Several Democrats have turned on members of their own party for dismissing rising crime and violence, criticizing their rhetoric and policy positions.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently dismissed concerns over “smash-and-grab” robberies, claiming that the trend was largely fictional as “a lot of these allegations of organized retail theft are not actually panning out,” in an interview with The Washington Times.
“I believe it’s a Walgreens in California that cited it, but the data didn’t back it up,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Similarly, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, brushed off record homicide rates in a press conference Monday, assuring tourists and residents that they should feel safe in the city.
“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” Krasner said.
Michael Nutter, former Democratic mayor of Philadelphia, slammed Krasner for his comments in a Dec. 8 op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I’d like to ask Krasner: How many more Black and brown people, and others, would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a ‘crisis’?’” Nutter wrote. “How many more children and teens have to die in record numbers to capture your attention, and be considered a ‘crisis’?’”
Former Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind made a similar point regarding Ocasio-Cortez on Fox News on Monday, chastising the New York congresswoman for what he saw as callous remarks.
“AOC doesn’t care about victims. She cares about the criminals,” Hikind told Fox News.
“All she’s interested is defund the police, close the prisons down, defund the prisons,” he added. “I think it’s time to defund AOC. She’s a danger. I really think she’s a danger. These crimes that are being committed, there are real victims out there.”
The criticisms echo a refrain from more moderate Democrats, who have grown frustrated with their party for failing to recognize — and properly address — skyrocketing crime.
Newly-elected New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a Democrat, lambasted the party for ignoring the increase in violence in the lead-up to his election win.
“You’re seeing a Democratic Party, basically they’ve thrown up their hands,” Adams said. “We’re continuing to see the same problems in our inner cities.”
Adams also rebuffed calls from Black Lives Matter activists to disband a plainclothes division of the New York Police Department.
“This is going to be a city where we are going to be safe. We are going to have effective policing that is not heavy-handed,” Adams told reporters in early November. “We’re going to have the backs of our police officers, we’re going to hold them accountable to do their job.”
Seasoned Democratic political operatives are echoing these sentiments, pointing to the party’s struggles at the ballot box and with public opinion.
Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic consultant, told The Hill that many Democrats “don’t understand that crime and disorder are unacceptable to the entire population.”
Sheinkopf said this myopia could cost Democrats the House in 2022, arguing that the party can not afford to deny the crime problem any longer, the Hill reported.
“People will lie to pollsters and go into the voting booth and vote for the person they think is going to protect them,” Sheinkopf told the outlet.
Democrats in Congress have also begun to voice their frustrations with the crime problem, pointing to policies that they view as contributing to rising violence.
“It’s becoming more and more apparent that a lot of advantage is being taken with human behavior in the state. It’s criminal,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told The Washington Times in reference to California laws. “I think people are well aware of it and the legislature is well aware of it. And I would think that there may be some toughening of law.”
Similarly, Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told the outlet he backed “real tough law enforcement” in response to increased crime.
“You’ve got to make an example, and you have to have really strong accountability,” Cardin said. “So we need to capture, we need to track and capture those who are doing it and have very visible trials and punishment.”
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