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Golden State Exodus: Crime Rates Drive Residents and Businesses Away From California

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his hair gel seem to believe that if he doesn’t mention the crime problem in his state, it will just go away. Unfortunately for Golden State residents dealing with the issue, this is mere fantasy. Nevertheless, crime continues to be a primary motivating factor for residents and businesses fleeing California for safer pastures. This leaves a serious question: How much pain will Californians have to endure before their government decides to finally do something about crime?

In a recent interview, Newsom attributed the closure of retailers in San Francisco to struggles related to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of telework, rather than concerns about crime. While retailers such as AT&T, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and T-Mobile have closed their San Francisco locations, many residents have complained about open drug use and increasing crime rates.

“I think they’re — they’re struggling to recover from the pandemic. They’re struggling to come back,” he said while speaking with while speaking with Fox 11 reporter Elex Michaelson. He continued:

“They’re struggling with the macroeconomic shifts, particularly as it relates to telework, as it relates to what’s the future of a downtown, is it stacking of offices, or stacking the people? And they’re in the process of rezoning and rebirth and reimagination. By the way, I’ve seen that in San Francisco for decades.”

Yet, any sane or honest person could see that this occurrence has little to do with COVID-19 or people working from home. Crime is the issue:

San Francisco has witnessed significant increases in crime over 2023, with a 10% rise in homicides, a 14.7% rise in robberies and a 5.4% rise in motor vehicle thefts per data from the city’s police department. That increase, which has translated into large-scale larceny at storefronts in the city, often without police intervention, has led to many businesses closing their establishments in the city altogether.

On Thursday, telecommunications company AT&T announced that it would close its flagship store in the city’s Union Square shopping area, according to the San Francisco Standard. While the company’s CEO did not explicitly cite crime as the reason for closure, AT&T’s departure makes it the 25th major company – joining other major retailers such as Whole Foods, the Cinemark Theatre, GAP, Nordstrom and Banana Republic, among others – to leave the shopping hub since 2020, which is known for retail crimes, according to the Standard.

Crime has flourished in California due largely to the lax policies the state and local governments have enacted ostensibly to promote equity and fairness in the justice system. The passage of Prop 47 in 2014, which reduced theft of under $950 to a non-violent misdemeanor, has been blamed for the sharp rise in theft incidents, with a Target store reporting 10 incidents of theft per day. Law enforcement officials, including Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, have also criticized permissive drug laws for contributing to rising crime rates, highlighting the involvement of drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, and alcohol combined with marijuana in a majority of crimes.

The surge in crime and the closure of prominent retail locations in California have raised concerns about the impact of criminal justice reform measures like Propositions 47 and 57. These measures, supported by Gov. Newsom, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and several other leftist elites who will never have to suffer the consequences of these policies, reclassified certain non-violent felonies as misdemeanors, downgraded drug possession offenses, and increased chances of parole for nonviolent offenders.

Critics argue that these reforms have made the streets less safe and have led to early release of violent criminals, contrary to claims that these measures were designed to benefit nonviolent offenders only. While some Democratic politicians defend the reforms, citing lower reconviction rates and arguing that California remains less dangerous than many conservative states, critics claim that the measures have sent a message that certain crimes will be tolerated with lighter punishments.

The combination of progressive crime reform propositions, rogue prosecutors, defunding the police, and demoralization of law enforcement has created what some describe as a “perfect storm” of challenges for public safety in California. Nevertheless, the progressive left insists on playing this dangerous game of protecting criminals over civilians.

I’m all for reforming our criminal justice system, which is fraught with flaws and unjust practices. I’ve been an ardent critic of the War on Drugs, civil asset forfeiture, corrupt policing, and other issues. But when it comes to criminals who violate the rights of others, I believe in swift action from the government, whose only role should be to protect these rights. Individuals who threaten life, liberty, and property rights should not be allowed to continue doing so because the state refuses to protect the citizenry.

But as I alluded to earlier, the people pushing this approach to crime know they will never have to worry about being a victim of them. Until California’s residents decide to hold their government accountable, nothing will change.

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