Can Los Angeles Be Saved?

On Monday, off-duty LAPD officer Fernando Arroyos and his girlfriend were out in South L.A. looking at houses, in anticipation of getting married and settling down there.  Sure, it was after dark, and most Angelenos do not venture out at night these days, but Fernando was LAPD, highly trained in police work and educated at U.C. Berkeley, and thought he had it all down.  Then four gangbangers from the local crime organization (too highly advanced to be called a gang), Florencia 13, saw the silver chains around his neck and decided to rob him.  Arroyos told his girlfriend to run.  Shots rang out, at least one hit Arroyos, and he died on the way to the hospital.

On Thursday, a 70-year-old nurse was attacked by a transient, right in front of Union Station, as she was waiting for a bus.  (Public transport is often dangerous for people who work in downtown L.A.)  She died in the hospital four days later.

Later that day, in a fashionable neighborhood in L.A. — in fact, the location of the mayor's mansion — a lovely young woman and recent college grad, Brianna Kupfer, was working in a design store on the busy main street, when a man walked in and for some inexplicable reason stabbed her to death.  Just a fluke, the usual reassuring lie?  No doubt it was meth or mental illness or both, as most random murders are these days in L.A.  Residents are now setting up candles outside the store in yet another makeshift memorial instead of standing outside the mayor's office or the D.A.'s office shouting for their resignations.  This, by the way, occurred a week after a woman pushing a baby stroller was robbed right in front of her nearby Hancock Park home.

With the deaths of these three people, two not yet out of their twenties, someone finally snapped in L.A.  His name is Alex Villanueva, the elected sheriff of L.A. County, where the Arroyos murder occurred.

Usually, when a cop is murdered, the city's mayor and D.A. come out and angrily vow to catch and prosecute the killers to the fullest extent, and they file charges.  After all, they are the apex of the law enforcement pyramid.  If they don't care, the people are in deep trouble.  This is the response from D.A. George Gascon's office, though: a condolence tweet for the "death of an off-duty police officer" without even saying his name, without even admitting it was a murder.

Sheriff Villanueva discussed the case with some of Gascon's staff and then, in a shocking move, filed the case with the U.S Department of Justice instead, as he had no faith in Gascon's office to properly prosecute the case.

Gascon has said often that he will no longer file enhancements that result in extra prison time for criminals.  So a criminal who robs someone would normally also have to answer for committing that crime with a gun or as a member of a gang.  Villanueva was told by the D.A.'s office that they would not file gun or gang enhancements.  It is passing strange that an anti-gun leftist D.A. declines to file gun enhancements, which are designed to punish gun violence, but that is another story.  The death penalty is now on the table with the federal charges.

Some wonder how the feds could file so quickly.  The gang is well known; the feds term it a multi-generational gang, more along the lines of the Mafia than a bunch of guys hanging out, and the subject of two prior racketeering cases.  Let us hope that A.G. Garland does not interfere with this welcome turn of events.

Mayor Garcetti issued a weak statement decrying "gun violence," as if a gun jumped up and shot Officer Arroyos.  Governor Newsom at least admitted he was killed by criminals.  Still no voice of support for the federal prosecution of these murderous thugs.

Directly linked to the random violence in our streets, the Los Angeles homeless situation has exploded in the past couple of years despite billions spent to stop it.  Villanueva is also the only official who has stepped up with any credible enforcement of vagrancy, drug-dealing, and assault laws.  No matter that violence is perpetrated on and by what the leftist city structure euphemistically calls "the homeless" or "persons currently experiencing homelessness."  The police have admitted that Ms. Kupfer's killer was likely a homeless person, for instance, as was the man who killed the nurse at a bus stop.

Villanueva calls L.A. pols "architects of failure" and so has gone around them to clean up the camps and over their heads to prosecute killers — because the city refuses to.  He has cleaned out the settlements at Venice Beach and other tourist spots like Olvera Street and has vowed to keep them cleaned out.  And CA has spent at least $3 billion per year on this issue, to no effect except to grow the homeless population.  In response to the failure, Newsom just proposed another $13 billion, while the city of L.A. spends about a billion.  No one except developers will be helped.

Finally and remarkably, after a record 397 homicides in 2021, it took these latest two murders last week to rouse the city out of its progressive slumber.  Even the left-leaning media are reporting on it.  On the center-right, local radio personalities John and Ken describe the destructive ideology as "like a religion ... a weird doomsday psycho cult."  (Listen to reporter Steve Gregory's riveting report on the crimes on their January 14 podcast.)

Sheriff Villanueva has promised to end the institutional failure on virtually every aspect of city life.  He has acted on it and promised more.  The referral to the federal DOJ is a welcome effort.  Angelenos stand behind him in his campaign to restore sanity to this once beautiful city.  What other choice do we have?

P.S.: The new Virginia attorney general has announced legislation to allow prosecutors to bypass their Soros D.A.s and file criminal cases with his state office.  A welcome tactic is developing.

Patricia Jay is a film essayist and writer in Southern California and writes at

Image: Adoramassey via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped).

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