Democratic California political leaders have remained silent on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comment appearing to doubt the existence of smash-and-grab robberies.
“We have to talk about specifics because, for example, we’re actually seeing a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Times in an interview last week. “I believe it’s a Walgreens in California cited it, but the data didn’t back it up.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks during a news conference in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 3, 2021. The news conference was held to urge Congress to provide nearly $400,000 to Jacobi Hospital’s youth violence reduction program – Stand Up to Violence. Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Fox News reached out to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press team, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s communication’s director, Sen. Alex Padilla’s press secretary, as well as Mayor London Breed’s and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s respective press teams. Fox News did not receive any response on whether the elected officials agreed with Ocasio-Cortez’s comment.
Republican politicians and business leaders, however, have been vocal in their condemnation of the New York Democrat’s remarks in light of the repeated smash-and-grab crimes that are rocking California.
“I don’t know what data she is talking about,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican, told the Washington Times.
“Respectfully, the Congresswoman has no idea what she is talking about. Both the data and stack of video evidence makes fairly clear that this is a growing problem in need of solutions,” Jason Brewer, Retail Industry Leaders Association senior executive vice president of communications, told the outlet. “If she is not concerned with organized theft and increasingly violent attacks on retail employees, she should just say that.”
Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks said Ocasio-Cortez’s comments were “tone-deaf and offensive” to the family of Oakland security guard Kevin Nishita. The former San Jose police officer was shot and killed in November while defending a news crew reporting on a smash-and-grab crime.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office told Fox News on Monday that the congresswoman was referring to a San Francisco Chronicle article from October titled, “What Walgreens isn’t saying: Store closures show a strategic shift to survive in the age of Amazon,” when she made the remark.
The article reported on multiple Walgreens closings in San Francisco, and how Amazon’s growth during the pandemic likely played a role in such closures.
Walgreens told the Washington Times last week that “organized retail crime is one of the top challenges” the company faces, and that the issue “has evolved beyond shoplifting and petty theft to the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods online.”
California has faced repeated smash-and-grab incidents since November, with most of the crimes unfolding in and near Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Mobs of thieves ransacked at least two dozen San Francisco area businesses over one weekend last month, high-end stores such as Nordstrom and Apple have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise stolen and damages to stores, and malls in the state are grappling with increasing security.
Newsom has also called on mayors to “step up” and hold perpetrators to account over the crimes. He also increased California Highway Patrol’s presence along highways near shopping destinations.
“If people are breaking in, people stealing your property, they need to be arrested. Police need to arrest them. Prosecutors need to prosecute them. Judges need to hold people accountable for breaking the law,” Newsom said last week. “These are not victimless crimes, and I have no empathy for these criminal elements.”
Police union leaders in the state have pinned blame for the smash-and-grab incidents on the ACLU for its support of Proposition 47. Under Proposition 47, passed in 2014, shoplifting charges regarding the theft of $950 or less were lowered from felonies to misdemeanors.
“San Francisco voters were lied to by the ACLU. Voters were told that prosecuting thieves was really a racist attack on people of color whose only real crime was poverty. So Proposition 47, the so-called Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, lowered felonies to misdemeanors for theft of goods valued at $950 dollars or less,” San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya told Fox News Digital last week.
“Talk about rolling out the red carpet for criminals, these smash-and-grab thieves aren’t stealing groceries to feed their families, they are ransacking and clearing out high-end stores to sell those goods to the highest bidder to fuel their criminal behavior or their drug habits.”