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Voters waking up to radical California crime laws in wake of Bay Area looting

A groundswell of
has started to push back against pro-crime laws that have caused out-of-control looting, such as what happened to a San Francisco-area Nordstrom and Luis Vuitton over the weekend.

Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike told the Washington Examiner that a 2014 law known as Prop. 47 helped create the crime surge in California by downgrading thefts under $950 to misdemeanors. This, combined with follow-up laws that removed jail as a punishment for non-felonies, created a crime wave that law enforcement cannot keep up with.

“As a Democrat, I believe in criminal justice reform. There are inequities in our system where we need to create a justice system for all. However, we have gone too far,” said California Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat. “The state of California has been doing it wrong. It needs to change.”


The pushback has been building for years as small family-owned businesses became the first looting victims. Then it was the Walgreens and CVS stores primarily in the San Francisco Bay area which had to either curtail hours or shutter altogether because theft was putting them out of business. Next came a brazen Macy’s burglary of pricey purses followed by last weekend’s
violent smash-and-grab
with crowbars and assaults.

John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, said he has been getting numerous messages from citizens who want a candidate to run in an Assembly race.

“We haven’t had a GOP run [in San Francisco] since 1973,” he said. “Voters wouldn’t even look at GOP candidates before. How many people in San Francisco can’t get a prescription where they normally did because Walgreens is closed? A leftist said he can’t get a COVID test because there is no pharmacy within walking district of his house.”

The Democratic proponents of Prop. 47 billed the measure as a “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” to downgrade a host of crimes and focus more attention on hardened criminals. It would also help clean out the prisons of nonviolent offenders, voters were told, and passed with 60{e421c4d081ed1e1efd2d9b9e397159b409f6f1af1639f2363bfecd2822ec732a} of the vote.

“The people who promoted this, they ran an absolutely deceptive campaign. Now, we are paying the price,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, a Republican. “This invited the very behavior that we now see. Criminals have now perfected this imperfect law to exploit the victims — which includes all of us.”

Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who ran against Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recent recall, said he is already starting to see blowback.

“There is a groundswell in the Bay Area against this law,” he said. “Anyone who is being honest sees this epidemic of retail theft for what it is. It’s the result of irrational laws that have legalized these types of crimes.”

Hurtado, Nielsen, and Kiley all say they have tried to start a dialogue in Sacramento within committees to fix Prop. 47 and other laws. Their pleas are ignored, and if anyone authors a bill, it dies in the committee. Hurtado said she has eight centrist Democrat colleagues who want to work on legislation, but they are too small of a minority to pass anything.


“We need to see more support for this type of justice reform from communities like San Francisco and LA,” she said. “When [constituents] speak up, stand up and reach out to their legislators, that’s when change will occur. It’s very difficult to get any type of bill tough on crime to make it through [committees] in the Senate or Assembly.”