Jailbreak: Hamstringing the Police
Written by William F. Jasper
Leftist politicians and their laws and policies are guaranteeing a revolving-door “catch and release” justice system that rewards criminals and endangers the innocent.
A pattern of revolving-door injustice and public endangerment has been on display with regard to the riots in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and dozens of other Democrat-controlled cities. Although liberal-left, soft-on-crime politicians and judges in these jurisdictions have contributed greatly to the crime problems that have plagued our inner cities for decades, the recent addition of Soros-backed “social justice” prosecutors and “bail reform” laws sends disturbing signals that these areas are heading toward complete social disintegration.
New York City — On June 3, amid continued violence, rioting, and looting in New York City, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea denounced the state’s newly enacted “bail reform” law that eliminated cash bail for most crimes, putting thousands of rioters and looters back on the streets faster than the police could arrest and book them. “We cannot have people entering a system and being released before the police officers,” Shea said. On the same day, New York City District Attorney Cy Vance called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to use his emergency powers (which he has exercised mercilessly with his COVID lockdowns against law-abiding citizens) to give judges authority to set bail for those posing danger to society. “This is about people who are taking advantage of this moment when people want to come out and protest peacefully,” Vance said. “I’m calling for more judicial discretion.” Also on June 3, the Associated Press reported that “at least 9,300 people have been arrested since the protests over George Floyd’s killing began.”
The vast majority of those arrested were released without bail and without even being charged, while prosecutors and police were outraged that even some of the most egregious offenders were released, though they should have been kept in custody to protect public safety. Consider, for instance, the case of activist lawyers Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, who were caught on video handing out Molotov cocktails to rioters. Rahman, age 31, who was a “human rights” attorney for Bronx Legal Services, is even seen on the video throwing a lighted Molotov cocktail at an NYPD patrol car. Mattis, age 32, is a graduate of Princeton University; Rahman is a graduate of Fordham University. Meanwhile, hundreds of police officers throughout New York state were attacked, many seriously injured, and several killed.
St. Louis, Missouri — “In a stunning development, our office has learned that every single one of the St. Louis looters and rioters arrested were released back onto the streets by local prosecutor Kim Gardner,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted on June 3. “Folks are back out on the street and I think it’s shocking,” Schmitt stated regarding St. Louis, where retired black Police Captain David Dorn was murdered defending a store from looters, and at least four other officers were shot. Gardner, an ultra-left-wing activist, has ignited a St. Louis crime wave since she was put into office in 2016, as one of the key district attorney races across the country targeted by George Soros. The leftist billionaire’s super PAC contributed “at least $190,750” to Gardner’s campaign, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which dwarfed all contributions to her competitors’ campaigns.
Philadelphia — Even prior to the riots over George Floyd’s death, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, William McSwain, was pointing out that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s “social justice” activism was endangering public safety. In March, McSwain blamed Krasner for the fatal shooting of Philadelphia PD Officer James O’Connor, allegedly murdered by Hassan Elliott, whom McSwain described as a dangerous “gangbanger” with an extensive violent record, but who had nevertheless been released repeatedly. Krasner, who has been praised by leftists as “the most progressive DA in the country,” is another of the radical attorneys put into office with funding from the Safety & Justice super PAC backed by Soros and fellow Democratic billionaires of his Democracy Partners. As rioting engulfed Philadelphia, Krasner released equivocal statements that seemed to excuse the violence in the name of “this righteous & urgent movement #BlackLivesMatter.” McSwain accused Krasner of “not showing any concern for the safety of the community” and of “essentially fanning the flames” of the city’s rioting and looting.
Washington, D.C. — The Washington Times reported on June 4 that the federal Department of Justice, which handles prosecutions in the District, had dropped charges against many of the rioters. More than 400 people had been arrested by then in connection with D.C. disturbances since May 29, according to police and court rec-ords, the Times said. Of the 104 people arrested over the May 30-31 weekend, the paper noted, “50% of them were charged with rioting, but most had that charge dismissed or lowered to violation of curfew, a misdemeanor.” This seems to be a replay of the DOJ’s dismissal of charges against the violent rioters and arsonists who disrupted President Trump’s inauguration. Instead of getting prison time, they were given “get out of jail free” passes by the Obama holdovers at DOJ. It appears there are still plenty of the same social-justice warriors operating out of the Justice Department swamp.
Catch and Release
In addition to liberal-left, soft-on-crime activists already mentioned above, Soros-funded radical prosecutors include Rachel Rollins (Boston), Kim Foxx (Chicago), Chesa Boudin (San Francisco), and Kim Ogg (Houston), as well as new sheriff Paul Penzone in Phoenix, whom Soros backed with an astounding $2 million to unseat Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In addition to defeating Sheriff Arpaio, who had developed a national fan base for his tough stances against crime and illegal migration, Penzone appointed left-wing attorney Stephanie Fleischman Cherny as his chief of staff and special counsel. Fleischman Cherny had filed on behalf of the National Council of La Raza, the radical Hispanic group, in its lawsuit against then-Governor Jan Brewer and then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and she has been carrying out a purge program to force out deputies who are not lockstep Penzone lackeys.
A big part of the national catch-and-release phenomenon is the stealth “bail reform” agenda that has swept the country over the past couple of years, with devastating results. Financed by Soros and like-minded “philanthropists,” proponents for eliminating cash bail for a large number of crimes have hailed the move as an “equity” issue to remove a feature of “systemic injustice” that discriminates against poor people. Many states have eliminated bail, and a number of them — New York included — have denied judges the authority to take into consideration whether the person poses a threat to public safety when making a decision to release, or not release, an individual. “When you have individuals that are standing before a judge and immediately being released, and essentially everyone in the room knows that this person is a danger to the community, I think we need to look at the system and make sure that judges can make common-sense decisions,” Police Commissioner Shea said in a radio interview last December, prior to the no-bail law going into effect.
It did not take long for his warnings to be validated. On January 24 Commissioner Shea announced that already “we are seeing significant spikes in crime. Either we have forgotten how to police New York City or there is a correlation…. If you let out individuals that commit a lot of crime, that’s precision policing in reverse and we’re seeing the effects in a very quick time, and that is why we’re concerned.”
The website LawEnforcementToday.com summarized the commissioner’s report: “Through Jan. 19 of this year compared with the same period last year, statistics show that robberies are up 31.5%, burglaries are up 15%, grand larceny is up 5.6%, and auto thefts, which had been in a sharp decline recently, have spiked up 67%. The total for all serious felonies was up 11% year over year compared to 2019.” “Put another way,” the website said, “since percentages do not tell the whole story, a total of 233 more robberies have occurred this year compared to last, 159 more car thefts and 125 more burglaries, in only three weeks.”
LawEnforcementToday placed the blame for the skyrocketing crime squarely in the laps of Governor Cuomo and the state legislature. It’s not like the governor and legislators were blindsided by unfathomable consequences that no one could have foreseen; there were plenty of critics who pointed out the obvious pitfalls of the scheme and warned precisely — in vain, as it turned out — what would happen if the dangerous plan were implemented.
“I’ve read social-media posts, I’ve read editorials in newspapers who believe the new reforms are not that bad, because they only apply to non-serious crimes,” said New York State Senator Pam Helming, at a November 15, 2019 press conference supporting crime victims’ rights. “I challenge anyone who has this view to look at this list of crimes, to read the legislation and tell me that you believe that manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide and rape in the third degree are minor offenses. Tell me, how is promoting obscene sexual performances by a child a minor offense? How is that? How about arson in the third and fourth degrees, selling controlled substances near our schools? Making terrorist threats or committing burglary and robbery in the second degree?” All of those crimes, and more besides, are included under the law’s “non-serious” offenses that qualify the offenders for the Cuomo “get out of jail free” pass.
In addition to such obvious craziness, critics pointed out, New York City’s court system was already drowning in more than 1.2 million outstanding arrest warrants for people who failed to show up for court appearances.
Nevertheless, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat, decided to do the governor one better, and to jump out in front of him with a jailbird release of his own. In November 2019, the mayor announced a $12-million program to entice good behavior from criminal miscreants to show up for their appointed court dates by rewarding them with movie tickets, Mets tickets, cellphones, and gift cards from Applebee’s, McDonald’s, Subway, and Target.
The Cuomo-de Blasio schemes have not worked out so well for the law-abiding (whether working-class poor or middle class), but the criminal element sure loves them. “Cuomo for president!” Jose “Ca-tano” Jorge proclaimed in Spanish as he hustled out of Manhattan Supreme Court, on November 14, 2019. Jorge, a 47-year-old drug dealer who was being held without bond at Rikers Island and facing a possible 96 years in prison for multiple drug charges, including selling drugs to a man who died from an overdose, was overjoyed to be turned loose, along with several members of his drug crew. Jorge’s attorney attempted to hush up the accused felon, but the liberated gangster couldn’t repress his joy. “It’s in my heart man,” Jorge said in front of news cameras. “It’s in my heart, bro.” Prosecutors argued in vain that he is a flight risk; the judge insisted he had to let him go until his court date.
Among the many notorious cases of instant recidivism under the new justice “reform” is Tiffany Harris, who was arrested on December 28 for slapping three Orthodox Jewish women in the face on Hanukkah and yelling “F*** you, Jews!” She was charged with assault and a hate crime, then released without bail. The very next day she was arrested again for slugging another Jewish woman in the face.
But Tiffany Harris is a piker compared to career criminal Charles Barry, 56, who brags he “can’t be stopped” — and publicly thanks the Democrats for it. Barry’s criminal record reportedly includes six felony convictions, 87 misdemeanor convictions, and 21 skipped court hearings. He has served six sentences in state prison for drug dealing and grand larceny. He was arrested for the 140th time on February 19, 2020 for scamming a Belgian tourist on the New York City subway. But Barry was not in the least bit worried about the new charge, since he had already been arrested a total of seven times in New York City since Cuomo signed the bail reform law — and skated free each time. He brazenly crowed to a reporter: “I’m famous! I take $200, $300 a day of your money, cracker! You can’t stop me! Bail reform, it’s lit! It’s the Democrats! The Democrats know me and the Republicans fear me. You can’t touch me! I can’t be stopped!”
New York, however, does not have a monopoly on recidivist-reward insanity. Many of our cities have their own Charles Barry equivalents. In an online article last year entitled “Seattle Is Dying: Radical ‘Progressivism’ Is the Reason,” this writer reported on one Travis Berge, Seattle’s most notorious, in-your-face criminal. Berge, a 34-year-old “musician” and admitted methamphetamine abuser, has been arrested numerous times for disturbing the peace, theft, attempted rape, assault on police officers, resisting arrest, and more. A Seattle ABC News television program shows incidents from police body cams of various encounters where officers are attempting to arrest a violent and obviously high Berge, who screams, rages, spits on them, and attempts to bite them. During the interview, Berge is not only completely unapologetic about his criminal behavior, he is absolutely ebullient, ecstatic even, upon hearing that he rates among the Top 100 of the city’s most infamous offenders. He openly admits that he steals to feed his drug habit and says he tries to use meth “at least once a day.” Asked if he will continue his disruptive behavior, Berge exclaims, “Oh, I’m having a blast now. It’s so much fun!” He praises the so-called criminal justice system of Seattle. “They’ve really, like, exalted me,” he says, “and shown deference and love towards me.” Then, in a statement that indicts the city’s governing leaders even more than do the complaints of its citizens and police officers, Berge says: “I don’t feel like I’ll ever be arrested again. I haven’t been in jail for like a year and three months or so, you know.” All of this, he cheerfully explains, “definitely shows that I have conquered the criminal justice system.” Indeed, as have many other miscreants, thanks to the degenerates we have allowed to usurp control of our political system.
Even more serious than the case of Travis Berge was the case of California man Mason James Lira, who opened fire on police and deputies in San Luis Obispo County on June 11, 2020, wounding three officers and killing a fourth man. Lira was killed by return fire from police. He reportedly had previous arrests and had been arrested in May for making terrorist threats in Monterrey County.
Demonizing the Police
As if the danger posed by criminals who know the system is rigged in their favor is not bad enough, police officers today are facing an intensity of vilification from politicians, radical activists, the media, and the public that exceeds even the viciousness of attacks leveled at law enforcement following previous incidents such as those involving Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown.
At a June 9 press conference, president of the New York Association of Police Benevolent Associations Mike O’Meara defiantly delivered a passionate defense of the police and denounced as “disgusting” the piling on by politicians and the media. “Everybody’s trying to shame us,” he said. “Legislators. The press. Everybody’s trying to shame us into being embarrassed of our profession.” Holding up his badge, and then gesturing to the rows of police officers behind him, he said, “You know what? This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it, and so do theirs.”
Referring to Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with killing George Floyd, O’Meara said: “We don’t condone Minneapolis. We roundly reject what he did as disgusting. It’s disgusting! It’s not what we do! It’s not what police officers do. I am not Derek Chauvin; they are not him! He killed someone. We didn’t! We are restrained.” He noted that, nationally, police officers have 375 million interactions with individuals each year and most of them are “overwhelmingly positive.”
Three-hundred-seventy-five million interactions, with most being “overwhelmingly positive”! Yet, the politicians and the media bloviators who ritually absolve the rioting with the blanket claim that “the vast majority of protesters are peaceful,” have no problem defaming the vast majority of heroic police officers who are standing between us and chaos.
This article originally appeared in the July 6, 2020 print edition of The New American. The New American publishes a print magazine twice a month, covering issues such as politics, money, foreign policy, environment, culture, and technology. To subscribe, click here.
Courtesy of The New American