The morning after holding a press conference vowing to get tough with organized retail theft rings that are essentially terrorizing business owners in Los Angeles (and its surrounding areas), Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass hit the NPR airwaves (where she knew nobody would be listening) to blame “the press and especially the conservative press that wants to paint…Democratic-run cities as though we are in a crisis of crime” for the “sense of fear” in the city, not the criminals themselves.
In the Friday morning interview Bass also claimed that people are safe in Los Angeles and that “crime trends show crime going down,” but says the Los Angeles Police Department is incredibly short-staffed and that is leading to some of the problems they’re seeing.
Flashback to Thursday, when Bass held a press conference with LA County Sheriff Robert Luna, LAPD Assistant Chief Dominic Choi, and other regional police chiefs to announce the formation of a regional task force “focused on organized retail theft,” and referenced people feeling unsafe.
Mayor Karen Bass, Los Angeles Police Department and Regional Law Enforcement Leaders Announce New Task Force Focused on Organized Retail Theft
Watch the press conference: https://t.co/9YLocKNitF
Read the news release:https://t.co/URKcmC9UqC pic.twitter.com/6YwSNXmv2Q
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) August 17, 2023
In the press release announcing the task force formation, Bass said (emphasis mine):
“What we’ve seen over just the past week in the City of Los Angeles and in surrounding regions is unacceptable, which is why today we are here announcing action. These are not victimless crimes – especially in the case where Angelenos were attacked – through force or fear – as they did their jobs or ran errands. No Angeleno should feel like it’s unsafe to go shopping and no Angelenos should feel like it’s unsafe to open a business in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County. This task force will aggressively investigate these incidents and hold individuals that are responsible for these crimes fully accountable.”
When journalists pressed Bass on important issues like lack of prosecution of crimes when people are actually arrested, wondering why, for instance, District Attorney George Gascon was not at the press conference (he was still nursing wounds from his own press conference the day before, when an NBC LA reporter asked him if it isn’t time to change the way crime is prosecuted in Los Angeles), Bass hastily changed the subject. She replied:
Let me just say that the purpose of this press conference was really to announce the formation of the task force. The task force is very large. So we wanted to announce the task force…the task force is very, very large. We didn’t have everyone here from the task force.
But to change the subject, Mayor Bass, is to deny a major part of the problem. These thefts are occurring because criminals know they aren’t going to be held accountable in a meaningful way. Gascon isn’t going to charge enhancements. They aren’t going to spend time behind bars awaiting trial. So if Gascon is not going to be on board, what’s the point?
Bass’ NPR appearance was probably designed to sell the illusion of safety to nervous people across Los Angeles, and when Bass was asked, “What do you want business owners, shoppers, diners and tourists to know about how safe they are in Los Angeles?” she couldn’t even admit what the problem is and had to make it political. She said:
Well, what I want them to know is that they are safe in Los Angeles. Crime trends show crime going down. However, when you have a spectacular-type crime happen like this, it does create a sense of fear. But one of the reasons it does is because it’s exploited by the press and especially the conservative press that wants to paint Los Angeles and many other Democratic-run cities as though we are in a crisis of crime. And that is not the case.
According to the latest crime statistics, there is a decline in property crimes if you’re simply looking year-over-year, but rates are still significantly higher than they were two years ago and before the pandemic.
By contrast, violent and property crimes both spiked in the first five months of 2022; the decline in violent crime this year brings the total for 2023 close to its 2021 level, but property crime remains significantly higher than it was two years ago.
It seems that both Mayor Bass and District Attorney George Gascon are trying to tell people that what they’re personally experiencing just isn’t happening. As we reported earlier this week, liberals who voted for Gascon are now turning on him as they start seeing the effects of his policies in their own neighborhoods.
“We are f—ing terrified because these start out as low-level crimes, but it has gradually exploded. These criminals are not getting prosecuted and they know it. It’s off the rails.”
People are terrified because they have good reason to be. Smash-and-grabs get a lot of publicity on social media, but random violent crimes in formerly safe areas – a man walking his dog along the Santa Monica Boardwalk stabbed to death by a homeless man in broad daylight, for example – people can’t feel safe anywhere. You can’t simply say, stay away from Hollywood or Venice or downtown LA and you’ll be fine. You can’t go about your daily life without taking precautions as if you’re traversing the enemy’s territory during a war. Mayor Bass, this fear isn’t because of conservative media. This fear is because of lived experiences, something you claim to be a fan of honoring. And it’s not just conservative media calling this out, unless you’re calling ABC and NBC and Fox LA conservative media. And to the extent conservative media does point out the legitimate links between the policies of George Gascon, Robert Luna, and yourself, and the unsafe conditions in Los Angeles County, your problem with conservative media isn’t that they’re talking about the topic in negative terms. You’d rather they not talk about it at all, so you can continue your illusion of progress.