The Hole in the Wall Gangs ride again in California
It looks like America is starting to take on the aura of the old West. Those were the days when an array of nefarious outlaw gangs held out at the Hole in the Wall Pass in Wyoming. One of their specialties was robbing the old Iron Horses (trains, to those of you unfamiliar with old western terminology).
Haven’t seen a modern-day train robbery that was not in a movie at a local theater with the notable exception of the Great Train Robbery of 1963 – and that was an outlier.
Well … they’re baaack. And where else could the phenomenon of train robberies take place but in Los Angeles, California – a state taking the lead in the number and unique forms of crimes plaguing American cities these days. Some may see it as a return to the days of yore when trains traveling in and out of Cali-for-nye-yea were routinely robbed.
The scourge of train robberies was seeming ended thanks to Wyatt Earp, the Lone Ranger (yes, there was a real one and he was a black man), Texas Rangers, the U.S. Cavalry and even the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Unfortunately, none of those folks and organizations are around anymore – but train robbery has re-emerged.
Train robbery!!! No, there are no exciting scenes of a bunch of gun-toting men on horseback chasing a speeding locomotive trailed by box cars, mail cars and even passenger cars. Today, it is breaking into boxcars with all those shipments from Amazon, UPS, the post office or various suppliers. And the loot, is not gold or cash, but items that can be sold through local fronts or on eBay.
So, who are these new-age outlaws?
We need to ask California Governor Gavin Newsom. He understands that the first step to a solution is to properly define the problem. So, Governor, who are the robbers?
Newsom first described them as gangs of people. (Aren’t gangs always people? Maybe he just wanted to distinguish between gangs of muskrats. But I digress). So, like the old days, we have outlaw “gangs” robbing trains. It was not the first time that Newsom referred to the thieves as “gangs of people” – but is likely to be the last.
In what can only be described as some accommodation to political correctness, Newsom corrected himself – apologized. These are NOT “gangs of people” – or gangs or any kind. What? Not gangs.
“Forgive me for saying ‘gangs’,” Newsom said. “They’re organized groups of folks that move from site to site.” Does that mean in Los Angeles, they have organized-groups-of-folks that-move-from-site-to-site wars? In Chicago, we called them “gang wars.”
As would be expected from the top dog in the state, Newsom has a plan. He is calling for those robbing the box cars of millions of dollars in merchandise to be made to clean up the mess they leave behind as seen in the photograph atop this commentary.
They could be charged with much more serious anti-crime laws, but I cannot find the criminal charges that cover illegal activity by an “organized-group-of-folks that-move-from-site-to-site.”
There is also good news and bad news. The good news is that police are able to arrest a lot of the members of Newsom’s “organized-groups-of-folks that-move-from-site-to-site.” The bad news is that the one site they seem to move to and from faster than any other site is the hoosegow.
In a letter from the Union Pacific Railroad, officers wrote that “These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than 24 hours.” (In case you play trivia, the Union Pacific was founded by President Lincoln. I imagine they have had some experience with train robbers in the past.)
Newsom is getting some serious heat from public officials. State Senator Scott Wilk and Congressman Mike Garcia are urging the Governor to end his lenient polices on criminals. Wilk said, “Californians deserve safer communities and Republicans can look forward to fighting for every neighbor, retailer and employer who is fed up with the Democrats’ ‘Criminals First’ public safety agenda.”
Union Pacific officials sent a letter to LA District Attorney George Gascón – known for his handing out “get out of jail free” cards like coupons for laundry soap. They wrote, “This increased criminal activity over the past twelve months accounts for approximately $5 million in claims, losses and damages to UP. And that value does not include respective losses to our impacted customers. Nor does it capture the larger operating or commercial impacts to the UP network or supply chain system in Los Angeles County.”
So far, the Newsom policy has been to pick up a lot of cardboard along the tracks to be recycled. If nothing else, the Governor is a dedicated environmentalist.
In the conclusion of our movie analogy, we see the organized-groups-of-folks that-move-from-site-to-site riding off toward Hole in the Wall pass — but no posse in pursuit. Sheriff Newsom is back in town at the saloon playing poker with his sidekick, Deputy Gascón, and making eyes at Miss Kitty.
So, there ‘tis.