Washington, D.C., is becoming an embarrassment to the nation.
A horrific story that made national headlines illustrates what the city is becoming.
A would-be carjacker shot a former Trump administration official in the head Jan. 29 at the beginning of an insane, violent romp through the city.
Mike Gill, who served as the chief of staff at the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission, died Feb. 5. He was a married father of three.
According to The Hill website, Artell Cunningham not only shot Gill before abandoning the car, he then tried to carjack another person an hour later.
After Cunningham fled the aftermath of his first attempted carjacking, “police said he then approached another man and woman in their car in Northeast D.C. about 10 minutes later and demanded the keys, before shooting the man and fleeing the scene.”
The man later died, the Hill reported.
“That car was later discovered in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, where police said Cunningham attempted two other carjackings,” according to the Hill. “At around 3 a.m. [Jan. 30], he was seen driving one of the carjacked vehicles on the highway and shot at a police cruiser.”
Cunningham was eventually found by police and reportedly “produced two handguns.” The police shot him, and he subsequently died at a hospital.
This maniac was literally acting as though the Grand Theft Auto video game was real life. Insane stories like this have become commonplace in Washington. In fact, crime and dysfunction have become so pervasive that even the typically dismissive left-wing media have taken notice.
Of course, they’ve tried to frame the problem as an outlier, not at all tied to the ideology of the people who now run most big cities in America. Violent crime is dramatically higher in this country following the riots of 2020, and that’s simply a fact.
But the problem just happens to be particularly acute in the District of Columbia, a reality that former President Donald Trump rightly pointed out on Monday. He made a comment about his ongoing trial in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit regarding the 2020 election, then mentioned the state of the city.
Trump called into question the District’s basic notions of justice. He said that not only can he not get a fair trial there, he also called for a “federal takeover of this filthy and crime-ridden embarrassment to our nation.”
Good for Trump.
He’s saying out loud what a lot of Americans are thinking. Forget “D.C. statehood.” It’s more worthwhile asking whether the District’s 50-year experiment in “home rule” is a total failure.
Of all the dysfunctional big, blue cities, the nation’s capital appears to disintegrating the most rapidly. National Review did a quick rundown of the numbers:
D.C. police have reported 49 carjackings and nine homicides so far in the new year. In 2023, overall crime increased 26 percent over 2022. That includes major increases in property crime (24 percent), violent crime (39 percent), and motor-vehicle theft (82 percent). The city also saw more homicides in 2023 than in any year since 1997.
As I wrote in January, carjacking doubled in 2023 compared with the previous year, with a staggering 959 reported. There were “just” 152 carjackings in 2019.
The escalation of violent crime has been so bad that even the District’s normally out-to-lunch city council has been pushed to show it’s doing something about it.
The D.C. Council voted on Tuesday to move forward on a crime bill that would stiffen penalties for some crimes. For instance, it would create a few “drug-free” zones and make stealing from stores then returning those items for a refund a felony. That’s good, I suppose.
But it’s hard not to look at the list of proposals and wonder why those weren’t already laws on the books. Also, given the attitude of city leaders and the initial pushback on the legislation, there’s a good chance that the most effective proposals never get written into law or implemented.
It’s impossible to have faith in city leaders who tried to lower the penalties for carjackings amid a historic carjacking crisis. The only thing that stopped them was an act of Congress.
The District’s jailbreak mentality on crime was on display at a public hearing on Jan. 30. D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb was hounded about the explosion of crime. His response to angry residents was that the city needed to be more focused on “prevention” and providing “young people and their families with resources.”
Schwalb then added, referring to the crime spike: “We cannot prosecute and arrest our way out of it.”
Sometimes I wish local newscasts would add a laugh track for absurd times like these. Yes, Mr. Attorney General, maybe you should consider the novel “prosecute criminals” approach. It’s a crazy idea, I know, but why not give it a shot?
The rise in carjackings isn’t happening because people are poor and hungry. It’s happening because criminals—mostly teens—want to take the cars for joyrides, and gangs are encouraging them. This isn’t about poor people being desperate to feed themselves; it’s about a climate of criminality that’s been allowed to fester in the nation’s capital.
The source of this nonsense is ideology. The District’s leaders have signaled that political enemies of the regime are to be punished to the maximum extent of the law. Meanwhile, they reward their friends and allow criminals to use the city as a vast, lawless playground.
The District doesn’t have justice, so there will be no peace.
Given that the Founders created the city for the purpose of creating a safe and secure place for the representatives of the American people to work and deliberate, it can’t simply be allowed to fall into ruins.
Perhaps this crime bill is the beginning of a big change from city leadership. But I’ll bet that future federal interventions are more than likely going to prove necessary.
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