The father of a UCLA grad student, Brianna Kupfer, who was stabbed to death last week, is giving voice to the gut-wrenching human toll of the violent crime wave ravaging the nation — and the social and political forces enabling it.
“What’s endemic in our society right now is that everyone seems oriented on giving back rights and bestowing favor on people that rob others of their rights,” said the grieving dad on Fox News.
Brianna, a graduate student and design consultant, was found dead by a customer at the furniture store where she worked. On Wednesday, Los Angeles police identified her suspected killer, a 31-year-old career criminal named Shawn Laval Smith who was out on $1,000 bail for a misdemeanor. And many, like Brianna’s father Todd Kupfer, are tying her death to the policies of LA’s progressive DA, George Gascón, who has reduced incarceration and campaigned on no longer filing charges for offenses related to mental health, poverty, or homelessness.
How did we get here?
As is so often the case, there were good intentions at play — specifically, an attempt to correct a real ill. Back in the ’80s, in the midst of a crime wave fueled by the crack epidemic, Congress passed legislation that effectively criminalized being black. New laws imposed a 100 to 1 sentencing disparity for possessing or trafficking crack — which is cheaper and thus favored by poor people — versus powder cocaine — favored by the rich; the result was that over 80 percent of those imprisoned for crack were black. In 1994, with crime still on the rise, Bill Clinton passed a crime bill that imposed harsher prison sentences at the federal level, provided states with more money to build prisons, and escalated the war on drugs. Mass incarceration soon followed, disproportionately targeting black Americans. In the 2000s, New York’s police started to “stop and frisk” people they suspected of being criminals. Ninety percent of those stopped were black or Latino, and 70 percent of them innocent.
We now know better. President Obama reduced the disparity between crack and cocaine to 18 to 1. Stop and Frisk was ruled unconstitutional. And President Trump’s First Step Act was just the latest proof that ending mass incarceration now has bipartisan support.
But while we still have a way to go to ensure our criminal justice system treats everyone equally and fairly, progressives have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction and are currently in the midst of a massive — and deadly — overcorrection.
We are once again living through a spike in violent crime. The US murder rate rose 30 percent between 2019 and 2020, the biggest single-year increase in a hundred years. Aggravated assault rose too, by 12 percent. And 12 major cities broke annual homicide records in 2021, five of them surpassing 2020’s highs.
But while we once made the mistake of trying to solve crime with discriminatory over-policing and a war on drugs, progressives today are responding to spiking murder rates with the exact opposite mistake: Progressives are voting in district attorneys who campaign on not prosecuting crimes. Democratic politicians are ignoring the daily murders and robberies and carjackings of their poorest constituents. And when they aren’t totally erasing crime from view, leftist journalists and activists are routinely downplaying it. And in their attempt to right the wrongs of the past and protect the rights of the accused, progressives are erasing their victims.
Brianna’s father joins a long list of parents robbed of their children — many of them mourning little kids. 41 kids were killed in Philadelphia in 2021. 261 children were the victims of gunfire in Chicago. And they were four times as likely to be black than white. George Floyd’s 4-year-old niece, who marched for racial justice along with a nation horrified by her uncle’s murder by police, was shot in the torso while asleep in her bed. By the grace of God, she managed to survive a punctured lung and three cracked ribs. “Daddy, I’ve been hit,” she said to her father, waking up in a pool of blood.
Then there are the less deadly but highly publicized crimes — a spate of “smash and grabs” in luxury stores, people walking out of pharmacies with garbage bags full of stolen goods — that undermine the rule of law and the sense that following laws matters.
Where is the outrage? Where are the elected officials? Why is there nothing on liberal mainstream news channels about the epidemic of child murders?
“We have a lot of politicians that somehow forgot about people and think the key to getting elected is to support the lowest rung of our society and to give them rights and somehow that’s the answer to getting votes,” Todd Kupfer told Fox News.
He’s right: progressives aren’t just ignoring crime. They are voting for it — all but condoning it by electing district attorneys who promise a softer approach to prosecution. Progressive prosecutors like Gascón in Los Angeles, Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Alvin Bragg in Manhattan have all in their campaigns and their tenures emphasized pulling back on prosecution. Boudin campaigned on a “decarceration platform” and has made good on that promise: charges for theft and petty theft declined by double digits under his watch. Over in Chicago, Foxx dismissed all charges against nearly 30 percent of felony defendants in her first year in office. Foxx and Boudin both said shoplifters would only face misdemeanor charges for anything under $1,000 or $800 of theft. And in New York, Bragg ordered his prosecutors to stop seeking prison sentences for armed robberies, drug dealing, and even gun possession.
Moreover, bail reform efforts—desperately needed to combat the disparities faced by the poor versus the rich in the criminal justice system — have resulted in shocking recidivism rates. New data found that 23 percent New Yorkers placed on “supervised release” were rearrested for felonies, and another 18 percent for misdemeanors. Darrell Brooks, the Waukesha murderer who plowed his SUV into a Christmas parade, was out on bail after being charged with domestic abuse, disorderly conduct, and even bail jumping.
It’s not just crime. The progressive position today seems to be to take the side of the mentally ill over the poor residents whose neighborhoods and public transportation they sometimes terrorize. It’s to take the side of homeless encampments—rather than the poor children whose only greenery is now colonized by them.
High on the scent of their own virtue, rich white elites with acres of their own private property are voting in politicians and prosecutors who allow the homeless to rob poor children of their parks and beaches — the only outdoor space where they were they can play. People with two SUVs in their driveway are voting to allow mentally ill people to threaten working class people riding the subways and buses they themselves never use.
In the name of racial justice, progressives are sentencing poor black children to live in neighborhoods where bullets fly into their little beds.
It’s important for us as a society to insist that nonviolent drug offenses should not rob a young black man of his future. But it is equally important that we reject those who impose a veritable taboo on talking about crime when it’s committed by people from “marginalized communities” or in liberal bastions.
We must reject those who refuse to protect poor neighborhoods from career criminals preying on the most vulnerable. We must fight for the children of those who don’t have the luxury of living in gated communities with private police forces.
When we fail to, then their blood is on our hands.