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Emboldened criminals, progressives justice, Verber-Salazar & the SJ County DA election
smash grab
Shown is security footage from Iceberg Diamonds jewelers in the Sun Valley Mall, Concord, taken on Nov. 15.

San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber-Salazar has a problem.

It’s San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin that she has worked mightily to be joined at the hip with in the pursuit of progressive justice.

And it’s a problem that could spell big trouble for Verber Salazar in her bid for a third term in November 2022.

Much ado — and rightfully so — has been made about the surge of brazen organized smash and grabs of stores in San Francisco.

Thieves emboldened by the decriminalization of shoplifting that can be traced back to 2014 when California voters were convinced to approve a progressive ballot measure making thefts under $950 a misdemeanor are now commonplace in San Francisco. And what was once basically an “only-in-San Francisco” phenomenon as a reoccurring crime is now spreading southward and eastward in the Bay Area.

And as most SF trends go, it is only a matter of time before it surfaces in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

At the same time Los Angeles where former San Francisco DA George Gascon, the godfather of progressive justice California-style, is now that county’s district attorney is enjoying similar crimes.

Couple that with the $1,000 bail that a Wisconsin progressive DA allowed the suspect in the death of six people killed and injured 40 when an SUV mowed them down on a Christmas parade out of bail on domestic violence charges just days before and a lot of people are starting to feel the Defund the Police movement married with progressive justice is effectively declaring open season on law-abiding citizens.

It is what happens when the consequences on unlawful behavior are minimized across the board or, for all practical purposes, eliminated.

In San Joaquin County it has gotten to the point where those issued tickets for egregious violations that are the primary contributors to traffic accidents that kill and maim such as excessive speeding, running red lights, and such aren’t subject to punitive fines designed to make a dent in pocketbooks to try and change behavior if the system deems they are part of a disadvantaged economic community.

It is the equivalent of being issued a license to kill given you and I have an extremely higher chance of being killed, seriously injured, or suffering a major financial loss at the hands of strangers that engage in renegade driving behavior than we do from assaults, shooting, robberies, or burglaries.

In fairness to Verber-Salazar she didn’t start the fire but she sure is fanning it.

Much like the original Three Strikes movement, the progressive justice movement was on the right track. But just like the one-size-fits-all Three Strikes approach that sent someone to prison for seven years for stealing food, the progressive justice movement is going too far.

It is being applied wholesale to a lot of crimes when it comes to consequences including bail.

A prime example is domestic violence, a crime that ranks among the most deadly and a source of major injuries for both the victims and responding officers.

The $1,000 bail in Wisconsin for a man previously convicted for a list of serious crimes is just the tip of the iceberg.

A recall election has qualified for the ballot in San Francisco to remove Boudin for office.

It started long before smash and grabs became as commonplace in SF as fog rolling in or even brazen shoplifting that has made The City seemingly the leader for retail losses promoting chains to close or reduce stores.

Based on an analysis by an NBC station in the Bay Area, from October through December in 2020 San Francisco police officers arrested 131 people for felony domestic violence which means serious bodily injury or weapons such as guns and knives where used. Boudin’s office — under guidelines he imposed — dismissed 113 of those cases.

That means 86 percent of the arrests were tossed out.

And the Defund the Police movement has the audacity to say police officers aren’t doing their jobs. How about the progressive DAs that favor sending social workers armed only with an ink pen on the most deadliest category of calls for an officer to respond to — domestic violence.

This is not to say progressive justice doesn’t make sense when applied to a lot of situations. It’s just that the approach has to be tempered to the crime and the situation and not automatically assume it’s a question of society picking on disadvantaged individuals whether that is determined by income, skin tone, gender, age, ethnicity or whatever measure.

What hardcore progressive justice advocates are doing today is no different than throwing the book at those that smoked marijuana or stole a six-pack of beer from a neighborhood store. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There is a middle ground.

Verber-Salazar did herself no favors by jumping on the train.

It’s a shame given early on she was one of the few voices of reason in dealing with the madness surrounding homeless “crime.”  It is “crime” because homeless commit two types of crimes. They  are what could be called lifestyle crimes such as illegal camping and urinating in public that represent things they simply need to do to stay alive. Homeless also commit felonies and even misdemeanors that can run the gamut from theft to assault.

Given the cost of arresting, booking, and prosecuting the homeless for lifestyle crimes they have no choice but to commit in order to stay alive was running taxpayers close to $2,000 and the fines imposed by the courts the system had no chance of collecting to the financial status of the homeless, Verber-Salazar pushed heavily for diversion programs.

She is correct in that not doing diversions programs that have a much more stronger chance of breaking the cycle created a perpetual revolving door that cost taxpayers endless sums of money, jammed up the justice system from addressing more pressing crimes, and solved nothing.

Verber-Salazar wisely coupled that endeavor by having her office work jointly with police departments to target the top three or five homeliness individuals that create the most criminal impacts and undermine the quality of life in neighborhoods on a grand scale.

Perhaps the biggest sin committed by the progressive justice movement that assumes the system is stacked against minorities is the fact in states such as California where 60 percent of the population is classified as minorities, the criminals they are providing cover for prey primarily on minorities.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at