Our entire nation was aghast and justifiably outraged at what we witnessed in Memphis, Tenn. when a group of police officers essentially beat a man, Tyre Nichols, to death, whose apparent crime was driving erratically and resisting arrest.
Having said that, selective outrage is a real problem in our society today.
In the last couple of months, we have seen some Santa Barbara Westside gangbangers arrested for allegedly murdering an innocent bystander on Stearns Wharf for the benefit of their criminal gang. Another group of gangbangers allegedly executed an entire family in Goshen, Calif., which included an infant — most likely at the behest of Mexican drug cartels.
Finally, a police officer was gunned down in Selma, Calif., by a guy who should have been in prison until 2026, because of previous convictions, were it not for California’s desire to empty our prisons of tens of thousands of inmates, many of whom are lifelong criminals.
Where is the outrage for these victims?
According to a county grand jury report from three years ago, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department offered a list of 18 named gangs: two in Santa Barbara, three in Goleta/Isla Vista, three in Lompoc, two that have ties in Lompoc and Santa Maria, and eight in Santa Maria.
Some gang members from San Luis Obispo County also reside in Santa Barbara County.
All told, there are several thousand gang members in our county, while California has an estimated 300,000 gang members.
Read that again: 300,000 gang members not including wannabees!
These gangs engage in human trafficking, gun and drug running, property crimes, and violent crimes including murder.
At most, in California they receive a slap on the wrist for all the above, especially if they are juveniles. Often criminals in California are caught and released faster than an endangered fish.
This has to do with the fact that California reduced some 500 felonies to misdemeanor status, meaning they no longer count as a strike on their record.
The bottom line? In California, criminal gangs understand that crime does pay.
I often wonder how California can claim it doesn’t have enough money to build more prisons and subsidize more investigation and prosecution units throughout the state, but somehow it came up with $12 billion in a futile attempt to end homelessness. As I mentioned previously, a great number of the homeless could be removed from our streets if they too were prosecuted for their lifestyles of crime in our community.
One would be hard pressed to determine which program has failed society the most. The social justice/criminal justice reform movement that treats criminals as if they are the victims, or the multi-billion-dollar efforts to house people and reintegrate them into society sans the requirement to quit doing drugs and abusing alcohol?
One story discussed on my radio show last week speaks to the intersectionality of all the above as these problems are not confined to California or the United States. Daniel/Sophie Eastwood is currently serving a life sentence for murder in a Scottish prison. Daniel, who was born a man, progressed from identifying as a woman to identifying as an infant girl! He has since been supplied with a pacifier, diapers, meals blended in the fashion of baby food, and get this, he demands that his guards hold his hand whenever he leaves his cell!
The story of Daniel/Sophie Eastwood brings me to a point of this story lost on our society in general. Gangbangers, the homeless and career criminals should not be treated as if they don’t know what they are doing, avoiding the just consequences of their life choices. They are sentient adults — not innocent, helpless babies/victims, although the trend is to treat them as such.
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.