Here’s an anecdote from the 1980s. My family drove to San Francisco to visit friends. We parked across the street from said friends house, and while exchanging greetings on the front steps, we hear the sound of breaking glass. We turn to see a perpetrator execute a smash-and-grab of my mothers purse from the back seat of our car which, being a country bumpkin from Mendocino County, she left in plain view. Police were alerted, and a description given: “oh yeah we know exactly who he is. He’s been working this neighborhood for a month.”
Two weeks later my parents get a call from SFPD. They have him in custody. Could you return to San Francisco to identify him? It’s very important we have an eyewitness. We need to put him away. We can pay your mileage costs.
My parents demur. It’s a long drive. Besides, it was only $20. (Plus the window, of course, which they never fixed). Also, he was (sotto voce) black, putting them in rather a tight spot politically.
So no burdensome police lineup for my feckless parents ensconced in their rural splendor with Third Reich demographics, $400/year property tax and robbery rate of .001%. From their hippie shire they eagerly voted for the lefty-ist candidates on the ballot, every time, and still do (except for Prop. 13 repeal).
But it was to be another decade of smash and grab for urban people, liberals included, until they voted for the restoration of order. For broken windows policing. For Three Strikes laws. For Anti-Gang injunctions. For prosecution of petty theft. Leading the charge: middle-class black folk.
It was such a resounding success in achieving its policy goals Broken Windows was unassailable for twenty years. You could not run against it. Not in New York, not in L.A or anywhere between. In the early 1990s you couldn’t sell a house South of the 10. Now they go in multiple offers.
For how much longer?
As self-parody it would be difficult to improve upon this. Kate Chatfield works in the SF District Attorney’s office under Chesa Boudin. Before Chesa was installed by George Soros, friend of the looter, Kate made a living suing police departments. Now on the other side of the table, she declines to prosecute “crime” and likens victims to the KKK.
They used to get it, even in SF. An ignored $20 purse snatch becomes a series of snatches and doesn’t stay a $20 problem for long. What happens to a city when ten people enter a store and each steal $950 worth of goods, in plain view of security, who are told to stand down for fear of lawsuits/bad press and who could be punched with impunity by the thieves since simple assault is no longer prosecuted? How long can stores remain open?
If you think this is only a question of property crime and hoping we can just eat the cost somehow in higher prices and ride it out, consider the above two minute cinema verite futurism.
Three hundred pounds, this guy. Multiple eyewitness. License plate. DNA. Coverage on local news. No arrest.
Wait, what? Back up.
Police never caught him. She was the third woman this criminal mastermind assaulted is as many days, all from his vehicle. A week later, his mother turned him in. How much shoe leather did they put in on this? I’m afraid to know the answer.
Maybe Kate Chatfield is telling on herself with the Birth of a Nation reference. That’s where this going, isn’t it? The logic of Critical Race Theory leads inevitably to the erosion of a rules based order, and a concomitant demand we make our skin color our uniform, all of us. Vigilante justice, the mirror image of looting, will be unavoidable.
But it won’t be white people, at least not in L.A. Their wealth discriminates, so they don’t have to. Those who aren’t wealthy enough for safety have decamped for the exurbs, or the red states, or are planning to do so. Or they are single and childless and renting and will simply pull up stakes when the cost/benefit calculus turns unfavorable.
No, the vigilantes will be the people who can’t back up. Who are rooted to mortgages, to brick and mortar employment, kinship networks and parental obligation. People who won’t go back to the old country. People who have ceded as much ground as they are going to and not an inch farther.
Latinos. Armenians. The people at Nolo’s Barbershop, where I get my haircuts. Men who shook their heads at the obsequious news coverage of the George Floyd trial and clucked and spoke freely and didn’t care who heard.
I’m an urban guy. I can abide a certain degree of day to day friction, but I don’t want to live in a Los Angeles without handcuffs, and I definitely don’t wish to stay in the version of Los Angeles that comes after.