California Governor Gavin Newsom apologized for calling a group of cargo train thieves ‘gangs of people’ and — fearing the term was offensive — clarified the criminals were actually ‘organized groups’ of people traveling from place to place.
‘This is not one-off. This is organized theft. These are organized gangs of people that are coming out,’ Newsom said during a Los Angeles news conference Thursday, before clarifying: ‘Forgive me for saying “gangs” — that’s not a pejorative.
‘They’re organized groups of folks that move from site to site.’
The woke Democrat also likened the site of the freight train package thefts to a shanty town exclaiming: ‘It looked like a third world country, these images, the drone images that were on the nightly news.
‘I took off the suit and tie and said I’m coming because I couldn’t take it,’ he added. ‘I can’t turn on the news anymore. What the hell is going on?’
Newsom’s commentary comes as thieves are targeting freight cards as they leave a packing depot, nabbing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods – including COVID tests – many of which are quickly discarded by the side of the railroad tracks.
Although he announced a multiagency effort to clean-up the tracks, hold the thieves accountable and attempt to deter theft, Newsom was met with backlash over his comments with some critics mocking the irony of his apology.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (pictured Thursday) apologized for calling a group of cargo train thieves ‘gangs of people’ and — fearing the term was offensive — clarified the criminals were actually ‘organized groups’ of people traveling from place to place
Newsom’s commentary comes as thieves are targeting freight cards as they leave a packing depot, nabbing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods – including COVID tests – many of which are quickly discarded by the side of the railroad tracks
‘Gov. Gavin Newsom is an idiot. He called LA area a ‘Third World Country’ because of ‘Gangs’, then apologizes for calling them gangs!’ wrote Twitter user @CJ4America.
‘Hahaha the most Newsom thing ever – pretending to get mad about crime increase but then apologizing for using the word “gangs,”‘ echoed @TrajanSF who apparently resides in San Francisco.
Some blasted the governor for even having the ‘audacity’ to compare Los Angeles to a third-world nation, while others alleged his policies were responsible for the appearance.
‘Hello, Gavin Newsom: the term “Third world country” was replaced by “developing nation” like, 25 years ago,’ California-based political reporter Doug Sovern wrote.
‘Your own country is a s***hole, people are acting like a bunch of uncivilized a**holes, and still you have the audacity to call other countries as “Third World Country” Gavin Newsom,’ @sidduu96 added.
‘Gavin Newsom now thinks California looks like a third world country…’ Republican congressional candidate Errol Webber tweeted. ‘He’s the one who made it this way!’
‘Yesterday in LA Gavin Newsom said “we look like a third-world country.” The definition of a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth,’ echoed state Rep. Kevin Kiley.
Actor Nick Searcy argued Newsom’s comparison was accurate, but also the result of his own actions: ‘Los Angeles is a third world country. Thanks, Gavin Newsom Democrats!’
Although he announced a multiagency effort to clean-up the tracks, hold the thieves accountable and attempt to deter theft, Newsom was met with backlash over his comments with some critics mocking the irony of his apology
Newsom is promising statewide coordination as law enforcement and prosecutors go after the scoundrels who’ve been targeting near downtown Los Angeles for months, leaving the tracks blanketed with the litter.
The governor on Thursday, dressed in a T-shirt, baseball cap and coronavirus mask, joined a crew from the state Department of Transportation filling dozens of trash bags with crushed cardboard from packages stolen on their way from retailers to people across the US.
Last week TV news stations aired overhead video showing thousands of boxes strewn by thieves along a Union Pacific rail line northeast of downtown in the Lincoln Park area. Footage from NBC4 showed two men, one holding what looked like bolt cutters, walking along the tracks.
The governor said his new budget proposal includes funds to expand the Organized Retail Theft Task Force created last year when Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities saw organized groups of roving thieves carrying out smash-and-grab robberies at retail stores.
The train thieves are equally organized and need to be prosecuted as such, Newsom said.
‘These folks are arrested as if they are individuals that are not going connected to the whole, and we need to change that,’ he said.
‘How do we make sure we don’t have to keep coming back?’ Newsom asked. ‘How do we secure this site? How do we do a better job in making sure that this doesn’t have to continue to happen? This is the supply chain. I know all of us are focused down on the water, it’s so damn beautiful, and everybody’s just focused on containers at the ports, the supply chain.’
Newsom (pictured on Thursday aiding with clean-up efforts) is promising statewide coordination as law enforcement and prosecutors go after the scoundrels who’ve been targeting near downtown Los Angeles for months, leaving the tracks blanketed with the litter
Crews continue to clear debris from Union Pacific train tracks where cargo cars were looted
Newsom said that much of the garbage represented Christmas gifts that were never delivered to their intended recipients because of thefts.
At least 280 arrests have been made in connection with the train thefts, he added. But he didn’t know over what period the arrests occurred or where they are in the prosecution process.
Union Pacific, in charge of security along its tracks, has made cuts to its private police force. They would not say how many agents they have, but acknowledged thefts have jumped 160 percent since December 2020.
The soft-on-crime policies of Newsom and Los Angeles DA George Gascon have come under fire and been blamed for the mess.
In December, Union Pacific sent a letter to Gascón urging more aggressive prosecutions for cargo thieves and calling for an end to a no-bail policy for some defendants aimed at reducing overcrowding at jails during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than twenty-four hours. Criminals boast to our officers that charges will be pled down to simple trespassing – which bears no serious consequence,’ the letter said.
A statewide policy of imposing $0 bail for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies ended in 2020, but it was kept in place within the LA County Superior Court system. Republicans have repeatedly called for an end to zero-bail.
‘Criminals know how to exploit California’s policies for their gain,’ said state Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, whose district includes northern LA County.
Newsom, center, speaks to reporters Thursday while visiting the site
Newsom has been involved in several cleanup projects recently, including this homeless encampment in San Diego on January 12
Gascón’s office said it was ‘committed to working with law enforcement to ensure collective safety across Los Angeles County´s sprawling infrastructure, whether it´s at our ports or on railroad tracks.’
‘Some cases presented to our office by Union Pacific have been filed, such as burglary and grand theft, while others have been declined due to insufficient evidence. We make charging decisions based on the evidence. Our office takes Union Pacific´s concerns seriously and hopes to discuss this issue more in the coming weeks,’ said Alex Bastian, Special Advisor to Gascón.
A group of Republican U.S. Representatives on Thursday sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for federal assistance in cracking down on thefts that have disrupted the supply chain.
The California Highway Patrol said it was expanding its own retail theft task force that will allow it to beef up patrols and better coordinate with police, the sheriff’s department and Union Pacific’s security force. Union Pacific and other railroad firms employ their own police forces accredited by the state to protect its rail lines.
CHP Captain Charlie Sampson said the task force’s expansion will allow for more patrol officers and investigators.
‘We’ve already assigned the personnel for it, and the commander that’s going to oversee it,’ Sampson said. ‘And it’s going to be a full time effort.’
On Wednesday, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said a specialized unit within his department that focused on cargo thefts was eliminated because of funding cuts.
He said his office, along with Union Pacific and federal agencies, are working on a plan to add more security and patrols along the tracks.