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It’s time for Democratic politicians to stand up to the violence

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The thugs struck again two night ago, pillaging and vandalizing a large swath of central Oakland. A few were said to have been arrested, but that is public relations bullshit from the people who run this town. In reality, if anyone actually is arrested, they sign a piece of paper, pass through the revolving door and are back out on the streets immediately, where they can cause more mayhem next time.

I was going to walk to downtown Oakland later today to go to DeLauer’s Super Newsstand, which still sells magazines (many bookstores stopped when they had to close for the pandemic). But now, I think not. I get too upset seeing the wreckage, the boarded-up shop windows, the orange-vested cleanup men sweeping the broken glass and painting over the graffiti. I’m not in a mood to get upset, so for my walk I’ll ahead away from downtown, through the quiet neighborhoods of Adams Point.

I emailed my Governor, Gavin Newsom, to complain about the inability, or refusal, of Oakland officials to deal with the recurrent violence. He replied, in effect, that the State of California knows a lot about who these thugs are, and has shared that information with Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Oakland Police Department, but ultimately, it’s the city—not the state—that is responsible for arrests, indictments and penalties. If the city fails to follow through, it’s because of a lack of “political will.”

Yes, of course that’s true. What is this “political will” Oakland lacks? Donald Trump refers to it when he criticizes Oakland, Portland, Minneapolis and other American cities for their failure to crack down on the thugs. I agree with Trump, this time. I told our Governor, “Truth does not have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ pinned to it.” The truth is that the thugs are getting away with the murder of an American city—literally—and the people who run this city, from the Mayor and police chief right down to the city council members, eight politicians so fearful of getting voted out of office, from the best job they’ve ever had, that they dare do nothing that might upset their louder constituents on the left—the truth is that these professional politicians are derelict in the only duty they have that matters: To protect public order and keep us safe.

The truth is, also, that we can no longer pretend there’s a difference between the “peaceful” protestors and the violent thugs. That fiction sustained us for a while, but it has to go. I saw the videos of the “peaceful” protestors. About 700 of them formed a phalanx that was as militarized in form as any brigade of soldiers. Among their ranks were the smaller numbers of thugs who later rioted, set fire to the county courthouse, smashed the windows of Whole Foods and looted it and God knows how many other stores. The protestors who did not riot were well aware of the ones among them who would and did. They gave the thugs cover; it was part of the plan. Meanwhile, the police just watched, did nothing, as Kristallnacht went down in Oakland. I asked someone at Whole Foods, which is just around the corner from my home, if they had had security guards to protect the store, since everyone knew the violence was coming. “The security guards can only protect our individual employees,” he told me. “They’re not allowed to do anything else.” They can’t stop window smashers. They can’t stop looters running through the store, stealing things. They can’t take photos of rioters for later identification. They can’t, in other words, do anything.

So we have the police who are unable or unwilling to stop rioting bands of marauders in the center of town. We have private security guards who are unable or unwilling to provide security. It’s not their fault; it’s the fault of the ones who give them their orders. The prevailing philosophy seems to be, “It’s better to let marauders have their fun, than to try to stop them, which would only lead to more violence.” So the marauders are in charge; they’re calling the shots. The rioters, looters and vandals are in charge of a major American city, and no one seems much to care.

Except us, the people. We look on in horror as our officials abandon ship. Our city is going up in flames, while Libby Schaaf, her police department and the city council fiddle and debate who’s Blacker than whom. Libby Schaaf isn’t as bad as her predecessor, the inept, racist Jeanne Quan, who actually led a rally against her own police department, an act so stupid, so treacherous, that she couldn’t win re-election in a city whose corrupt politicians never, ever get voted out of office. Jean Quan did; not even the most leftwing of Oaklanders could stand her anymore.

But Libby Schaaf is pretty bad. I begged our Governor to make a speech about the situation in Oakland. This whole BLM-defund the police-violent protest thing has become the biggest political issue in America. Trump is inching up in the polls because of it. Biden is losing traction. Democratic Senatorial candidates in swing states who looked pretty good two weeks ago are now looking not so good. Trump’s dire warnings of widespread anarchy are taking hold; they work, because they’re not lies. I begged Gov. Newsom to make a Sista Souljah-type speech of the kind Bill Clinton made in 1992, a speech that roundly rejected the murderous, racist fantasies of Sistah Souljah, and that probably won Clinton the election. Clinton showed that he was for law and order and respect for the cops, and not just some angry, reflexive liberal. Gov. Newsom has the opportunity to do the same, and I hope he does. Democrats have to get ahead of this issue. They have to meet it head-on. The time is now; the election is coming; it’s going to be about law and order.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    At dinner last night I said that in my opinion, if Trump wins it will be because of the rioting and the authorities’ unwillingness to do anything about it. Nobody disagreed.

  2. Chris Hayes had a segment on this last night on MSNBC. He said Democrats are terrified by the violence which, they fear, will hand the election to trump. This in my opinion is a bigger issue than COVID or the economy. I am appalled that these looters get away with it over and over and over–and authorities are not able to tell us who they are or what are their motives.

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