Over the weekend, there were disturbing news reports coming out of the more affluent sections of the San Francisco Bay area of California, of large gangs engaged in the organized looting of high end retail stores and shopping malls.
In the most brazen of the incidents, a gang of 80 people wearing ski masks and carrying crowbars robbed a Nordstrom department store at the Broadway Plaza in San Francisco’s Walnut Creek suburb Saturday night. The large-scale smash-and-grab raid lasted less than one minute, and injured three store employees. The gang terrorized shoppers, took bag loads of merchandise, stripped the store’s shelves, and then made their high speed getaway in about 25 cars which were waiting for them on the street outside the store.
An 18-year-old Oakland man and two people from San Francisco, ages 30 and 32, were later taken into custody by Walnut Creek police on suspicion of crimes committed at the Nordstrom store including burglary, robbery, conspiracy and possession of stolen property. Police also seized a gun from one of the suspects.
At about 8 p.m. on the previous night, the Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco’s Union Square was ransacked by a group of more than a dozen masked thieves. They smashed the store’s front window, snatched up its merchandise, and then ran through the streets with their hands full of very expensive clothing items and bags. Store officials estimate that they lost a total of $100,000 worth of merchandise in the robbery.
At 5:25 on Sunday afternoon, about half an hour before closing time, 40 to 50 looters carrying sledgehammers entered Sam’s Jewelry store in the Southland Mall in the East Bay town of Hayward. They smashed several jewelry cases and fled with an undisclosed quantity of loot. An adjacent Macy’s store was also ransacked.
In a video taken during the robbery, workers inside Sam’s Jewelers can be heard screaming in fear.
“I would say at least 30 to 40 [people were involved] from what I saw,” said one witness. “But then after the main group of kids rushed out, we saw 15 to 20 scattering, some even came back in.”
Another witness who was working near Sam’s Jewelers said, “We saw all the other stores closing. They were panicking, so we were panicking and quickly closed our store and barricaded ourselves.”
About one hour later, a group of thieves entered the Lululemon high-end athletic apparel store in the Santana Row neighborhood of San Jose, and made off with a significant amount of merchandise.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE POLICE?
Even more shocking, local police departments in the Bay area have made only a handful of arrests related to these brazen robberies. Their failure or refusal to respond effectively to the crime wave is a reflection of policy decisions made by California’s liberal Democrat elected officials and district attorneys out of their the tolerance for vandalism, looting and pillaging.
These incidents are also part of a larger pattern of robberies which have been plaguing retail stores throughout California since 2014, when state voters approved Proposition 47 which reduced thefts of property worth less than $950 from felonies to misdemeanors.
Once criminals realized that they were unlikely to be arrested or prosecuted for stealing less than $1,000 worth of merchandise, they naturally responded to the incentive, and took advantage of the open season on shoplifting that liberal authorities and voters had given them to take whatever they want. When store owners realized that the police would not even try to protect them from thieves any more, they advised their employees for their own safety not to try to interfere.
At this point, most stores don’t even bother reporting such thefts to police. Unless covered by insurance, they have to absorb the losses as a cost of doing business, until they reach the point that it no longer pays for them to keep operating.
In one recent incident, a thief entered a Walgreen’s pharmacy with his bicycle, went to the back of the store, loaded up a big trash bag with stolen merchandise, and then jumped on his bike to ride down the aisle and out of the store before anyone could try to stop him.
The Walgreen’s chain reports that its San Francisco stores experience a level of theft five times the national average. Because of these losses, Walgreen’s has closed 17 of its 70 stores in the area, and recently announced plans to close five more, including the one robbed by the man on the bike.
Target and Safeway stores in the area have been trying to limit their losses by putting more of their merchandise in the stores, including cheaper items, such as toothpaste and shampoo, behind security locks. Last week, one of the Safeway supermarkets announced that it would no longer be open 24 hours-a-day. Its new operating hours will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. to reduce its exposure to such thefts.
A BYPRODUCT OF PROGRESSIVE RULE
The current spike in lawlessness in the San Francisco area is a direct result of the permissive policies of its radical “woke” district attorney, Chesa Boudin, who is the son of two convicted former Weather Underground domestic terrorists from the ant-Vietnam War era. Since taking office last year, Boudin has released 40% of the convicted inmates of San Francisco’s prisons, and has refused to prosecute shoplifters and other criminals for thefts of property.
Boudin will be facing a recall election next year due to a petition signed by 83,000 San Francisco citizens who are furious at his hostility towards police, his wholesale release of jailed repeat offenders, and his record of charging only 48% of those who have been arrested for all reported crimes since he took office.
Boudin also came under intense pressure to take action from the Target department store chain, after it became known that one of its stores in the Stonestown Galleria shopping mall had been robbed by the same female shoplifter, Aziza Graves, 120 times between October 2020 and November 2021, making off with a total of $40,000 worth of merchandise. After concluding an investigation, Boudin had San Francisco police arrest the woman last week.
Graves carried out the robberies by pretending that she was paying for the items she took off the store’s shelves at one of the self-service checkout kiosks. She would scan the items but submit only a token payment of $1 or just a penny, pretending to anyone watching that she had completed the transaction before walking out of the store with her loot. In most cases, she would take relatively cheap household items, such as laundry detergent, which she could then easily resell nearby, but on at least eight occasions, Graves stole enough merchandise to qualify as a felony for which district attorney Boudin will be prosecuting her in court.
But the arrest and prosecution of Graves is the exception in San Francisco and the larger Bay Area rather than the rule. Thanks to Proposition 47 and permissive district attorneys like Boudin, the San Francisco Bay area now has the dubious honor of being the unofficial Shoplifting Capital of the USA.
Even though official disregard for lawlessness in the Bay area in particular, and California in general, predates last year’s nationwide outbreak of violent protests in reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis, Minnesota policeman, they both stem from similarly permissive political attitudes.
Initially, liberal politicians and their allies in the mainstream media sought to depict the George Floyd protests as legitimate expressions of public concern over what the Black Lives Matter movement and other progressive activists claimed is the “systemic racism” in law enforcement agencies responsible for a nationwide pattern of excessive use of deadly force by white cops against black suspects. The “woke” progressive activists, such as Bernie Sanders and AOC, generously supported by a the super-rich, white corporate elites who dominate both the Democrat party and America’s secular media cancel culture, claim that their cause is driven by concerns over the lack of racial “equity” (as opposed to racial equality) in American society and the rapidly widening income gap between the privileged wealthy and much larger working class segments of the population.
USING FEAR TO GRAB FOR ABSOLUTE POWER
But ten months into the Biden administration, it has become clear that its policies and economic agenda are not really as driven by its “woke” progressive-socialist ideology, or the need to eliminate the vanishing remnants of racial inequality in American society, as its advocates would have you believe. It is much more about the acquisition by liberal Democrat elected and unelected officials, on the local, state and federal government levels, of absolute power to impose their arbitrary rules on every segment of the lives of the American people using the tools of fear, intimidation and the ruthless government and non-government censorship of all non-conforming free speech and ideas.
The tools of fear include the deliberate undermining by progressive government officials of the ability of the police and other responsible agencies to maintain law and order in our streets. The new standards of government permissiveness for looting, pillaging and other forms of violent criminal behavior were set by the riots during the summer of 2020. Since then, the American people have come to realize that they can no longer count on local police to come to their rescue when they call 911 for help after being confronted by violent crime on the street, in their workplace or in their homes.
The new American public safety reality is reflected in the boarded-up windows and empty storefronts which remain common sights in once prosperous downtown business districts and shopping malls, and the soaring rates of shooting deaths in minority-populated inner city neighborhoods across America. The organized, large-scale looting and pillaging of up-scale targets in the San Francisco Bay area that we are now seeing is merely the start of the next phase of the takeover by criminal elements that has been enabled by permissive liberal government officials and their policies.
DEMORALIZING THE POLICE
The new political tolerance for lawlessness country has also demoralized career police officers across the country, who risk being unfairly demonized as racists and criminals if they try to do their job of protecting innocent people through the active enforcement of law and order.
The so-called Ferguson effect, in which entire police forces become passive and ineffective in response to false accusations by local politicians of racially-motivated police brutality, has now become a nationwide trend. It was first observed in Ferguson, Missouri, following the anti-police riots touched off by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police officer Derek Wilson, who acted in self-defense, and was not charged with any crime. Police officer performance tends to deteriorate when their professionalism and impartiality are being challenged. The additional scrutiny makes them much more reluctant to intervene in situations which could escalate into a violent confrontation with a criminal, for fear that the police officer himself is likely to be blamed. This has inevitably led to the increase in the rates of murders and gun violence that has swept the nation over the past 18 months.
Police departments in cities large and small across the country report a major increase in early retirement by frustrated veteran officers, leaving the departments severely shorthanded, and the morale of the remaining officers at an all time low. According to a recent survey by the National Police Foundation, 86% of departments reported a staffing shortage and increasing difficulty in recruiting qualified replacements. The resulting increases in local crime rates have prompted many city officials who had given in to the demands by Black Lives Matter and other progressive activists to “defund the police” to quietly restore the cuts in funding and step up their efforts to recruit and train replacement officers.
THE DECLINE OF THE NYPD
Such efforts are especially popular in poor inner city neighborhoods whose residents feel that their streets are under siege by violent criminals who are a threat to their personal safety. New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer, ran in the September Democrat primary against more progressive candidates on a pro-police, law-and-order platform, which won him the support of the residents of the city’s outer-borough minority neighborhoods.
Adams recently re-affirmed his intention to reinstate the NYPD plain clothes Anti-Crime Unit that was disbanded under orders from outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite warnings by local leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement that the move would result in more police killings, triggering violent riots and bloodshed on city streets.
But after meeting with the black activists in his office at Brooklyn Borough Hall to discuss the issue, Adams told reporters that he will not back down in the face of their threats. “New Yorkers should not allow rhetoric like that. This city is not going to be a city of riots. This city is not going to be a city of burning. This is going to be a city where we’re going to be safe. We’re going to have effective policing that’s not heavy-handed,” Adams declared.
However, according to an internal poll of 6,000 NYPD officers taken in March, whose results were published over the weekend by the New York Post, 56% say that they now regret having joined the force, making it very difficult for the new mayor to restore the shattered morale of the city’s veteran police officers.
In addition, 80 percent of the NYPD officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants and captains surveyed said that they are reluctant while on duty to be aggressive in fighting crime because they fear criminal liability, lawsuits, or being unfairly disciplined.
It is no secret that the ultra-liberal law enforcement policies instituted over the last eight years by Mayor de Blasio have been highly unpopular with New York’s cops. In 2016, a survey taken by their union, the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the vast majority of cops said they disliked their jobs and felt a lot safer before de Blasio took office.
The latest blow to NYPD morale came this past March, when the City Council passed a reform measure which put an end to the qualified immunity which protected the cops against civil lawsuits.
HEADING FOR THE EXITS
PBA President Patrick Lynch told the New York Post that the results of the latest internal NYPD survey “should surprise nobody. . .
“New York City police officers are well past our breaking point, and Mayor de Blasio and the outgoing City Council are still piling on with policies that punish cops and erode public safety. The intolerable environment and our substandard pay has every cop looking to get out as soon as they can. Our new leaders have a real mess to clean up. They need to start by supporting the beleaguered cops on the street.”
Those sentiments were confirmed by “Dan,” a 20-year NYPD veteran who took the internal survey, and told the Post, “My retirement date is next month. I can’t wait to run out of here.”
Dan also agrees with 79% of the other cops who took the survey that, “The city is absolutely not safe at all. Bail reform. Criminals being released. Everyone knows what’s going on.”
Other NYPD cops who are also fed up but too young to retire are being actively recruited by departments in cities with more cop-friendly policies, such as Lakeland, Florida, which has added 14 NYPD veterans to its force since the beginning of this year.
Yet another problem for the NYPD is that its current vacancies are not being filled on the basis of merit. Some well-qualified applicants to join the force have been waiting for two years for a slot in the NYPD’s cadet officer training program, because they have been passed over in favor of less qualified candidates who were chosen solely because they fit the department’s newly instituted racial or ethnic hiring quotas.
MANIPULATING THE PANDEMIC
Another effective element in the political toolbox of fear is the never-ending Covid pandemic health emergency, which liberal Democrat officials now routinely use to justify their imposition of arbitrary and largely unnecessary pandemic restrictions. This includes making Covid vaccination a requirement of employment in the private as well as public economy, even for adults with natural immunity to the virus or concerns about the safety of the vaccines. It is also used to require young children, most of whom have a natural resistance to the virus, to wear masks in school which, by themselves, provide very little real protection against the spread of the virus, and which can make it much more difficult for students to learn effectively.
The liberal Climate Change/Green Energy narrative, which the media erroneously insists is based upon a “settled” consensus in the scientific community over global warming, is another tool which Democrats use to frighten ordinary citizens into supporting an economically ruinous war on this country’s fossil fuel industry that will undermine this country’s energy independence and give an unfair advantage to our fossil fuel-friendly enemies, including Russia, Iran and China.
Now the Biden administration is admonishing parents that what the government chooses to teach their children in public schools is none of their business, and that if they dare to try interfere by raising objections at their local school board meetings to the new liberal “woke” curriculums, they risk being investigated by the FBI and condemned by the attorney general as domestic terrorists.
That is not an idle threat. Early in the morning of November 16, Sherronna Bishop, a woman who lives in western Colorado, and was instrumental in recently getting parents a seat on nine school boards in the area, had her home raided by the FBI, which broke down her door and handcuffed her in front of her young, home-schooled children, over a minor complaint which had something to do with local elections, and her alleged connections to a shadowy group of conspiracy theorists known as Qanon.
Liberals however, including organizations like the ACLU, which long promoted themselves as the champions of civil liberties and an individual’s constitutional rights, seem to have no objections to these Gestapo-like government tactics, as long as they are directed at supporters of Donald Trump or others who dare to challenge the principles and “truths” which have been proclaimed by the progressive/liberal cancel culture.
At the same time, the liberal/progressive political agenda is pushing hard for the expansion of the socialist-inspired welfare entitlement programs to make more members of the American middle class, in addition to the poor, permanently dependent upon handouts from the federal government and compliant with new government edicts controlling all aspects of our lives, from the kinds of cars we are allowed to own and drive, to the kinds of bags with which we can carry our groceries home from the supermarket, to the kinds of disposable cups from which we can drink our coffee.
SEEING THE PATTERN
While this country has suffered many acts of violence and disruptions to normal life over the twenty months since the Covid pandemic broke out, it is now possible for the first time to see an underlying pattern to these events. They are being orchestrated by a loose, informal coalition of deep-state government bureaucrats, progressive activists, the mainstream media, and the wealthy, self-appointed members of a liberal cultural elite, who are dictating the radical policies of the Biden administration and the very narrow Democrat working majorities in both Houses of Congress which are trying to turn them into law.
None of this is accidental or a coincidence. The violent riots, the tolerance for lawlessness, the unnecessary Covid restrictions, the bogus anti-American history of Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, the false hysteria over right-wing domestic terrorists and its immediate predecessor – the Russian collusion hoax, the exaggerated global warming and climate change fears, the organized censorship of dissenting opinions and free speech, the secular war against religious practices and beliefs, the attacks against private enterprise and free market capitalism, the ever-expanding welfare state programs, and, yes, government spending-induced runaway inflation, too, are all part of the larger plan.
To make up for their lack of a clear mandate from the voters, the members of that deep state-progressive-mainstream media-cultural elite coalition have been expanding their political power by deliberately intimidating the American people. Through the policies of the Biden administration, they are now trying to use that power to radically reshape the constitutional structure of the American government and its free-market economy as we know it.
The methods and goals of their plot to remake America and seize absolute power are now becoming clearer. In the words of the classic comic strip character Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”