New York Times magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for a discredited commentary on America’s founding , declared in June that destruction of property isn’t violence. “We need to be very careful with our language,” Hannah-Jones said in an interview. “Yes, it is disturbing to see property being destroyed, it’s disturbing to see people taking property from stores, but these are things.”
Yet, when a reportedly disturbed individual recently tried scaling the headquarters building of the Times, the publication’s woke journalists didn’t protest that their company called the police to arrest the person, rather than a social worker to talk him down. Apparently, one’s liberal views about building violence dissipates if one happens to occupy the structure.
My west Los Angeles neighborhood is seemingly filled with legions of Hannah-Jones types. The area is rife with lawn signs declaring support for the Black Lives Matters movement and other liberal causes. In 2016, and again in this election year, I’ve yet to see even one Trump/Pence sign. Indeed, someone walking in my hood with a Trump MAGA hat would encounter some nasty confrontations, likely violence if they crossed paths with the rabid anti-Trumper who frequents my local Starbucks
My neighbors talk the liberal talk, but they don’t walk the liberal walk, at least when their homes and cars are broken into. Ring, the Amazon-owned video doorbell is extremely popular here, and there’s a function where residents can share captured images of people breaking into their homes and cars. I’m inundated with these videos, and I’m taken aback by the accompanying messages. They are often laced with derogatory words like “creep,” and there have been some instances where people note the race of their intruders, which is apparent from the images.
People sharing these messages are understandably angry. Having been victim to a home break in, they have my sympathy. But there is a mischievous side of me that wants to flaunt my wokeness and respond with a Joe Biden-tinged message: “C’mon man, the thief who stole your Prius catalytic converter probably needs the part more than you do. Get over your white privilege!”
Property crime is endemic in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other California cities and its readily understandable why local police forces are disinclined to do anything about it. The culprit was Proposition 47, a 2014 bill which made the theft of property below $950 a misdemeanor. It’s not clear to me whether the $950 limit is the full retail price or the black-market price. A new catalytic converter from a Toyota dealer costs about $1,800. The thief who stole one will gladly sell it back to the rightful owner for $300, maybe less if the victim is a good negotiator.
My house was broken into a few years ago. It was very unsettling coming home one night and finding my side door window smashed. I probably will forever have a queasy feeling every time I pull into my driveway. I got off lucky because the glass was double-paned, and the intruders seemed to have lost interest trying to penetrate both layers with a blunt device. My security camera captured the crime – three youths wearing hoodies. Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t one of them.
The L.A. police were great – when they finally showed up more than three hours later. You see, L.A.’s finest are stretched pretty thin compared to other cities. The ratio of police officers for every 10,000 Angelenos is 25.7. That compares to a ratio of 41.8 in New York, 41.6 in Boston, and 46.7 in Newark.
As the damage to my door exceeded $1,000, the intruders faced prosecution. To my surprise, the police sent someone the following day to take fingerprints, and they quickly found a match. One of the youths was tried and convicted, and I received notice that his family was ordered to make restitution for the damages to my door. I subsequently received another notice that his parents didn’t have the means to reimburse me.
One possible way to reduce property crime would be to set up a Neighborhood Watch group. Heck if I’d participate in this climate. If I saw three youths in hoodies smashing the window of the house next door, I’d think twice before calling the police for fear of being labeled a Karen or Ken if I was mistaken. Maybe my neighbors moved away without telling me and the youths simply got locked out of their new home. As Nikole Hannah-Jones would say, even if the youths were robbing the house, they were only helping themselves to “things.”
Residents of nearby Beverly Hills, a neighborhood considerably wealthier than mine, are leaning to a more vigilante approach to combating property crime. They recently held a Zoom meeting with the police to learn how prepared the force was to deal with civil unrest in the wake of a contentious election.
“If I buy a gun can I get training from the police department?” one resident asked. Seems Beverly Hills locals are a tad edgy because of “peaceful” protests in their city four months ago that destroyed businesses on upscale Rodeo drive and left city landmarks tagged with graffiti saying, “eat the rich.”
L.A. will soon become another San Francisco, where shoplifting has become so pervasive the Walgreens, which seemingly had a store on every block when I lived there, has been increasingly forced to close stores because homeless thieves routinely come in and ransack shelves in broad daylight.
“I feel sorry for the clerks, they are regularly being verbally assaulted,” a Walgreens customer told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The clerks say there is nothing they can do. They say Walgreens’ policy is to not get involved. They don’t want anyone getting injured or getting sued, so the guys just keep coming in and taking whatever they want.”
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed solution to deal with the city’s growing crime? Defund the police.
And to think Garcetti was a Rhodes scholar.