The War on American Communities
Soft-on-crime policies result in terror and bloodshed.
Waukesha Parade incident attack crash mass casualty event 2021, Lightburst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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As children in Santa hats danced with pompoms during a Christmas parade through downtown Waukesha, Wisconsin, Darrell Brooks Jr. plowed into them with a red Ford Escape late last Sunday afternoon. Brooks, a 39-year-old black man, injured more than 40 people and killed at least six, including an 8-year-old boy, Jackson Sparks, who died due to brain injuries.
According to the police, Brooks intentionally drove his vehicle into the crowd. And although they claimed he might have been leaving the scene of a domestic disturbance, police also confirmed that they were not pursuing him at the time that he could have but didn’t turn down a side street that would have taken him around the event and smashed through parade barriers intended to block traffic. High-angle camera footage shows Brooks speed into the frame after penetrating the perimeter, slightly decelerating, then carefully steering his SUV into pedestrians. His social media posts present a range of extremist views, from encouraging “knocking out white people” and enslaving them to supporting Black Lives Matter, the Black Panther Party, and the Black Hebrew Israelites, a militant black supremacist hate group. In one of his rap songs, Brooks bragged about being a “terrorist” and a “killer in the city.”
After the incident, an utterly remorseless Brooks went to a stranger’s house and pretended to be a homeless man pleading for help. The homeowner invited him in, gave him a jacket, and made him a sandwich before police arrested Brooks on his front porch. Along with much of the media, Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson is essentially treating the incident as a mass casualty “accident.” Thompson, who has been reluctant to associate Brooks’ political views with the attack, helped organize a Black Lives Matter march where his officers kneeled with and praised protestors last year.
Brooks’ cross-country and decades-long criminal record should have permanently placed him behind bars years ago. He has been charged more than a dozen times for various crimes since 1999 and had outstanding cases against him when he struck at the parade. He is a living, breathing indictment of the soft-on-crime policies embraced by both political parties and a ruling class that endangers American communities for both ideological and cynical reasons.
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The USA TODAY Network confirmed late Monday that at the time of the incident in Wisconsin, Brooks had an outstanding warrant in Nevada. In 2016, police had arrested him there because he failed to obey sex offender laws. In a video, Brooks admitted to impregnating a minor and claimed to have become her pimp. Records show he posted bail but later failed to appear in court.
In Wisconsin, Brooks’ court records reveal a litany of charges. On Nov. 11, just days before he barreled into the parade, Brooks posted a $1,000 bond for an incident that occurred on Nov. 2. “I think my wife’s life and our children’s future are worth a lot more than $1,000,” said John Kulich to the Washington Post, whose wife, Jane, was among those killed by Brooks. Unfortunately, the advocates of criminal justice reform value it even less than that.
In July 2020, he was charged with two felony counts, second-degree recklessly endangering safety and possession of a firearm by a felon, after getting into a fight with a relative and then firing a gun at the relative and a friend. According to the Daily Mail, Brooks shot his nephew in a fight over an old cell phone. His bail was initially set at $10,000 and then reduced to $7,500. But after hearing arguments by Brooks’ attorney, Milwaukee County Judge David Feiss lowered his bail to $500. Remember that a Wisconsin court commissioner set Kyle Rittenhouse’s bail at $2 million, although he acted in self-defense against armed assailants and immediately surrendered to police.
The more recent November arrest followed Brooks punching and running over a woman who is allegedly the mother of his child during a domestic dispute. He was charged on Nov. 5 with resisting or obstructing an officer, bail jumping, recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, and battery. Brooks had actually been awaiting a plea and sentencing hearing related to the July 2020 arrest scheduled on the day he posted bail for the November incident.
Progressive prosecutors may have patted themselves on the back for their magnanimity toward a violent criminal then, but the Waukesha tragedy now has them in the hot seat.
Given the nature of the November charges, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, led by District Attorney John Chisholm, admitted in a statement Monday that the $1,000 bail recommended by prosecutors, and accepted by the court commissioner, had been “inappropriately low.” As if the families of the deceased should rest assured knowing that it was serial incompetence rather than malice that unleashed Brooks on their loved ones.
“This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps,” the statement read. But Chisholm never would have launched a review unless a widely publicized catastrophe had forced his hand. He had even bragged that people might die as a result of his policies. “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet,” Chisholm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2007. “Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.” Chisholm, moreover, is a partisan who uses his office to protect the lawless and persecute political enemies.
In 2013, he “launched a secret crimininvestigation involving almost every conservative advocacy group in the state,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Armed law-enforcement personnel executed pre-dawn searches of the homes of consultants for the Wisconsin Club for Growth.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the investigation unconstitutional and ordered it shut down in a 4-2 ruling.
Chisholm has been a vocal supporter not only of bail reform but of the most radical, George Soros-backed prosecutors, like California’s Chesa Boudin. “I look forward to working with DA Boudin and reformers across the US to forge a justice system defined by fairness, equity, and proportionality,” Chisholm tweeted in 2019.
Under Boudin, law and order has deteriorated so dramatically in San Francisco that reform advocates have asked locals to “tolerate” burglaries amid a crime wave. Race and social justice “experts” have even cautioned against using the word “looting” to describe now common “smash and grabs” in the Bay Area.
Looting is the least of the public’s worries. An analysis by The Guardian found homicides across the 12 counties that make up the greater San Francisco region increased 25 percent in 2020, compared with the previous year. This isn’t a fluke; this is criminal justice reform working as intended.
Republicans have been quick to cast Waukesha as resulting from Democrat policies. “The main stream media have failed to report the consequences of bail reform,” tweeted former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell. “The Waukesha Christmas Parade was a horrific tragedy. But it never should have happened,” said Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. “We need to start asking questions about why our criminal justice system is releasing violent criminals.”
That is all true—but Republicans, specifically Trump’s Republicans, are guilty of embracing the very same policies. Recall that Trump blasted Joe Biden last year for supporting the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which in fact made communities safer. Key Trump advisors Jared Kushner, Ja’Ron Smith, and Brooke Rollins even planned a Republican bail reform push after they successfully passed the First Step Act. A former senior White House official told me that the proposed Second Step Act “would prioritize soft-on-crime bail policies cooked up by ‘reformers’ like the Koch-funded Brett Tolman.” The latter is an activist associated with the Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Institute and progressive crime groups. He played a leading role in the creation of the First Step Act. Tolman recently signed a petition with Chisholm asking Biden to end the federal death penalty. “Setting the stage for bail reform efforts included pardoning rappers like Lil Wayne and press releases co-signed by Ice Cube,” the former official said.
Though he questions criminal justice reform now, Ron Johnson wrote adamantly in favor of the First Step Act and said nothing critical about it after one of the first people it freed committed murder. Even Newt Gingrich signed America on for a contract with crime. “America’s criminal justice system is badly broken,” he wrote, and passing the First Step Act “will determine the fate of efforts to fix it.” Today, Kushner, Smith, and Rollins run the America First Policy Institute, Trump’s official think tank. Smith succinctly summarized their outlook: “More incarceration doesn’t lead to safer communities.” Would Waukesha have been safer if Brooks remained incarcerated?
The First Step Act actually helps violent criminals like Brooks get out of prison. It allows federal inmates to receive “earned time credits” by participating in vaguely defined rehabilitative programs, including “productive activities” like dog grooming. Worse, it contains a provision that redefines both “serious drug felony” and “serious violent felony” as a crime for which an inmate or defendant “served a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months” for the purpose of criminal history points.
Each additional criminal history point is associated with a higher rate of reoffending upon release. The First Step Act makes a person who is likely to reoffend seem less dangerous than they are because it redefines qualifying offenses and how they are applied. It means offenders do not accrue the designation of a “serious” offender for either drug crimes or violence unless they are “imprisoned” for more than 12 months for the crime, including state offenses.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines revised by the First Step Act, a rapist who, thanks to a progressive prosecutor, spends less than a year in state prison would be treated as a first-time offender. In other words, Trump and the GOP’s policies exacerbate problems created by Democrats.
The thing about “bipartisan” criminal justice reform, whether advanced and applied by Republicans or Democrats, is that it only cuts one way: against law and order and the law-abiding. The same people calling for bail reform did not have a problem with Rittenhouse’s astronomical bail, just as those demanding an end to “mass incarceration” insisted we lock him up and throw away the key. Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who Mitch McConnell considers “the future of the Republican Party,” lamented the shooting of Jacob Blake that sparked riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He even mourned the deaths of the convicted pedophile and domestic abuser shot by Rittenhouse in self-defense. But he, like much of the GOP, has not said a word in support of the latter, who came a hair’s breadth from becoming a real victim of an unjust legal outcome.
There is a war for control over America’s streets. By and large, the established political order has sided with people like Darrell Brooks and abandoned law-abiding, decent Americans to the wolves. If Americans want to take back their communities, they must reject the siren songs of “reform” activists, whether they call themselves Republicans or Democrats.
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