay for added security to protect their staff and equipment. Most people who live in Oakland and other crime-ridden Bay areas can’t afford that luxury.
According to KRON’s report, a news crew was covering a story about a robbery last Wednesday where 12 thieves wearing masks and hoods raided a local Oakland clothing story. At approximately 12:20 p.m., an assailant attempted to steal KRON4’s camera equipment. Nishita was shot in the abdomen, presumably trying to stop the theft. The reporter was unharmed, and the robbery was prevented.
Unfortunately, Nishita died from his wounds this past weekend.
A $32,500 reward is being offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction of Nishita’s murderer. I’m guessing that’s significantly more than the cost of the KRON camera equipment that Nishita gave his life for.
Had Nishita fired his gun and killed his assailant, he would likely have sparked a national uproar if his victim was Black. Killing someone for robbing a TV camera would be deemed an outrageous example of excessive force. A person dying to protect a TV camera isn’t worthy of the same outrage.
The Bay area has become a hellscape, a case study on how the tolerance of petty crime and public drug abuse eventually morphs into more brazen and deadly crimes. In recent weeks, there have been a spate of so-called “smash-and-grab” robberies where organized gangs break the windows of department and luxury goods stores and help themselves to all the merchandise they can carry. San Francisco Police Chief said at a recent news conference that some of the people suspected of the thefts “are familiar to us.”
A likely reason for the familiarity is California’s Proposition 47, which made thefts under $950 a misdemeanor. Police departments in San Francisco, Oakland, and other major California cities don’t have the time or resources to aggressively pursue misdemeanor charges, particularly since the thieves will be back on the streets within a matter of hours.
The thieves have a friend in high places. His name is Chesa Boudin, and he’s San Francisco’s district attorney. Boudin was elected in 2019 on a platform that argued crime was caused by poverty, wealth inequality and inadequate government-funded social programs. Boudin called prostitution, open drug use and drug dealing “victimless crimes” and promised not to prosecute them.
According to statistics cited in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, the charging rate for theft by Boudin’s office declined from 62 percent in 2019 to 46 percent in 2021; for petty theft it fell from 58 percent to 35 percent. San Francisco’s jail population has plummeted to 766 in 2021 from 2,850 in 2019. More than half of all offenders, and three-quarters of the most violent ones, who are released from jail before trial commit new crimes.
Oakland is a particularly violent city and has been for years. The city this year has so far experienced about 120 murders and 550 shootings. A former Detroit News colleague, Chauncey Bailey, was gunned down on an Oakland street in 2007 while investigating a local crime syndicate. The Oakland police stopped taking written reports for thefts nearly a decade ago.
Not surprisingly, Bay area stores are either closing outlets or ramping up security because of pervasive crime. Walgreens, whose drug stores were once ubiquitous in San Francisco, has closed more than a dozen stores in recent years because of pervasive theft, including the one I frequented when I lived in the city. Boutique stores like b8ta are spending more than 30,000 on cameras and security to remain open.
“It can be daunting and overwhelming if you try to calculate what you have to sell to make that worthwhile,” the general manager of one b8ta location told the San Francisco ABC affiliate. The manager earlier this year was robbed at gun point after a thief entered the store on a scooter and stuffed several high-ticket devices into a messenger bag.
The manager insisted that safety for his store’s workers and customers come first … profits, later.
It’s sad that KRON4’s management doesn’t place a premium on the safety of its security vendors over profits. The station’s TV camera, whatever the cost, wasn’t worth Nishita losing his life over. Losing merchandise to thieves should be deemed the cost of doing journalism business in San Francisco – – the way it is for other area businesses.
One thing is certain: KRON isn’t paying top dollar to attract polished on-air talent. Watch this KRON video disclosing Nishita’s passing. I’ve never seen such amateurish TV journalism in a major market, or for that matter, in small towns.