Duane Smith | The Death of Lawlessness

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Two years ago, I took one of my daughters to Venice Beach, for her 15th birthday. Venice is ground zero for the eclectic energy and culture that makes L.A. one of the most diverse and progressive experiences found anywhere in the world. Venice did not fail us! While waiting at a stop sign so we could pass into the beach area, a naked woman walked up to a palm tree, alongside my car, my daughter’s side, her window down…and lit the tree on fire. The arsonist casually strolled away as the tree erupted into a massive blaze. My 15-year-old birthday girl in perplexed disbelief said, “Dad how did that just happen?” 

Now, two years later, I have an answer: “Because of the death of lawlessness in Los Angeles.”

Lawlessness is being systemically terminated in Los Angeles, but not in the traditional sense.

The leadership of L.A. is extinguishing lawlessness by simply ignoring laws and erasing consequences. The death of lawlessness is spotlighted daily. In a recent press conference regarding the murder of Brianna Kupfer, L.A. Police Chief Michael Moore said, “This has been a tough week in Los Angeles…beginning with the loss of our officer Fernando Arroyos, followed by Brianna’s murder…also the murder of a 70-year-old woman as she stood at a bus stop…and, we also have a 16-year-old whose body was ‘cruelly dumped’ alongside the 110 freeway last week.” 

Not only has it been a tough week, it’s been a couple of extremely dark years in Los Angeles!

Once-considered-illegal behaviors (like but not limited to, public nudity and arson, theft, assault, smash-and-grab-mobbing, home invasions, etc.) by default have become attributes that define life in the City of Angels. The end of lawlessness is stealthy and systemic in scope. On just a base level, the death of lawlessness is prominently displayed in three seemingly inconsequential areas that have become attributes redefining the landscape of L.A. County. Just speeding, littering and graffiti testify to the effectiveness of L.A.’s leadership in terminating lawlessness.

Speeding has become the standard for traffic flow, 75-80 mph, everywhere! For the most part, police know to avoid citizen conflict. So, street racers fly by those speeding too slowly, with little worry of consequences. The challenge of safe freeway travel is often increased in the inner city, by the growing number of pedestrians boldly pushing grocery carts on freeways to and from homeless camps. 

The travel scenery in L.A. is equally ominous. Trash is the decor of L.A. Freeways, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, gutters, parks, neighborhoods, mountains, beaches and most recently train tracks are active trash dumps. The freedom to dump, including public defecation, has become just another attribute of L.A.! And, littering is not the only environmental compromise. Once upon a time, the markings of “urban artists” were confined to their own neighborhoods. Now graffiti is everywhere!

Urban artists freely deface any surface they desire to claim as their own. Alleys, overpasses, bus stops, billboards, street signs, private property, rural communities, parks, mountains and beaches… all declare loudly, “the death of lawlessness,” with words that cannot even be read. Considering littering and graffiti, I wonder how L.A. leadership negotiates the direct impact on our environment? How can it be that the greatest of all virtues in California, “the worship of Mother Earth,” and “the gospel of green,” could take second stage to anything at all? Could it be that the death of lawlessness, becoming the unspoken law of the land, is more sacred than the land itself?

In the name of progress, in only two years, much of L.A. has become unrecognizable. But, once upon a time in L.A., only the little people, regular citizens, had to negotiate lawlessness! However, as the City Council of Beverly Hills recently acknowledged, voting has consequences! As a result, the Beverly Hills council has voted unanimously to recall L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, the executioner of lawlessness! It appears that the death of lawlessness has burst the boundaries of privilege. Let’s pray so.

If our leadership continues to celebrate the death of lawlessness, what will L.A. look like in 2023? 

Duane Smith

Agua Dulce

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