fbpx

Los Angeles Needs Batman…And Another District Attorney

Like Gotham City, we have our own villains, too. Ask many Angelenos about crime today and they’ll put the blame squarely on one man: District Attorney George Gascón.

Tabby Refael (on Twitter @RefaelTabby) is a Los Angeles based writer, speaker and activist.

https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
Tabby Refael
Tabby Refael (on Twitter @RefaelTabby) is a Los Angeles based writer, speaker and activist.

Last week, I wrote about my various anxieties related to the worrisome uptick in crime in Los Angeles. Recently, I’ve begun to feel that I live in an unpredictable and chaotic Gotham City, and Batman — the one person tasked with keeping everyone safe — has moved to Florida. 

Like Gotham City, we have our own villains, too. Ask many Angelenos about crime today and they’ll put the blame squarely on one man: District Attorney George Gascón. Between his zero-bail policy, his office’s refusal to prosecute certain crimes and reduced sentences on crimes related to hate, guns and gangs, he has enraged many families of victims, judges and members of law enforcement. It’s no wonder there’s another recall effort to remove Gascón from office, spearheaded by families of crime victims. Last week, Lili Bosse, the Vice Mayor of Beverly Hills and a Democrat, announced she would sign the recall petition. Last March, in an unprecedented move, the Beverly Hills City Council passed a resolution of a vote of no confidence in the D.A.

What does Washington have to say about crime? From smash-and-grab robberies to break-ins at homes and businesses, the White House has repeatedly claimed that rising crime is a result of the pandemic. But try telling that to the average person who’s been robbed this year, including my father. In early June, he left his apartment in the Pico-Robertson area, car keys in hand, only to find his van missing. I spent the rest of the day helping him ensure a police report would be filed (and applying for full insurance coverage). He was devastated. 

Through the generosity of friends, my father was able to secure a second [used] van. Two weeks after his first van was stolen, he stepped outside and found the second one gone. That was one of the most stressful days of his life (and mine). 

When the Los Angeles Police Department finally located both vans later that month, there was scarce consolation for us; the vans were gutted and abandoned somewhere downtown. Both were missing catalytic convertors, batteries, and other parts. On top of it all, the city slapped us with a huge fine for leaving the vans in an impound lot for too long (we didn’t even know they had been located for days after). 

You know one of the worst things about having your van stolen not once, but twice, within a matter of weeks? Well-intentioned, overly progressive people who hear your terrible story, but who try to explain that your vehicle was stolen, gutted, and abandoned because folks out there are simply “desperate.” Where I come from (Iran), a desperate person steals a loaf of bread for his family, not a catalytic converter containing scraps of platinum. I imagine anyone who blames “desperate” thieves also voted for Gascón.

In my Pico-Robertson neighborhood, the sound of police helicopters lulls me to sleep several times a week. And that’s saying nothing of my handy Citizen app, which has only exacerbated my misery with constant notifications such as “Man wielding machete 900 feet away.” I really need to delete that app. 

Is Los Angeles safe, or isn’t it? In a statement, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said robberies have increased by 12.7 percent this year compared to 2019. Statistics for two weeks prior showed the highest number of robberies for the entire year (about 200 reported, most of which were street robberies). Homicides in L.A. have increased by roughly 50 percent; violent crimes are up by 6.3 percent. 

Interestingly, the upsurge in crime presents a unique problem for cities like Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Pacific Palisades, which have overwhelmingly Democratic voter turnout — people who voted for many policies that are now failing them — as they find their homes and businesses the target of armed robberies. There’s also the problem of these cities’ important public image. Beverly Hills officials, in particular, know that they can’t even take a small chance that the famous city would be associated with lack of safety. 

In his first week on the job, Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Mark Stainbrook was already handling the horrible murder of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant. It’s not often that you see a Beverly Hills official on Fox News, but there he was on December 7, blasting California legislation that he claimed puts criminals right back on the street like a revolving door:

“We’re catching the criminals. The problem is we’re catching them over and over again, and they’re being released very quickly without bail, and they’re not staying in prison, so we just continue to deal with the same people again and again.”
– Mark Stainbrook, Beverly Hills Police Department Chief

“That’s the thing,” he said on Fox News, “we’re catching the criminals. The problem is we’re catching them over and over again, and they’re being released very quickly without bail, and they’re not staying in prison, so we just continue to deal with the same people again and again.”

When asked why there’s been such a stark rise in crime, Stainbrook said: 

“This is a confluence of about ten years of laws and policy making starting with Prop 47, then AB 109, then Prop 57, which essentially decriminalized many of the crimes in California. They also allowed more prisoners to be released back into California streets. And then, with bail reform, exasperated by COVID, you have more criminals on the streets. And essentially, the California voters were sold this bill of goods that these laws would reduce the criminal population in jails, but the money that was saved would be used for job placement, drug and alcohol treatment, mental illness, housing, those sorts of things. And we just haven’t seen those services on the back end to reduce crime.”

Stainbrook acknowledged that areas such as Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades have been “historically safe neighborhoods,” but reflected that on his second day as police chief, “we arrested three robbery suspects, we recovered three guns, at least one of those individuals, because he was a juvenile, was immediately released and back on the streets.” Stainbrook concluded his thoughts by reiterating that the pandemic is only part of the problem:

“I don’t blame it on any one thing,” he said. “It’s a confluence of a lot of things. Some lawmaking that wasn’t really thought out, some policies and things we could get better. What we’re asking for…my cops, like I said, I love them, they’re making the right arrests…again and again… so, we just need some help from the public and politicians to change some laws here and policies.” 

What will it take for L.A. to become safer? For Beverly Hills, it took the murder of Jacqueline Avant and thieves targeting iconic stores on Rodeo Drive. Californians voted for legislation that offered a utopian promise of more safety. Ironically, I fear that now, more people will find a means of self-defense, including yes, obtaining guns and other weapons. I spoke with one small business owner in Westwood who told me, “I’m making preparations to get a gun.”

In spite of everything, I still deeply love Los Angeles, even if it’s morphing into the City of Angels…and Demons. 

In spite of everything, I still deeply love Los Angeles, even if it’s morphing into the City of Angels…and Demons.

But I’m also taking some precautions. Recently, I bought my father a taser, on one condition: That he not accidentally use it against my mother. We’ll see how that works out. 


Tabby Refael is a Los Angeles-based writer, speaker, and civic action activist. Follow her on Twitter @RefaelTabby

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Culture

Latest Articles
Latest

Engraved Freedom – Thoughts on Torah Portion Yitro

  Engraved Freedom – Thoughts on Torah Portion Yitro  We read in the Torah that the 10 Commandments were engraved on stone tablets. There is a...

As Long as Jews Succeed, They Will Attract Hate

It’s possible that even without this nefarious view of the all-powerful Jew, there is enough in “Jewish success” to fuel plenty of envy and Jew-hatred.

Local Jewish Women Organize Brianna Kupfer Memorial

On January 13, 24-year-old Brianna Kupfer was stabbed to death while working alone at Croft House on La Brea Avenue in Hancock Park. Allegedly,...

Sundance Film Festival Press Welcome

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of virtually attending the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Press Welcome, and it did not disappoint.  Sundance runs virtually...

Campus Double Standards and the Need to Protect Jewish and Zionist Students

The anti-Zionist motivated verbal harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students is generally treated as free speech and ignored or downplayed by school administrators, while similarly harassing speech directed at other minority groups is addressed promptly and vigorously, with the harassers duly disciplined.

Hollywood

Podcasts

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x