Don’t call it “looting.” Call it “organized robbery.”
Police and law enforcement “experts” in California are saying that the recent surge of smash-and-grab thefts in California shouldn’t be called “looting” because that term carries racial connotations.
That has prompted a spokesman for the San Diego Police Department to call the thefts “organized robbery,” according to a new report.
The large-scale thefts aren’t considered looting under the California Penal Code, according the report Tuesday by ABC affiliate KGO. “The penal code defines looting as ‘theft or burglary … during a ‘state of emergency,’ ‘local emergency,’ or ‘evacuation order’ resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot or other natural or manmade disaster,’” the report said.
“As the Bay Area grapples with a wave of seemingly organized smash and grab robberies this weekend, policing and journalism analysts are cautioning against the use of the term looting,” Race and Social Justice Reporter Julian Glover said.
But some cops are still using the term. “The Louis Vuitton store was burglarized and looted. The Burberry in Westfield Mall was burglarized and looted,” said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott in a press conference to reporters Saturday.
San Jose police spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo has taken umbrage with the term. “We are talking about two incidents, we’re not going to call this looting,” he said of the thefts. “This is organized robbery. That’s what it is.”
A rash of flash thefts have occurred across California in San Jose, Santana Row, Hayward, and Walnut Creek. In each, waves of thieves — in one instance more than 100 — stormed into stores and stole as much as they could carry.
But calling the thefts “looting” carries a racist connotation, according to Lorenzo Boyd, a professor of criminal justice and community policing at the University of New Haven and a former police officer.
“Looting is a term that we typically use when people of color or urban dwellers are doing something,” he said, according to the ABC report. “We tend not to use that term for other people when they do the exact same thing.”
He also said the “smash-and-grabs” were not connected to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. “These types of massive, organized smash-and-grabs were happening before the Rittenhouse situation because it happens cyclically,” he said. “It’s a false equivalency. It’s people trying to politicize crime.”
The new woke language drew mockery on social media.
“Apparently the new politically correct term for ‘looting’ is ‘massive organized smash and grabs’? Okee dokee,” one person wrote on Twitter. Another wrote: “The most San Francisco response possible to the utter lawlessness occurring is to debate the words used to describe it.”
“Merits aside, what would possibly change if we consistently referred to these incidents as ‘smash and grabs’ rather than ‘looting’? The belief in the magical power of linguistic reform is a serious brain worm,” wrote another. And one more tweeted: “It’s looting. Just like there were riots in Kenosha, not just protests.”