White Witch

She appeared without warning Thursday morning, like a grieving mother, standing vigil at the Ghost Bike corner. Six years ago, a man was killed on his bicycle at this intersection. It was unusual for a hit and run as it took place in a residential neighborhood at Christmastime. Due to quirks in the street grid, our little enclave is closed to thru traffic, which meant the driver likely either lived here or knew someone who did, and a local mystery was born.

Signs appeared, urging confession, an appeal to conscience, a whisper to authorities.  None came. After a year, the Ghost Bike was removed, and the baleful accusation went away with it.

We assumed the sudden arrival of the witch after so many years heralded a revival of interest in the case. Why else would she be there?  It turns out she was a harbinger of something altogether different.

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s and was greeted by this sign at the freeway offramp. I did some masonry work for a few hours, then poured a beer and settled in front of the TV for this:

The looters assembled at three historic civil rights locations: The Grove, Rodeo Drive, and Melrose Avenue.  Then they went shopping in full view of the police.  Beverly Hills didn’t let them in.  Nordstrom’s was briefly breached at the mall, but private security asserted order.

Melrose, on the other hand, is the City of Los Angeles.   Which means they could steal with impunity.  They started small, with the shoe stores.  Hand items, like sunglasses.  LAPD set up a block away and didn’t move in.   The local news stations circled overhead, beaming endless footage of mobs stepping across broken thresholds and scurrying out with all they could carry. The disembodied voice of Mayor Garcetti played host, murmuring concern as he called into each station to announce an 8 pm curfew the police had no intention of enforcing.   He didn’t dare show his face on TV, and the news anchors didn’t inconvenience him by asking what he intended to do about the breakdown in public order.

Properly incentivized in real-time, looters brazenly pulled up in cars.  They worked in teams.  They moved up to luxury items.  Finally, the Mac store was cleaned out completely while getaway drivers idled out front, trunks open and ready.  This went on for hours.

I can’t tell you how depressing it is at this point in my life to note nearly all the looters in Fairfax were black and gleeful and to hear the tawdry excuses offered for them by the media, as though pigmentation rendered one incapable of moral agency. The sin of looting was not that stealing was wrong, but that it was a distraction. America’s irredeemable racism is non-negotiable. Theft invites disapproving response from white people, who should not be speaking at all right now, only affirming.

If the goal last night was for no black person to be seen in handcuffs, the police could have done business owners a whole lot of good simply posting a uniform in front of each storefront with a camera recording license plates and faces.  They may have been told not to protect, but the least they could do was serve.

But that’s the point. We have entered a new era, haven’t we?  E Pluribus Unum no longer prevails.    The media chooses which groups must submit to the Law and those which are immune. Homeless encampments were the beginning.  Once we carved out a subset of the population to whom the rules did not apply,  our Portlandization was inevitable.

Tonight the looting is widespread. Santa Monica. Long Beach. The White Witch is here.

13 thoughts on “White Witch”

  1. Thank you for the wonderful post.

    I have been saying for a while that the real danger of homeless discourse is that is blows up the rule of law. They can shoot up heroin in the park; we can’t drink a beer. This breeds anger and lawlessness. “Peace and love” Garcetti and his true believers are ruining us.

    1. As someone temperamentally pro-immigration it pains me to say this, but the structural alterations of law given to those in the country illegally, particularly if they have committed crimes of violence, is not sustainable either.

      1. Totally agree. As the authorities carve out special classes of people, the resentment and the general lawlessness increases. As well as the anger.

        At the height of the immigrant influx, I would see them all walking home with stolen grocery carts. Except for one elderly couple that brought their own and acted with dignity. Within a few months, I saw all the anglos and others in the neighborhood do the same. Hey, why not?

      2. I’m not. Not when it’s so concentrated in a few places (number of “Born Abroad” in LA is staggering). Not when it keeps a lid on wages. And when, quite frankly, so few have any desire of become “American”, however you might want to define that, but simply retain in entirety
        their Mexican/Salvadoran/Persian/Armenian/etc. culture/language/customs, just with a different mailing address. End result is a society of strangers with zero in common, just bumping past each other. Living in Irvine 20 years ago, I looked around and thought…….This isn’t a country. It’s nothing but a job fair.

        That’s a mighty high price to pay for exotic food.

    1. I remember this clip!
      What’s different this time around? When the police tactically withdrew at the beginning of the King riots it was considered scandalous. 2020: The police have retreated in place for days now. Technically, they are “present”, but not really doing anything looting-wise. Not a lot of pushback from the media on that point.

      1. During the King riots many business owners armed up and banded together to protect their property. I don’t know if this practice is prevalent in the current round of riots and looting. If so, it isn’t being covered in the media.

        You’re right that the attitude toward the lack of police protections is the big change. As I prepare to pay my tax bills this month to the local and state authorities, this gives me pause to consider what I’m getting for my money. Why should we be compelled to pay when we are failed so miserably by Government? These people ultimately work for us, but nobody seems to understand this. We need to start withholding the money until we get an equitable exchange.

        1. It seems many local leaders have sanctioned the violence in Los Angeles for what occurred in Minneapolis. If one is harmed or traumatized by a set of individuals, for most people it is not socially acceptable to harm an unrelated set of individuals’ property or self as an expression of that grievance. The act is inherently prejudicial in that it’s based on an inference about identity, attitudes, and social relations that cannot be discerned by an aggressive impulse amongst a crowd. It seems to me suffering injustice is part of the human condition and each individual must take their share of responsibility for not perpetuating injustice. That means being just to others inclusive of finding ways to prevent yourself and those you care about from becoming victims. Unfortunately such attitudes erode the authority of leadership and so instead we have political correctness.

          1. “suffering injustice is part of the human condition and each individual must take their share of responsibility for not perpetuating injustice”.
            Love this, Bernardo. Agree and amplify.

  2. I’m profoundly ambivalent about the national political sturm and drang. I’ve seen this movie too many times before and I know how it ends. Nothing much ever changes.

    Here’s a question for you. If the government were to use technology (facial recognition software, license plate tracing, tracking the movement of individuals using street cams, cell phone and GPS…) in order to identify and prosecute looters and arsonists would you be on board with that? Your writing suggests you would. How does that square with your feelings about that same technology being used to observe your own activities? Where does Libertarianism overlap with (or conflict with) Law and Order? Will the broad middle demand Surveillance Capitalism to ensure public safety and order? And is that cool with your rugged individualism?

    1. Great questions. In answer to the first, I have accepted the cell phone’s role in my life as one of ongoing spyware. If there are things I need to remain private I keep them out of my pocket. I’m not as worried about the government as I am about America’s managerial and media classes inflicting a soft totalitarianism (not my phrasing) of political correctness on all of us which we accept in the name of staying employed.

  3. “During the King riots many business owners armed up and banded together to protect their property. I don’t know if this practice is prevalent in the current round of riots and looting. If so, it isn’t being covered in the media”

    They did in Van Nuys Scott:


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