Safety of the Streets is Largely Gone

Which is sadly true in most of the urban areas of our country and it isn’t until you get into the outlying suburbs that it returns.

This article from City Journal is about this.

An excerpt.

“The bedrock attribute of a successful city district is that a person must feel personally safe and secure on the street among all these strangers,” wrote Jane Jacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs is revered as an urban prophet, but key facets of her prescription for how to keep streets safe and maintain thriving urban neighborhoods are increasingly being ignored in New York today.

Key to safe and thriving sidewalks is what Jacobs called “eyes on the street”: people taking an active interest in what’s happening around them. Citizen vigilance, she believed, was even more important than the police. Public peace, she wrote, was “kept primarily by an intricate, almost unconscious network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforced by the people themselves.” Some eyes on the street were more important than others—especially those belonging to local business owners. “Storekeepers and other small businessmen are typically strong proponents of peace and order themselves,” Jacobs observed. “They hate broken windows and holdups; they hate having customers made nervous about safety.”

As sensible as this sounds, we’re not practicing it today with anywhere near the breadth and consistency that we should. Instead of policing the sidewalk in front of their establishments, shopkeepers have been reduced to hapless bystanders, begging for someone to help them deal with aggressive, mentally ill vagrants, who accost their customers, camp out in front of their establishments, and urinate in the street. Families visit New York and take their kids to Times Square, where naked ladies—and at least one naked cowboy—hit them up for cash. Young boys have eyes on that street, I’m sure.

The New York Times recently profiled an Upper West Side street vendor who puts out as many as ten tables of books to sell on the sidewalk. He even leaves his books out overnight, covering them in plastic. Neighbors have complained about him for more than a decade at local police precinct council meetings. He has received up to 200 summonses from the police, frequently getting them dismissed—and even collecting $80,000 from countersuits that he filed about improper summonses. His real business appears to be trolling for reasons to sue the city.

How can these people operate without any sort of permit? We’re solemnly told that all this is constitutionally protected behavior. Naked ladies, the mentally ill panhandlers cursing at women on the sidewalk, and street vendors without permits taking up over a block of sidewalk frontage have their rights. There is nothing to be done.

It’s not that social control over antisocial public behavior has broken down. Nor is it purely a legal matter. Rather, social control over anti-social behavior is becoming delegitimized. Many urban boosters, in fact, cheer this development. Some even support decriminalization of certain illegal behavior, such as fare-jumping. It’s a strange inversion. Today, it’s aggressive panhandlers and touts who have become what Jacobs called “the natural proprietors” of the street. And they act like it. Other citizens, along with tourists and businesses, are forced to adapt to and comply with the standards that they set.

No wonder that, in New York as in other cities, a perception grows that disorder and unease are increasing on the streets. High-profile incidents—ranging from a mentally ill man hacking at a woman with a machete in Bryant Park to a knife-wielding man killed by the police in Midtown—increase the anxiety. No, New York is not going back to 1975. But it’s clear nonetheless that antisocial behavior is seeping into the mainstream. For example, there’s an epidemic of “box blocking”—stopping in intersections—including by the city’s own bus drivers, often directly in full view of traffic control agents. I’ve often seen it happen myself.

Prison Radicalization

This has been a serious problem in our country since the 1960s, and this report in the New York Times indicates one method of addressing it.

An excerpt.

LONDON — Convicts in British prisons who preach terrorism and extreme ideology to fellow inmates will be held in high-security “specialist units,” the government announced on Monday, amid efforts to crack down on Islamic radicalization in jails.

The announcement reflects an emerging trend in Europe to isolate terrorism convicts and influential extremists from the rest of the prison population. Prisons are often regarded as potential breeding grounds for would-be terrorists, particularly for young offenders serving sentences for crimes unrelated to terrorism but who nonetheless fall under the spell of older, charismatic inmates.

Last week, Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s best-known Islamist activists, was found guilty of inviting support for the Islamic State. He could face a lengthy prison term.

“There are a small number of individuals, very subversive individuals, who do need to be held in separate units,” Elizabeth Truss, who took office last month as justice secretary and who made the announcement, told the BBC. Under the plan, prison wardens, or governors, will also be instructed to remove extremist literature and tighten the vetting of prison chaplains.

The announcement was in response to a government review of Islamist extremism in prisons, a summary of which was also published on Monday.

The review, led by a former prison governor, Ian Acheson, recommended placing in specialist units a “small subset of extremists who present a particular and enduring risk to national security through subversive behavior, beliefs and activities.”

Antiterrorism legislation passed after the July 7, 2005, bombings in London, which killed 56 people, including four bombers, criminalized “those who glorify terrorism, those involved in acts preparatory to terrorism and those who advocated it without being directly involved,” the review noted.

Incarceration Rates for Women

I posted on this earlier, but here are some more statistics from the book, Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics.

“Incarceration rates have increased much faster for women than for men, thanks largely to the war on drugs. In 2001, a woman’s chance of being sent to prison was six times greater than in 1974; for men, the increase was threefold. In 2012, about 7 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons were female, up from just 3 percent in 1970. Women constituted 13 percent of inmates held in local jails, nearly double the proportion held in the mid-1980s.

“After passage of the federal Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, with their stiff punishments for drug crimes, the number of women—especially black women—serving time for drug offenses in federal prisons soared, as did their length of sentence. Tough new drug laws at the state level likewise had a disparate impact on women, especially African-American women. Although the incarceration rate for black women has begun to decline with the recent waning of the war on drugs, it still stands at 333 per 100,000, far exceeding the overall incarceration rates for many other countries.

“In recent years, the number of women imprisoned for violent offenses and property offenses has increased substantially, mostly driven by growth in imprisonment among white and Hispanic women. For example, 80 percent of the women sentenced to prison in Ohio in fiscal 2013 were white, and many of them came from rural counties. Between 2000 and 2009, the incarceration rate increased by nearly half for white women and one-fifth for Latinas, while falling by about 12 percent for black women. The rising rates of contact with the criminal justice system for low-income white women are likely a consequence of the recent sharp deterioration in their health and social conditions.” (p. 122)

California Crime Increases due to “Prison Reform”

All too often the story, unintended consequences from policy driven by the uninformed, as reported by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

An excerpt.

GOVERNOR’S INMATE RELEASE LAW

INCREASED CRIME IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY

A report released today by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation found that a major contributor to the increased crime in Sacramento County last year were criminals no longer eligible for prison under a 2011 law touted by the Governor as a way to reduce prison overcrowding and improve public safety.

Data from the Sacramento County Probation Department indicate that offenders, released into Sacramento County under AB109, the “Public Safety Realignment” law, were arrested for over 12,000 crimes between October of that year and 2015.

Under Realignment, most felons released from state prison are designated as “low level” offenders and placed on county probation, termed by Realignment as Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS), rather than on much stricter state parole. When the more serious offenders released on state parole violate parole conditions, they can no longer be returned to prison. Instead, they receive short sentences in county jail followed by release to lighter supervision on PRCS. Offenders committing most new crimes, including auto theft, fraud, commercial burglary, assault, domestic violence and drug offenses, cannot be sentenced to prison no matter how many times they commit these crimes. Like parole violators, they can only be sentenced to time in county jail followed by release on PRCS.

According to the report, of the 5,269 offenders placed on PRCS, 2,371 (44.9%) were arrested for 7,578 felonies and 4,888 misdemeanors. More than 1,200 were arrested for violent felonies, such as rape, robbery and murder. Of the offenders convicted, 631 (over 51%) were for domestic violence, which under Realignment is not considered a serious enough crime to carry a prison sentence.

“Sacramento is a medium-sized California county with diverse demographics and strong police and prosecution agencies. According to preliminary FBI data, the county suffered a 25% increase in crime during the first six months of 2015,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford. “Because Realignment does not require the state to keep track of criminals placed on PRCS, analysis of its impact must be done one county at a time. Federal and state data confirm that significant increases in crime occurred virtually everywhere in California last year, which suggests that Sacramento County’s experience is not unique. Our review found that most, if not all, of the county’s increase appears to be the result of Realignment leaving over 5,000 criminals in the county under light supervision until they committed new crimes violent enough to qualify for a prison sentence. Once again the Governor’s promises have turned out to be false, and law-abiding Californians are paying the price,” he added.

 

Women Deacons

Excellent article in America Magazine about this issue, timely as the Holy Father has appointed a commission to study the issue.

An excerpt.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae,” wrote St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:1). What did Paul mean when he referred to Phoebe as a deacon? What kind of diakonos was she? How did she serve the church? Was she ordained as a deacon? And if so, what did her ordination mean? These questions, which may once have seemed arcane, have taken on greater urgency in the wake of Pope Francis’ recent decision to appoint a commission to study the historicity of women deacons.

We should note that the ordination of women to the priesthood is not under consideration. In “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” the apostolic letter promulgated by St. John Paul II in 1994, which Pope Francis has endorsed on several occasions, the late pontiff declared “definitively” that only men can be ordained to the priesthood. While St. John Paul II made no definitive pronouncement on the separate question of women deacons, the apostolic letter forestalled consideration of the issue in some quarters out of concern that discussion of women deacons would inevitably lead to talk of the ordination of women to the priesthood. We welcome Pope Francis’ decision to reopen the question of women deacons, which manifests his faith in the Holy Spirit to guide the discernment of the people of God.

This is not the first time in recent history that the Vatican has examined the role of deacons. In 2002 the International Theological Commission concluded a study of the diaconate that included commentary specific to women deacons. For example, the document concluded that in Phoebe’s case, the Greek word diakonos was meant in the broadest sense, as “one who serves.” The commission noted that “the deaconesses mentioned in the tradition of the ancient Church—as evidenced by the rite of institution and the functions they exercised—were not purely and simply equivalent to the [male] deacons.”

At the same time, the commission said that “there is a clear distinction between the ministries of the bishop and the priests on the one hand and the diaconal ministry on the other.” In other words, while all three are sacred orders, essential differences among them may allow for women deacons. In the words of Bishop Emil Wcela (see America, 10/1/12), the commission left “the ordination of women to the diaconate an open question.”

The question took a new turn in May, when a woman religious asked Pope Francis about women deacons during a meeting with the heads of women’s religious orders from around the world. The pope in his response promised to set up a commission, whose members were appointed in July. Among them is the scholar Phyllis Zagano, author of Holy Saturdays: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church. 

Professor Zagano’s book considers the historical evidence of women deacons, much of which might surprise many Catholics. As she wrote in America in 2003 (see Vantage Point in this issue, page 30), “While the work of women deacons—always rooted in the word, the liturgy and charity—differed regionally, the fact of women deacons is undeniable.” She is not the only reputable scholar to sift through the historical record. In their book Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J., sum up the ministries that women deacons performed in the Eastern churches: “Female deacons…exercised liturgical roles, supervised the lives of women faithful, provided ongoing care for women baptizands, and were seen going on pilgrimage and interacting with their own families and the general population in a variety of ways.”

Other scholars disagree, averring that diakonos, when applied to women in New Testament times and in the early church, was more likely to have referred to service in general, according to cultural norms for women at the time. Moreover, they argue, “ordination” ceremonies for women in the early church cannot be equated with the contemporary understanding of ordination.

As indispensable as it is, the historical data is neither wholly conclusive nor ultimately dispositive. The church’s discernment regarding women deacons must be guided, in the words of the International Theological Commission, by “a greater knowledge of both historical and theological sources, as well as of the current life of the Church” (emphasis added). We should also bear in mind this additional insight of the commission: “Nowhere did the [Second Vatican] Council claim that the form of the permanent diaconate which it was proposing was a restoration of a previous form…. Vatican II never aimed to do that. What it re-established was the principle of the permanent exercise of the diaconate, and not one particular form which the diaconate had taken in the past.”

This raises a question: If the church discerns in light of its reflection on the historical and theological data and the current life of the church that, at a minimum, it enjoys the freedom to admit women to the permanent diaconate, then should we do so? Yes, we should. What might that mean for the church today?

To begin with, while acknowledging the myriad ways in which women already serve the church, “ordaining women as deacons who have the necessary personal, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral qualities would give their indispensable role in the life of the church a new degree of official recognition, both of their ministry and of their direct connection to their diocesan bishop for assignments and faculties,” as Bishop Wcela has written. The church would be enriched by women’s leadership in its sacramental life. Like their male counterparts, women deacons could preside over some of the sacraments. Women deacons could preach at baptisms, weddings and funerals, providing the church with powerful models of women leading the community during some of life’s most important moments. That alone—the more complete inclusion of the voices of half the church in a sacramental setting—would be a great source of apostolic creativity and energy. While Pope Francis has said that ordained women deacons would not be permitted to preach at Mass, he has yet to offer a compelling reason why this must be so. It seems that if we are to have women deacons, then they should be permitted to perform all the functions that their male counterparts do.

It is also important to consider the possible ways that women deacons might serve as models for young women—and men. If it is true that some people have written off the church as a “patriarchal” institution, then imagine what it would mean to see a woman presiding at a liturgy. Many women in particular might feel more invited into a community in which the sacramental leadership includes them.

New Report Undermines Liberal CJ Narrative

As reported by the Washington Post.

An excerpt.

Throughout the presidential campaign season, both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have been excoriated for supporting the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which critics charge is fueling mass incarceration of African Americans. Defenders of the law, including Bill Clinton himself, maintain that it was a necessary response to rising violent crime and that it passed with substantial support from Black voters and elected officials. This heated debate about whether the 1994 law is responsible for African Americans increasingly being behind bars can never be resolved, for a reason that may surprise many observers: The African American imprisonment rate has been declining for many years. Indeed, the likelihood of African American men and women being in prison today is lower than it was a generation ago when the law was passed, as these two charts show.

The quarter-century of data in the charts come from the Bureau of Justice Statistics series of annual reports on the state and federal prison population. The rate of imprisonment of black men is in absolute terms consistently much higher than that of black women, but the shape of the two curves is remarkably similar. In the 1990s, the explosive growth in imprisonment that began in the mid-1970s was slowing but still underway, affecting people of all races but African Americans worst of all. But around the turn of the millennium, the African American imprisonment rate began declining year after year. Other government reports document that a parallel decline has occurred in the county and city jail population as well.

At the end of 2014, the African American male imprisonment rate had dropped to a level not seen since early 1993. The change for African American women is even more marked, with the 2014 imprisonment rate being the lowest point in the quarter-century of data available. It can’t be overemphasized that these are trends unique to blacks rather than being part of a broader pattern of de-incarceration: The white imprisonment rate has been rising rather than falling.

A 23 percent decline in the black male imprisonment rate and a 49 percent decline in the black female imprisonment rate would seem to warrant some serious attention. But if you point out to the average person or even a seasoned criminologist that the United States is at a more than 20-year low in the black incarceration rate, you are likely to be met with stunned silence. Why?

Psychological research shows that human beings are not particularly good at updating their assumptions about the world in light of new data (e.g., crime is getting worse or better, the economy is strong or weak), often leading them to ignore or discount any information that doesn’t fit their standing views. If for example you feel strongly that Michelle Alexander’s much-discussed book “The New Jim Crow” was the definitive statement on the state of black incarceration, you would probably have trouble taking in the fact that the black imprisonment rate had been falling for a decade prior to that book’s 2010 appearance and has continued to drop every year since.

Women in Jail Growth Rate Faster than Men’s

Validating a trend that has been developing for many years, as reported by the New York Times; and women have always been criminally involved but in the past courts more often than not allowed them to escape charges by implicating male cohorts.

An excerpt.

When Dolfinette Martin was convicted of shoplifting more than $700 worth of clothes in Louisiana in 2005, she had five children, no money and an addiction to cocaine.

Seven years later, in 2012, Ms. Martin became one of a growing number of impoverished women released from prisons and jails whose plight has been largely overlooked during continuing efforts to reverse mass incarceration, according to criminal justice experts.

“That cycle of poverty — not a lot of resources, not a lot of jobs, the lack of education, you kind of give up,” said Ms. Martin, 46, who now works as an administrative assistant.

On Wednesday, the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called the Safety and Justice Challenge released a report that found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons.

The study found that the number of women held in the nation’s 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.

(Over all, the nation’s jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from 157,000 in 1970.)

Much of the increase in the number of jailed women occurred in counties with fewer than 250,000 people, according to the study, places where just 1,700 women had been incarcerated in 1970. By 2014, however, that number had surged to 51,600, the report said.

And even as crime rates declined nationally, the trend toward jailing women in rural counties continued: Incarceration rates for women in sparsely populated counties rose to 140 per 100,000 in 2014 from 79 per 100,000 in 2000, the study found. During the same period, incarceration rates for women in the nation’s largest counties decreased to 71 per 100,000 from 76 per 100,000.

“Once a rarity, women are now held in jails in nearly every county — a stark contrast to 1970, when almost three-quarters of counties held not a single woman in jail,” the report said.

The counties with the highest rates of jailed women are nearly all rural and include Nevada County, Calif.; Floyd County, Ga.; and St. Charles Parish, La. Each has a population of fewer than 100,000 people but a rate of incarceration for women of more than 280 per 100,000, according to the Vera Institute.

Lutherans & Catholics Unified?

Can’t see the Lutherans ever accepting Peter Primacy, but the article says on the way to unity, not yet arrived there, as this article from Crux Now reports.

An excerpt.

Nearly 500 years after Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door, the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. has approved a declaration recognizing “there are no longer church-dividing issues” on many points with the Roman Catholic Church.

The “Declaration on the Way” was approved 931-9 by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly held last week at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton called the declaration “historic” in a statement released by the denomination following the Aug. 10 vote.

“Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity,” he said.

“This ‘Declaration on the Way’ helps us to realize more fully our unity in Christ with our Catholic partners, but it also serves to embolden our commitment to unity with all Christians,” Eaton said.

The declaration comes as the Lutheran and Catholic churches prepare to kick off a year of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther had touched off the Reformation on Oct. 31, 1517, when he nailed the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That document included 95 questions and propositions he wanted to debate within the Catholic Church.

Most notably, the “Declaration on the Way” includes 32 “Statements of Agreement” where Lutherans and Catholics no longer have church-dividing differences on issues of church, ministry and the Eucharist. Those statements previously had been affirmed by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

It also lists remaining differences between the two churches and next steps on addressing them.

Eaton pointed to past agreements reached by the ELCA and Catholic Church, as well, including 1999’s “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.”

Last November, Pope Francis sparked controversy when he seemed to suggest a Lutheran could receive Communion in the Catholic Church, saying “life is greater than explanations and interpretations.”

The pontiff is scheduled to visit Sweden on Oct. 31 to preside at a joint service with Lutherans.

Making Mass Transit Safe

Street criminals love unsupervised mass transit as it allows them access to a captive audience for theft and harassment.

Making mass transit safe involves following the example set by New York City and this article from City Journal gives a good look.

An excerpt.

At 10:20 PM on Sunday, September 2, 1990, 22-year-old Utah resident Brian Watkins, accompanied by his parents, brother, and sister-in-law, entered the New York City subway system in midtown Manhattan, intent on a short D-train trip uptown for dinner at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. They never got there. A group of teenagers surrounded Watkins and his family on the subway platform. They attacked Watkins’s parents, slashing his father’s pants open and hitting and kicking his mother. When Brian and his brother tried to defend them, the muggers plunged a knife into Brian’s chest, killing him. The murderers then fled to the nearby Roseland Ballroom, using money they had stolen from the Watkins family to buy tickets.

Watkins’s killing made national headlines. Time ran a cover story on “The Rotting of the Big Apple,” with its soon-to-be-famous image of the I ❤ NY logo with the heart split asunder. The event “summoned forth horror and soul-searching in a city that has already known too much of both,” People noted. Coming in the first year of David Dinkins’s mayoralty, the murder would help propel Rudolph Giuliani into the mayor’s office three years later, as Democratic voters turned to a Republican prosecutor to get a seemingly ungovernable city under control.

Yet Watkins’s death was not so unusual. His was the 18th killing in New York’s subways in 1990, and eight more would follow by the end of the year. The year before, underground assailants killed 20 people. Indeed, such violence was familiar already in 1981, when 14 lost their lives in the subways. Many considered these deaths an inevitable part of living in the big city. In 1985, for example, the New York Times blithely reported that the subways were safe enough, at least “for those who avoided the most dangerous stations, the ones with all the ramps and posts and connecting passageways in Midtown.”

By contrast, more than three decades later, New York really does have a safe subway system. Last year saw two subway murders, the same as the year before. Over the past 11 years, 26 people have been killed waiting for or riding on trains—matching the number killed just in 1990, the year of Watkins’s death. Today, few would worry that it might be unsafe to ride a train at 10:20 PM on the weekend. Trains at that time of night are packed with passengers.

Policing played a huge role in making Gotham’s subways safe, as it did in reducing crime throughout the city. In fact, the New York crime turnaround began in the subways, and what the police discovered about violence underground would prove essential to the broader battle for the city’s streets. The police could not have done it alone, though: in the decade before 1990, New York was already taking the first halting, yet critical, steps toward saving its subway system.

When I was eight years old, I used to ride the subway by myself,” recalls Ray Kelly, New York’s police commissioner under Dinkins and later again under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That was just after World War II, when subway crime was negligible. Kelly remembers, too, the “feeling of danger and disorder” that set in during the early 1970s.

By then, the whole system seemed to be crumbling into ruin, as budget-crunched state and city officials slashed maintenance costs. In 1974, the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the city subways, even stopped doing routine track inspections in an effort to save money—thus ensuring derailments, which began happening regularly. The trains were ever more decrepit, with 10 percent of the cars out of service every day, resulting in constant delays. “It was horrendous,” says David Gunn, who headed the subway system from 1984 to 1990. “The thing was a physical wreck,” he adds, with “each car breaking down every week.” In a recent speech to a Chicago audience, Tom Wright, president of New York’s Regional Plan Association, observed: “For folks who weren’t in New York back then, it’s hard to imagine today what the system was like. I was a kid in New York. Cars derailed on a daily basis, caught fire; you’d pull into the station and the doors wouldn’t open. Of course, everything was covered with graffiti.”

Violent crime began its seemingly inexorable rise. As late as the mid-1960s, subway murder was rare; during one stretch, only two people died over more than a year. In 1973, however, nine were killed. A year later, reacting to public alarm at higher violence, New York mayor Abe Beame decided to close the rear cars of subway trains, seeking to keep riders nearer to the conductor’s car, and presumably safer. Ceding space to robbers and killers proved an ineffective crime-fighting strategy, and the body count climbed. Most victims, like Watkins, were civilians, including Eric Kaminsky, a 22-year-old music student stabbed to death waiting for a train in Manhattan, and 32-year-old Jose Hugo Martinez, pushed to death from a platform in Queens. Transit workers and police lost their lives as well: in 1979, clerks Venezea Pendergast and Regina Reicherter burned to death when teens firebombed their Broad Channel (Queens) token booth; in separate incidents in 1980, transit cops Joseph Keegan and Seraphin Calabrese were murdered with their own guns at the busy Columbus Circle station when trying to apprehend lawbreakers.

By the time Bernhard Goetz made national headlines in 1984 for shooting four teenagers whom he claimed were menacing him on a Manhattan subway train, the public was on his side: a grand jury at first refused to indict him for attempted murder. Yet the growing outrage didn’t translate into safety gains. Gunn remembers another token-booth clerk killed when he was in charge—Mona Pierre, burned to death in 1988, in the third robbery attempt at her Bushwick station that year.

New Yorkers started shunning the subways. Between 1970 and 1980, annual ridership fell from nearly 1.3 billion trips to just over 1 billion, a percentage drop more than double the city’s 10 percent population loss. With no safe way to get around a dense city via public transportation, the New Yorkers who stayed began using their cars more, increasing congestion and pollution in a city getting harsher by the day. Richard Ravitch, who chaired the MTA from 1979 until 1983, recalls telling a reporter in 1980 that he wouldn’t let his 12-year-old son ride the trains at night; he came home to the preteen complaining, “You humiliated me.”

Even as subway violence intensified, the city and state had been putting conditions in place that would later prove crucial in the fight against crime. In 1984, Gunn and his boss, MTA chief Bob Kiley, made the decision to go after graffiti, which they saw as a symptom of the city’s disorder. For years, Mayor Ed Koch had urged transit bosses to clean graffiti from their trains. In 1981, the MTA had even deployed two guard dogs to scare potential taggers away from a train yard. New York also launched a public-service campaign, telling would-be train defacers to “make your mark in society, not on it.” The MTA repainted some train cars white, Gunn says, but “it was a stupid idea.” Transit officials would mix the clean white cars with dirty cars on the same train, so “you would have a pair of clean cars in the middle. You might as well have a sign that says, ‘Paint me next.’ ”…

Subway managers came up with a strategy: start with just two lines—the Number 4 and the Number 7—and clean the trains on those lines. And then keep them clean, washing and repainting to get rid of any new graffiti before trains could go out again, even at the expense of delays. This sent a clear message to vandals: spraying trains would no longer be worth the effort, since the MTA would never let customers see new graffiti. “It took 40 cans of paint and as much as 12 hours to complete a mural,” the New York Times reported a graffiti expert as saying. “Now it is hard even to snap a photograph before the work is cleaned off.”

Police also began cracking down on the vandals. Steve Mona was a “train buff growing up,” he says. He took the police exam and fortuitously “wound up in transit” in 1985, and soon had a new beat: keep tabs on the subways and see which graffiti tags appeared most frequently. “I would stop kids, and ask, ‘What does that say? Who is Jon156?’ ” He also started subscribing to graffiti zines. The city’s transit police (a separate force from the NYPD until 1995) eventually learned who was responsible for a disproportionate amount of the tagging and went after those people. “The narcotics mentality of ‘grab everyone, shake the net’ ” didn’t work in this context, Mona says. Instead, the vandal squad that he headed “would stake out homes, art shows,” looking for specific targets.

As Mona explains, the MTA’s new interest in combating graffiti made the police effort more effective. The district attorney’s office now had a graffiti victim, willing to testify: the MTA regularly sent witnesses to court, tallying up the damage from vandals so that prosecutors could pursue felony charges. “We had a built-in complainant,” Mona says. “The court could not look away from it.”…

The turnaround in the transit system accelerated in 1990, the year that William J. Bratton came to New York to head the transit cops, armed with sensible ideas from criminologist George Kelling. At the time, Kelling recalls, Kiley and Gunn, fresh from their graffiti victory, wanted to make the subway a safer, more welcoming place. They were frustrated by disorderly behavior such as aggressive panhandling, turnstile-jumping, and public urination—and frustrated, too, that the police seemed uninterested in doing anything about it. “The police would say, ‘We tried this and this, it didn’t work,’ ” says Kelling, “and Kiley blew up. He said, ‘We just invested $8 billion’ in new train cars and tracks. He was just sick. He couldn’t get any answers.”

Kelling was worried that the police, without the right strategy, would resort to “dirty work”—overly aggressive and perhaps illegal action to kick undesirable people out of the subways. Bratton and Kelling, who was consulting with the transit police, made clear that the cops would take the moral high ground, focusing on reducing illegal behavior underground and not on conditions. Homelessness was not a crime; jumping over a turnstile to avoid paying fare was. Going after illegal disorderly acts—what came to be known as Broken Windows or quality-of-life policing—would improve the lives of all New Yorkers who had to ride the trains to get around the city.

But before the laws against disorder could be enforced again, the public had to be warned. Every day, 250,000 people were beating the fare, Kelling notes, and “there were not 250,000 criminals—good people had got into bad habits.” They thought that the ride was not worth the money or they had gotten used to broken turnstiles, frequently disabled by thieves trying to take the valuable tokens. “You don’t want to arrest people, but the thing is to get them to stop,” says Kelling. The MTA launched a PR campaign to “warn people, educate people,” he adds.

Burning Cities

The recent riot in Milwaukee is a shocking reminder of the results of liberal ideology, as so well described in City Journal.

An excerpt.

The war on cops, ideological and sometimes lethal, may be expanding into a broader race war, in which only one side fights. The thugs who torched businesses and police cars, assaulted cops, and shot at firemen in northwestern Milwaukee on Saturday night went after “white bitches,” among other targets. (The riots were inspired by the fatal police shooting of Sylville K. Smith, a black man. Smith, who had an extensive arrest record, including for a shooting, fled from officers after a traffic stop while carrying a stolen handgun; he refused commands to drop the gun. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has activated the state’s National Guard and declared a state of emergency, but violence continued into Sunday night, with four officers injured, three squad cars damaged, and multiple businesses burned down.) The Black Lives Matter-inspired assassin who murdered five police officers in Dallas in July 2016 said that he wanted to kill white people, as well as white cops. The vitriol that officers working in urban areas now encounter on a daily basis is inflected with racism.

And if the war on cops escalates into more frequent attacks on whites and their perceived interests, the elite establishment will bear much of the blame. For the last two years, President Barack Obama has seized every opportunity to advise blacks that they are the victims of a racist criminal justice system. We should not be surprised when that belief, so constantly inflamed, erupts into violence.  Even in his remarks at the memorial service for the five murdered Dallas cops, Obama had the gall to trot out his usual racial vendetta against the police, even though he was fully on notice that cops were being killed because of it:

When African-Americans from all walks of life, from different communities across the country, voice a growing despair over what they perceive to be unequal treatment; when study after study shows that whites and people of color experience the criminal justice system differently, so that if you’re black, you’re more likely to be pulled over or searched or arrested, more likely to get longer sentences, more likely to get the death penalty for the same crime; when mothers and fathers raise their kids right and have “the talk” about how to respond if stopped by a police officer—“yes, sir,” “no, sir”—but still fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door, still fear that kids being stupid and not quite doing things right might end in tragedy—when all this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.

Obama’s indictment ignored, as usual, the astronomically higher rates of black crime that fully explain racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, Obama hasn’t uttered a word in condemnation of the lawless behavior in Milwaukee, two days into the events.

Hillary Clinton has been just as quick to enflame black hatred of cops and, by inevitable extension, of “white” society. She said during a January 2016 Democratic presidential debate that it was “reality” that police officers see black lives as “cheap,” adding that “there needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system.” (In fact, there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police; tens of thousands of black lives have been saved thanks to data-driven, proactive policing.) The July 2016 cop assassinations had no more deterrent effect on Clinton’s determination to keep anti-cop tensions at a boil than they did on President Obama. Speaking at the NAACP after the Baton Rouge assassinations, which followed the Dallas massacre, Clinton said that “we cannot rest until we root out implicit bias and stop the killings of African-Americans.” Showing herself to be as statistically challenged as Obama, she continued: “Let’s admit it, there is clear evidence that African-Americans are disproportionately killed in police incidents compared to any other group.” (Blacks are actually killed at a lower rate than their crime rates would predict. And at least four studies this year have shown that police officers are less likely to shoot blacks than whites, whether armed or unarmed.)

Last week, the Justice Department emitted yet another mendacious indictment of alleged cop racism, declaring the Baltimore Police Department guilty of a pattern or practice of systemic civil rights abuses. Baltimore officers accost and arrest blacks in Baltimore at higher rates than their proportion in the population, the Justice Department’s civil rights division wrote, carefully avoiding any notice of the crime that brings cops to black neighborhoods. The Justice Department report was ecstatically received in the media, and no doubt word of the confirmed racism of Baltimore police—and by extension, all police—trickled down into northwestern Milwaukee.

These nonstop rhetorical sorties against police officers and the criminal justice system inevitably expand into a broader indictment of the society that the criminal justice system defends. The Black Lives Matter riots of the last two years are inseparable from a hatred of what is perceived to be “white” society and civilization.

And as important as the political stoking of that hatred is the academic race industry that keeps black victimology at a fever pitch. The 2015–2016 school year saw an outbreak of delusional self-pity among black college students across the country. They claimed to be discriminated against by faculty, administrators, fellow students, and academic standards. Never mind that many allegedly disparaged students were attending the colleges in question only because of racial preferences, despite having test scores that would automatically disqualify white or Asian applicants. Never mind that nearly every waking hour of a college administrator is devoted to the cultivation of a separatist racial consciousness among black students and to dreaming up new racial sinecures for faculty and other administrators.

 

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