Life Before Craigslist: On L.A. Weekly's Crime Features
1956 — Who’s Counting?
Re “Trust Us, It’s 1956,” by Patrick Range McDonald (April 29):
The comparisons to the ’50s are blatantly ridiculous. Now if [Chief Bill] Bratton had claimed that L.A. was safer than it’s been since 1986, rather than 1956, he would be more on the money. Murder is the hardest crime to cover up or remain unreported, and the incidence of murders is a good indicator of violent-crime trends as a whole. Based on that, Bratton has done a good job, but by no means is L.A. violent crime back to 1950s/’60s levels. I disagree with the article’s comment that the number of police doesn’t mean anything; more cops act as a deterrent. However, it would take about 20K officers, not 10K, to lower L.A. crime back to the levels of 40 years ago.
—Comment by MRP
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This is a really flawed article, a dramatic story lacking a motive. Everyone in law enforcement (and the courts, where I work) knows that the way law enforcement increases its funding is by claiming it needs more money to stop the increasing rate of crime. Scare the people, get more money — it is as simple as that, and always has been. The chief is saying that crime is down. The only thing that can follow from this is that his own budget will flatten out or decline. So what is the motive to lie about this?
—Comment by Joe, L.A.
Joe, Bratton has a good reason to be dishonest about this. His professional and political future depends on perception of him more than it does on how well the LAPD will be funded five years from now.
—Comment by Chris
In the first 114 days of 2009, guess how many people were victims of violent crime? The answer is 7,813 — 69 per day. During that same period, 28,876 people were victims of property crimes (e.g., burglary, grand theft auto), which works out to 253 people per day. Shooting victims: 409, which is four per day. Eighty-nine people were murdered, which is more than two people every three days. According to the LAPD’s own estimates, moreover, there are more than 40,000 gang members in the city. Now, do we really believe Villaraigosa has reduced crime? Or are we seeing the three-strikes laws, changing demographics, slow response times and witness intimidation produce voodoo statistics? Put another way, if this is 1956, then Wally and the Beaver were in a gang.
—Comment by Walter Moore, L.A.
Random ex-cop thoughts: I remember in the early ’70s when Chief Edward Davis said he needed 10,000 officers to police Los Angeles effectively. About 35 years later, we’re about to reach that number, probably about half what it should be given the population increase. New York has nearly four times as many officers as Los Angeles. I remember that 1980 was the first year that more than 1,000 murders were committed in the city of Los Angeles, and murders exceeded 1,000 in quite a few years in the ’80s and ’90s. So now that murders are in the 300s, is that not cause for some respect, instead of denigrating the crime-reduction efforts? The author mentions early in the article, then totally glosses over, that murders are as low now as 38 years ago.
—Comment by Greg Meyer, L.A.
Great story on the grand simulacra of media. For a moment I thought, Wow, let’s party like it’s 1956! Get out the bongos! Let’s read Howl by Ginsberg! We can chant, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked. ...” (Hmmm, maybe things weren’t so fun in the ’50s.) The artist Robert Williams told me when I interviewed him for my book Weirdo Deluxe that guys driving hot rods were regularly pulled over by the police and roughed up — as unsavory characters! Yes, it was a time of law and order, and nonconformist bohemian types were being put in nut houses — like Carl Solomon, Ginsberg’s pal, who, in the spirit of Dadaism, tossed some potato salad at a prof lecturing on Dadaism! Back then we had the commie witch hunts of the McCarthy era, fear and conformity and the rise of the corporate man in the gray-flannel suit ... but global warming, acidification of the oceans, clear-cutting rainforests, massive species extinction and bees not pollinating fruit trees anymore — all these were a ways off. In our age of high-speed electronic communication we’ve lost metanarratives, grand, overreaching ideas of society becoming a utopia.Perhaps Bratton is on to something.
—Comment by Matt Dukes Jordan, L.A.
Death by Craigslist
Re “But for Craigslist, Donna Might Be Alive Today,” by Spencer Kornhaber (May 6):
Gloria Allred is a media whore. This tragedy happened because that young woman met the wrong guy. It has nothing to do with the Web site! She could have met him through numerous Web sites, so to say this happened because of Craigslist is passing the buck because you don’t wanna say the girl made a decision that a lot of other women have, and it turned out horrible.
This never should have happened, but it’s certainly not Craig Newmark’s fault.
—Comment by Brenna, Pasadena
Let’s not forget that taking responsibility for one’s actions is not the American way. Blame must always be placed elsewhere, and if you can get some money for it, all the better. My best guess is Gloria Allred doesn’t work for free.
—Comment by Kevin, L.A.
I wonder if the same thing was said about telephones when they were invented.
—Comment by Jeff C., West Hollywood
Johanna Justin-Jinich, the young woman killed in Connecticut, met her killer at a university. Were it not for those trouble-causing universities, Johanna might be alive today.
—Comment by Freon, Simi Valley
It’s obvious why L.A. Weekly would publish this. Craigslist is really cutting into their classified-advertising revenue. Follow the money!
—Comment by Greg Hartman, Lompoc
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