News & Politics

L.A. Times and LAPD Ignore the Realities of Crime in the City

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

It would be comical if the results weren’t so deadly and far-reaching.

A story in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times ran under the headline, “Inside an LAPD crime briefing: Homicides, ‘hood days’ and the ‘compounding’ violence.” Maybe, just maybe, I thought as I started reading, we’ll finally get some honest talk about crime in the L.A. Times. Silly me.

Times writer Kevin Rector was invited to attend one of LAPD Chief Michel Moore’s weekly command-level crime briefings, where it was pointed out to Police Commissioner Dale Bonner, one of the five members of the civilian commission, that homicides in the city are up 17% over 2020 and 49% over 2019.

Nowhere in the article—and we may assume it wasn’t discussed—is there mention of the biggest factor driving this surge in violence: the demoralization of police officers due to the craven political pandering that followed the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It’s astounding to see the intellectual contortions people are willing to twist themselves into so as to avoid discussing such an elemental problem. We are accustomed to such deliberate blindness in the pages of the L.A. Times, but it’s disconcerting to see it displayed among those in the top tier of the LAPD.

Are Chief Moore and his top lieutenants really so obtuse and blinded by racial politics as to be unaware of this problem, or was it rather a case of their feeling constrained from discussing it in the presence of a reporter from the L.A. Times? I suspect the latter, which is only slightly less troubling than the former.

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There was another example of tiptoeing around the obvious in the article. Much of L.A.’s violent crime is driven by the city’s gang culture, yet, according to the article, the topic was soft peddled and euphemized in the meeting of police brass. Street gangs in Los Angeles observe their “hood days” on the calendar date corresponding with their gang’s name. The 74 Hoovers, for example, celebrate on July 4, the Eight-tray Gangsters on August 3, and so on. On these “hood days,” hundreds of gang members gather in a park or some other venue, denying their use to the law-abiding members of the community. Incredibly, the Times article describes these events as “cultural gatherings and homecomings that local gangs hold on the same day each year.”

Let’s be clear: the “culture” of the gangs is one of murder and other criminality, without which Los Angeles would be a far more desirable place to live and work. Describing these “hood day” celebrations in such innocuous terms is an insult to those who live and work in these same neighborhoods yet avoid becoming involved in gangs. Yet, as evidenced by this article, the expression of moral opprobrium against this culture is too risky, too politically fraught, even at the highest levels of the LAPD.

Until this attitude is changed, until cops are free to speak the truth about what ails Los Angeles without fear of how they’ll be portrayed in the L.A. Times, the bodies will continue to pile up in the morgue. It’s not the least bit complicated, and it’s obvious to anyone willing to open his eyes.