Two criminal justice educators speak out of using the term “looting” when referring to groups of people entering luxury California retailers to steal goods – arguing the word is racist.
Lorenzo Boyd, a professor of criminal justice & community policing at the University of New Haven and a former police office, told ABC 7, “Looting is a term that we typically use when people of color or urban dwellers are doing something.”
Boyd continued, “we tend not to use that term for other people when they do the exact same thing.”
Martin Reynolds, co-executive director of the Robert C. Maynard Institute of Journalism Education, is also against using the term as it signals “the depiction of the flash mobs running roughshod through the aisles of Louis Vuitton and other retailers.”
“This seems like it’s an organized smash and grab robbery,’ Reynolds said. “This doesn’t seem like looting. We’re thinking of scenarios where first responders are completely overwhelmed. And folks often may be on their own.”
The U.K.’s Daily Mail reported on the semantics debate:
Their comments come after at least seven robberies involving gangs, with as many as 50 thieves ransacked California stores. Each individual could avoid heavy criminal charges due to the state’s 2014 law dictating that anyone caught shoplifting items whose value does not exceed $950 would be only charged with misdemeanors.
Some experts fear that the law is being abused by organized crime rings which might be the true masterminds behind the gang of thieves, paying the low-level criminals to commit mass crimes in exchange for a slap on the wrist.
The distinction in terminologies originates from the California penal code, which defines looting as ‘theft or burglary… during a ‘state of emergency,’ ‘local emergency’ or ‘evacuation order resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot or other natural or manmade disaster.’ The term ‘looting’ gained infamy when it was predominately used to describe black survivors of Hurricane Katrina who stole water and other basic goods from local stores to survive through the aftermath of the storm.
“No local or national emergency has been declared for the Bay Area, where much of the crime has taken place,” noted the Mail report.
Boyd argues the media uses of “looting” politicized the crime wave by associating it to the Rittenhouse case.
“These types of massive organized smash-and-grabs were happening before the Rittenhouse situation happened,” Boyd said. “It’s a false equivalency. It’s people trying to politicize crime.”
Both political and media critics expressed outrage over the apparent attempt by these experts and other WOKE media organizations to downplay the recent crime wave.
A Marine and Town Hall contributor, Julio Rosas, made a pun on Twitter: “Future CNN chyron: Mostly peaceful shopping in the Bay Area.”
Conservatives took to social media to debate the topic.
Dinesh D’Souza tweeted, “Experts refuse to call a spade a spade unless, of course, it’s a spade wielded by a white male.”
Ex-Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker cut to the chase: “It’s looting. Just like there were riots in Kenosha, not just protests.”
On Monday, California Gov Gavin Newsom (D) was forced to declare the state would get tough on lawbreakers, despite the 2014 law that barred prosecutors from charging suspected shoplifters with felonies.
“After Proposition 47 was approved by voters, anyone caught shoplifting items not exceeding $950 would be charged with misdemeanors,” the Mail reported. “But critics said the measure encouraged the rampant organized retail theft, with gangs of thieves filmed smashing glass cases at a jewelry store and snatching garments from upmarket yoga clothing brand Lululemon on Sunday — one day after others were filmed; swarming a drug store and stealing prescriptions.”