Hundreds of people blocking streets, looting stores, and destroying property should not be normal occurrences. They are not normal in a peaceful, prosperous society. Alas, they are increasingly normal in America’s large cities. Unusually violent street incidents in Chicago and Los Angeles over the weekend illustrate the nation’s civilizational decline and point to at least one of the (many) causes.
Videos captured early Sunday morning show that a mob approximately 100 strong smashed through a glass door at an Arco gas station in Compton, California and ransacked the place while the overnight clerk hid in the bathroom. The “mob of looters … left a trail of destruction” at multiple stores, according to one local news report, while another said sheriff’s deputies received reports of gunshots in the area. Police arrived too late to stop the mayhem — not to mention being wildly outnumbered — but are reviewing video for possible charges.
The incident was apparently related to illegal street takeovers — at least three occurred Sunday night — connected to illegal street racing. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Clarence Williams said the street takeovers occur “just about every weekend.” Local resident Kevin Evans said of the perpetrators, “I don’t think they are Compton residents. We don’t tear up our own city like this.” (That hasn’t always been true.)
Meanwhile in Chicago, hundreds of teens swarmed the city’s downtown area on Saturday night, climbing on buses, smashing car windows, attacking bystanders, and generally creating chaos. Two teens were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, while a woman said her husband was hospitalized after a crowd smashed their windshield and beat him severely. The under-age crowd attempted to enter Millennium Park, where people under 21 are not allowed without an adult. Assisted by SWAT teams, hundreds of Chicago police attempted to restore order and escort tourists to safety. Police arrested nine adults and six juveniles, a slim fraction of the lawbreakers that night.
Saturday’s violence wasn’t the first time. On Friday, “a similar gathering” of hundreds of teens at 31st Street Beach turned violent when a 14-year-old was shot, and other cars were damaged, including one set on fire. One eyewitness described “kids fighting, chasing each other, some of them got guns.” The incidents also echo last year’s “Teen Takeover,” when, Chicago’s downtown was plunged into “absolute chaos” as mayoral candidate Paul Vallas tweeted. “Juveniles jumping on top of buses, cars, terrorizing residents, tourists & businesses. These mass groups fought CPD [Chicago Police Department] & only minimal arrests were made.” Sadly, Chicago’s routine violence only receives widespread attention when it spills out into affluent neighborhoods.
Multiple eyewitnesses laid at least part of the blame for the Chicago chaos at the feet of parents. “What’s it going to take?” asked one witness. “The community has to step up, parents have to step up, we can’t keep blaming politicians and waiting on them.” Outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the same point. “Parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.”
Another anonymous Chicago native perhaps said it best, “Where are their parents at? That’s my question.”
That’s a great question. First, it rightly intuits that parents bear a responsibility for their children’s moral formation.
Second, it points toward at least a piece of the solution: parents are absent because they have been shut out of a position of influence in their children’s lives — by design. Education experts believe they know better than parents and therefore can supersede a parent’s authority. “I have a master’s degree,” testified Arizona teacher Alicia Messing. “What do the parents have?” She added, “the purpose of public education is not to teach only what parents want their children to be taught, it is to teach them what society needs them to be taught.”
Left-wing politicians are 110% behind the arrogant absolutism of the Educrats. As former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe accidentally said out loud in the 2021 campaign, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Of course, that predictably unpopular narrative — McAuliffe lost his bid to retake the governor’s mansion — has leftists such as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre or Education Secretary Miguel Cardona searching around for a more sympathetic framing. They much prefer a “parents versus Republican politicians” narrative to the “parents versus teachers” reality.
As a result, more than 5,000 schools now allow — or require! — teachers to hide a child’s gender identity from parents, according to a report by Parents Defending Education. Schools have stocked closets with clothing so that students can cross-dress at school to keep their gender identity secret from their parents. They have continued to stonewall parents, even after parents have sued them, or their children attempted suicide. One Wisconsin teacher posted in her classroom, “If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now.”
If parents lack the moral authority to even know when their children attempt suicide, how can they be expected to effectively steer their teens away from street crime?
Both Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) — which are also home to some of the nation’s most powerful teachers unions — endorse this radical, new agenda of hiding essential information about a students’ identity from their parents.
It gets worse. After undermining parental influence, many schools are training children up to be left-wing activists. New curricula, some of which has been promoted in mainstream media, not only claims that activism makes children better students and better citizens, but teaches them how to do it. It’s no accident that high school students — or even younger — routinely walk out of class to participate in left-wing protests; their teachers are training and encouraging them to do so. Sure enough, there is evidence — although they try to downplay it — that LAUSD and CPS are encouraging their students in activism. Why, then, are we surprised when youth in Los Angeles and Chicago take over the streets?
Illinois state Senator Robert Peters (D), the senate black caucus chair, explicitly identified the Chicago violence with political activism, “I would look at the behavior of young people as a political act and statement. It’s a mass protest against poverty and segregation.” There’s only one problem: the word for non-governmental actors employing violence in pursuit of a political objective is not “protest”; it’s “terrorism.” For that reason, let’s hope Mr. Peters is incorrect.
“One of God’s great gifts to humanity is restraint. And when those restraints are taken off of a society, horrible things happen,” Dr. Al Mohler said last week on “Washington Watch.” “Frankly, you look at America’s major cities, [and] you don’t see much restraint about anything.” This past weekend made his point.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.
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