The bitter fruit of the Defund the Police movement, which began in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent riots, has now ripened in major cities across the country. Aided and funded by George Soros’ Open Society, progressive district attorneys have, according to Whitney Tymas of the Justice and Safety PAC, been elected “to end tough policing and mass incarceration” and “to rectify and reimagine their role in the criminal legal system — not just as gatekeepers, but as active catalysts for change.”

Translated into the realities of ordinary people, this means that crimes like vandalism, robbery, and assault are seeing an uptick in major cities. Criminals are wagering that they will not be held or jailed for long if their crimes are deemed by progressive D.A.’s to be a petty crime. This is leading to a failure to engage in what Heather MacDonald has cited in her book The War on Cops as “Broken Window Policing” which holds that “allowing a neighborhood to become overrun by graffiti, litter, public drunkenness, and other forms of disorder breeds more crime by signaling that social control in the area has collapsed.”

This has proved true, as we have seen a spike in theft at convenience store chains who usually have a non-confrontation policy, but also at individually owned business whose livelihoods depend on their business. However, when police and D.A.’s have been reluctant to enforce what they consider minor infractions, individuals have had to step up and defend themselves and their livelihoods.

The Right to Defend Oneself and Property

In early July, Jose Alba a 51 year old bodega worker in Manhattan, was working  when an argument over a woman’s declined card turned deadly. The woman’s boyfriend, a man named Austin Simon and already on parole for assault, began arguing with, cornered and then assaulted Alba. As the two began tussling, Alba grabbed a knife he had stashed behind the candy rack and stabbed Simon several times and later died of his wounds. Even though this incident was, according to former criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Michael Discioarro, a clear “example of self-defense”, Alba was arrested and charged with Second-Degree Murder. He was held at Rikers prison on $500,000 bail, but after a huge public outcry, the charges against Alba were eventually dropped and he was released.

Earlier this month in Los Angels, an 80 year old liquor store owner named James Cope, had been warned by the local sheriff to be on the lookout for robbers. Seeing a black SUV back up to his store on his security cameras, he watched as a man entered his store with an assault-style rifle. Cope was ready and fired his shotgun at the robber, wounding him in the arm. The robbers sped away and were later apprehended when they checked into an Emergency Room. The police found a slew of stolen merchandise in the SUV.

Finally, this last week in Las Vegas Johnny Nguyen, the owner of a smoke shop, saw three men in ski masks enter his shop. He basically told them to just leave, as one robber holds the door open, another grabs the tip jar, while the third jumps over the counter. Nguyen, who had been already been robbed twice in the 10 months his store's been open, was afraid that the robber who jumped over the counter had a gun. Nguyen pulled out his pocket knife and stabbed the robber several times, and the robber can be seen in the security video footage going limp and crying out, “I’m dying, I’m dying!” Nguyen dragged the robber outside while he called the police and an ambulance. The robber (who allegedly was only 17)  actually calls his mother while bleeding from his wounds and yells into the phone, “This wasn’t my idea. Please don’t let me die!” The young thug did not die, and his other two companions were eventually caught and charged. Nguyen, said that despite his cool demeanor in the video, he was scared out of his mind, and he plans to get a gun for protection.

The Wages of Sin is Death

While none of these shootings got the kind of coverage that mass shootings by straight white deplorable men tend to get, they do highlight a few issues. The first is the fact that while the term “gun violence” gets tossed around all the time for maximum “if it bleeds it leads” effect, two of the aforementioned cases involved knives. A fact that proves just how dangerous they can be at close range, even than a firearm.

However, what is really striking about all of these crimes is the notion among the progressively-minded that it is one thing to defend one’s life, but property or merchandise? No. To some it is a clear sign of how oppressive our patriarchal and capitalistic society is that we accept the taking of someone's life in defense of things that can always be replaced. Whereas someone’s life cannot- hence the non-confrontation policy many stores have. There are two reasons why this way of think is both wrong and dangerous.

First off, if you allow robbers to rob your place once, especially in an urban setting, you are conditioning them to victimize you again and again. Which is precisely what has happened in cities like San Francisco when back in June the city decided it would not prosecute thefts under $1000. This of course resulted in thieves, like one guy on a bike, going into stores, loading up on $999 worth of loot and exiting while security guards stand by and do nothing.

Secondly, in regards to the quandary of whether it is really worth killing someone over a small amount of money or some merchandise, it is a question I was once asked in a rather tense situation. Years ago when I helped make ends meet by bouncing bar, my coworkers and I had to forcefully show a pair of men who refused to finish their drinks and leave at closing time, despite having given them ample warning that we would be closing. Before we shut the door on him, he yelled at me that he wanted his money back, and when we refused he asked me if I was willing to get the crap kicked out of me or “worse” over a $7 drink. We called the police and let them sort it out. But had I been inclined to answer, I would’ve retorted, “Are you really willing to threaten, assault or kill someone, in front of all these witnesses, and risking prison, over a $7 drink?”

And herein lies the crux of the issue of the value of someone’s life versus the value of merchandise. The question can just as easily be turned around on any left-leaning interlocutor by saying, “Is it really worth risking your life over items that could easily (and legally) be obtained in other ways?” After all, at some level all of the thieves in the above stories must’ve known that there was a reasonably high chance that their targets might be armed. But they weighed whatever chances they were able to and went along with the robbery anyways; demonstrating (knowingly or not) that they did not place a very high premium on their own lives.

St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that “the wages of sin is death.” Of course he is speaking about a spiritual death that kills the life of the soul and separates us from God, now or eternally. But in the natural order of things, the wages of sin (or robbery in all these cases) is to make the affirmative choice to accept the possibility of death. The death of your common sense, your conscience, your sense of self-worth, and as was the case with the Manhattan bodega thug, the your literal death. So yes, the Las Vegas punk was more right than he knew when he called out, “I’m dying, I’m dying!” For he was paying his share of the wages of sin and if you watch the security video footage and see how many times the kid was stabbed, he could’ve easily bled out and died. We can only hope that he will find people in his life that will teach him to call out to his father, both his biological and Heavenly one, to set him on the right path.

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