Why Black & Latino Democrats Are Standing Up To White Progressives On Crime, Drugs, & Homelessness
Black and Latino elected officials are standing up to white progressives, including mega-donor George Soros, and demanding an end to open drug scenes and rising urban chaos. Why now? And why them?
Over the last three decades, and particularly after Black Lives Matter protests, progressives have demanded sweeping changes to America’s criminal justice system in the name of racial justice, and understandably so. Police use greater force on black Americans than white Americans. African Americans are more likely to have their cars searched after traffic stops. And black Americans are more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder, rape, and drug crimes than white people.
But now, a growing number of black and Latino lawmakers are demanding crackdowns on crime and open drug scenes. In a long interview with the New York Times last week, San Francisco’s black mayor, London Breed, defended her crackdown on crime and criticized white progressives by name. In announcing her campaign to be mayor of Los Angeles, black Congresswoman Karen Bass said, “The bottom line is people will not be allowed to live on the streets.” And another L.A. mayoral candidate, Kevin de León, who is Latino, is attacking progressive homeless advocates for allegedly bribing homeless people to stay on the streets and not go into shelters.
Not all black and Latino Democrats are moving to the political center, nor are they just calling for law enforcement. The new district attorney of New York is black and has just announced measures to significantly reduce incarceration of lawbreakers for all but the most serious crimes. The black district attorney for Chicago has overseen sweeping measures to reduce incarceration, probation, and other consequences for breaking the law. And the progressive district attorney of Austin, Texas is Latino and has similarly reduced consequences for criminal activity since taking office last year. Meanwhile, Bass, de León, and Breed have all called for a major expanded housing and services.
But more and more black and Latino elected officials and politicians, including ones who called for defunding the police and other progressive criminal justice measures just a few months ago, are now standing up to white progressives on a range of issues relating to crime and drugs. New Yorkers last year elected a black former police captain mayor on an agenda to crack down on crime including by returning to “stop-and-frisk” measures. Philadelphia’s black former mayor savaged the city’s white progressive district attorney for denying the city’s homicide crisis. And Chicago’s black mayor, Lori Lightfoot, requested more federal law enforcement officers to support the city’s overwhelmed police. Meanwhile, Bass and Breed have both called for the expanded use of shelter, not housing, as well as more law enforcement.
And the black and Latino Democrats aren’t advocating half-measures or mincing words. Both Bass and de León are promising to completely end homeless encampments. Chicago Mayor Lightfoot is attacking the city’s progressive district attorney. “In Cook County, there’s virtually no supervision nor any mandated community interventions,” she complained. “The Cook County electronic monitoring system is fundamentally broken in a way that is making our city unsafe.” And, said Breed, “A lot of people, like some members of the Board [of Supervisors], like [progressive District Attorney Chesa] Boudin, did not grow up in poverty in San Francisco. They did not grow up in these kinds of conditions. They have a theory as to what they believe based on their ideology. But they’re also white.”
Why is that? Why did so many black and Latino Democrats go from demanding sweeping progressive changes to policing, incarceration, and criminal justice reform to demanding sweeping crackdowns on drug dealing and homeless encampments? And why are they risking support from the progressives?