In This Episode
- Protesters in hundreds of cities around the country rallied against gun violence, last weekend. And on Sunday, a bipartisan group of Senators announced a deal to increase gun safety measures. If passed, it would lead to enhanced background checks, pave the way for additional red flag laws in states, and more. The overall scope of the Senate package, however, falls short of the strong measures that President Biden and others demanded.
- San Francisco voters recalled progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin last week after a targeted campaign claimed his position on criminal justice reform led to an increase in crime. Some in the media have claimed that his ouster in a liberal city is a bad omen for progressive DAs everywhere, but we explain how the stats don’t back that up.
- And in headlines: Idaho police arrested 31 suspected White nationalists they say were going to riot at a local Pride event, gas topped a record $5 per gallon, and the January 6th House committee hearings continue today.
- Donate to Crooked Media’s Pride Fund – https://crooked.com/pride/
- Sign up for Crooked Coffee’s launch on June 21st – http://go.crooked.com/coffee-wad
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, June 13th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, the podcast that plays when you put a seashell from the beach up to your ear.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. We encourage you to try this. And believe me that you will hear us if you listen really, really closely.
Josie Duffy Rice: Super, super, super closely.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, the average price of gas spilled past the $5 mark. Plus, thousands celebrated Pride this past weekend, although some events were marred by threats of violence.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, it was a big weekend for gun control activists and gun reform laws. So let’s start with this:
[crowd chants] Hey hey, ho ho. The NRA has got to go.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s the sound of demonstrators in D.C. during last Saturday’s nationwide anti-gun rallies organized by the group, March for Our Lives. Tre’vell, what can you tell us about the protests?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So as many may remember, March for Our Lives is the organization founded by survivors of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In the aftermath of that shooting, they had organized what became the largest single day of protest against gun violence in history. Well, in light of the last few weeks in which there’s been an absurd number of mass shootings, including those in Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, hundreds of more rallies happened nationwide in at least 45 states and Washington, D.C.. Organizers say rallies even took place internationally in Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. Saturday’s demonstrations march the first ones by the organization in four years, and thousands of folks led by young people, showed up expressing their anger over the federal government’s continued inaction since. Here is Jaclyn Corin, one of the co-founders of March for Our Lives, speaking in D.C.:
[clip of Jaclyn Corin] Many of us have been wearing our marching shoes for years. But today we’re telling Congress, we’re telling the gun lobby, and we’re telling the world: this time is different! This time is different because we’ve had enough! We’ve had enough of having more guns than people here in America. We’ve had enough of kids being afraid to go to school grown-ups, being afraid to go to the grocery stores, and families who look like my family, being afraid to go to their houses of worship.
Josie Duffy Rice: Wow. Meanwhile, in Congress, a group of senators that have been working on bipartisan gun safety measures announced a deal yesterday. Can you walk us through what it entails?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. But first, let me start by mentioning that the House did pass a gun control bill last week. Theirs would bar the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under the age of 21. It would ban the sale of large-capacity magazines, and it would implement a federal red flag law. But it was expected to fail in the Senate from the beginning because . . . Republicans. And it had barely passed the House in the first place, so Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, at the request of Senator Chris Murphy, who’s been leading the delegation of Democrats in the Senate talks, has been waiting to hold a vote on it. And now, as you mentioned, the framework from those discussions in the Senate were announced yesterday. And let’s just be clear that the Democrats were focused on putting something together that would actually pass, so that meant compromising and not advocating for some of the more progressive gun control measures you might hear. And so, the deal, which is being considered a significant step, is purposefully not as sweeping as it could be. It was put together by ten Republicans and ten Democrats, so, bipartisan. And it has been endorsed by President Biden. It includes enhanced background checks to give authorities time to check both the juvenile and mental health records of any prospective gun buyer under the age of 21. They also want to toughen federal laws to stop gun trafficking. The plan would provide funding for states to implement red flag laws. These laws would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed to be dangerous. And there’s also some money that’s supposed to go toward mental health resources and boosting safety and mental health services at schools.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I have to say, some of that stuff sounds okay, and some of it sounds not so good, like keeping juveniles’ records, etc., but I guess we’ll see as the bill continues to progress. So they’re also attempting to address what’s called the “boyfriend loophole.” So can you talk for a second about what that is?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So the “boyfriend loophole” is a gap in federal and some state laws that basically allows domestic abusers to still own firearms. The current Senate deal would address this by prohibiting people from owning guns if they’ve been convicted of domestic violence or were subject to a domestic violence restraining order. Currently, only domestic abusers who are married to, live with, or parent a child with a victim are barred from having a firearm. This in particular is something advocates have been trying to address for some time, but as recent as March of this year, Republicans weren’t having it–which to me feels like the perfect time to remind everyone that this deal right now it is just an outline. The legislation is not finalized and a number of things can and likely will change before it is put up for a vote.
Josie Duffy Rice: Another story we’re following today involves last week’s primary election. We wanted to give you a breakdown about the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Boudin is considered a, quote, “progressive prosecutor”, which is a somewhat oxymoronic phrase that we use to describe prosecutors who acknowledge the role that that position has historically played in mass incarceration and who want to take a different approach. After his recall, there is a narrative from other media outlets that it signals really bad news for progressive district attorneys everywhere, but we wanted to share some facts about how that idea is probably wrong.
Tre’vell Anderson: So to remind people, he lost by a significant margin after 60% of voters voted in favor of recalling him. But what led to the backlash against him, Josie?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, there are some specific nuances here that I don’t want to downplay that are relevant, right? So a lot of people were unhappy with his response to an uptick in hate crimes against Asian people, for example. But the overarching answer to your question of what led to the backlash is that voters in San Francisco were upset by what they see as a rise in crime, and they largely blamed Chesa for that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So you follow prosecutors pretty closely, I think that’s safe to say.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: What are your thoughts about the basic feeling that voters seem to have? First, you know, has crime risen in San Francisco?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, when it comes to crime, and this is generally true, not just true in San Francisco, it’s not as easy as saying like crime is up or crime is down, right? There are a lot of different kind of crimes. Some of them are up. Some are down. You know, it varies. In San Francisco and around the country, crime generally went up in the first months of the pandemic, and since then it has generally gone down to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, in San Francisco in particular, police data shows that violent crime has actually declined in that time, and is around the lowest it’s been in almost 40 years. Now, again, crime is complicated, and there are some crimes that have increased. Most notably, homicide has increased in San Francisco like it has in almost every city across the country. Nationally, homicide has increased by about 30%. In San Francisco, it’s increased a bit more, by about 36%.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, that 36% sounds like a lot, but what does it actually mean?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, that is a great question, because obviously we don’t want to downplay the significance of people dying, but when we talk in percentage jumps, it can seem that we’re talking about more extreme numbers than you might guess. Right? So that 36% increase in homicides is about 15 more homicides in 2021 than the year before. And, of course, 15 additional deaths, again, a tragedy regardless, but many people hear 36% increase and they’re thinking numbers in the hundreds. They’re just thinking tons and tons of people. And even with that increase, San Francisco has a lower homicide rate than most cities in the country, and homicide is still down significantly from where it’s been in the past, right? So I think that 36% can be really misleading. There are other crimes that have increased, too, like some property crimes are up, burglaries are up, car break ins are up, for example, in San Francisco, but overall property crime is actually down. So again, it’s more complicated than one might think, and it’s especially more complicated than the narrative by the pro-recall campaign against Chesa, if you’ve been hearing that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And you mentioned earlier that voters blame Chesa for that rise in crime. But I want to know what you think, is it his fault or responsibility when crime goes up?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, in my opinion, and again, I spent a lot an embarrassing amount of time on this exact issue of prosecutorial power, right? In my opinion, the answer is unequivocally no. It’s just not his fault when crime rises or when it is reduced, right? It’s not surprising that voters feel that way. It’s a really common perception that I think in San Francisco in particular was magnified by the over $7 million spent, largely by special interests, on the recall campaign. But it’s the wrong perception, and I’ll explain why. First of all, it reflects this long-existing misunderstanding of the criminal legal system. And it’s a misunderstanding that police and tough-on-crime prosecutors have long played into for decades, but police and prosecutors are not preventative. They get involved after a harm has already happened. So this idea that they prevent crime is just wrong.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And so, therefore, you’re saying the D.A. is not responsible when crime goes up or down?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I mean, I think, of course, right, like Chesa could have locked up half of San Francisco and crime would probably have gone down. If you lock up enough people. Crime will go down. And it would be one thing if you were letting serial killers wander the streets, like you can imagine scenarios in which you’d be like that may be contributing, but that’s not what’s happening, right? And traditionally, the way prosecutors have quote unquote, “prevented crime” is by just indiscriminate. Incarceration, locking people up for really long periods for small infractions. We actually know how to prevent crime, Tre’vell, right? Like, when you have a place to live, when you have housing, when you have access to addiction treatment, when you can pay a rent, when you can feed your family, you know, that reduces crime. But it’s not now, and never really has been, that crime has reduced through the prosecutor’s office. Also, it’s worth noting that in places like Sacramento, which had a very, very, very tough on crime prosecutor, crime is up even more than it is in San Francisco. And so there’s really just not a correlation with the politics of the office and a rise in crime, because, again, the office doesn’t drive these dynamics. It’s also worth noting in San Francisco that the police there solve about 8% of crime. 8, out of 100%. Just so we’re clear, right? And so, you know, to the extent that someone is part of the system is failing in San Francisco, I believe that you could really source that back to the police much more than the prosecutor’s office, right?
Tre’vell Anderson: I see what you did there.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just saying.
Tre’vell Anderson: A lot of news outlets are framing this as the beginning of the end of the progressive prosecutor movement and like a bad sign for criminal legal reform. What are your thoughts on that?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. I mean, who knows? Anything could happen. But I’m not particularly worried, at least not right now. And I think the media response is kind of outrageous. I mean, look, tough-on-crime rhetoric has gained a lot more steam across the country because of the recent kind of fears of rising crime, but Chesa’s record, it is still a really big aberration. Even when you just look at California on Election Day last week, it’s an aberration. So that prosecutor I mentioned in Sacramento, the tough-on-crime one, Anne Marie Schubert, she ran for attorney general and she got just 7.5% of the vote in that campaign. And in nearby Contra Costa County, as well as in Alameda County, where Oakland is, the progressive candidates were victorious in their prosecutor races. You’re not really hearing those stories, right? The media is way more interested in Chesa’s record than this broader picture, but the truth is that San Francisco’s one city and it’s just not clear that it’s representative of a trend right now.
Tre’vell Anderson: Other progressive prosecutors like Kim Fox in Chicago and Larry Krasner in Philly faced backlash, too, but eventually won when they were up for reelection in 2020 and 2021, respectively. What’s different about Chesa here?
Josie Duffy Rice: I think it’s a really good question, and I don’t think it’s really about Chesa as much as I think it’s about San Francisco. So Fordham Law Professor John Pfaff pointed out in a Slate article last week that people see San Francisco as the most liberal city in America, so they think this is just a bad omen for everywhere. But that’s a real misconception, at least in some pretty relevant ways to this race. First of all, San Francisco has some of the most extreme income inequality in the country, if not the world, honestly, and that really contributes to people’s perceptions of crime, of homelessness, to gentrification, to those dynamics, right? And there’s some really relevant demographic considerations as well. So San Francisco is only 6% Black compared to like Philadelphia, which is 44% Black, and Chicago which is 30% Black. So it seems at least plausible that those percentages are relevant given the way mass incarceration has harmed Black communities in particular.
Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely. Either way, we will be watching what happens in San Francisco and across the country as far as prosecutor races go. Thank you so much for that, Josie. I feel like I understand it better now. And that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Several communities around the world celebrated Pride this past weekend with tens of thousands partying in cities like Los Angeles, Rome, and Indianapolis. The events were more somber in Orlando yesterday, which commemorated six years since the Pulse Nightclub massacre, where 49 people were shot and killed. And homophobic events this weekend proved why Pride is still needed as well. On Saturday, Idaho police arrested and charged 31 members of a white nationalist group in the city of Coeur d’Alene. Authorities say they planned to violently ride at the local pride event, but thankfully someone tipped off their presence to the police after seeing about 20 men jump into a U-Haul truck wearing masks, carrying shields, and looking like, quote, “a little army.” Meanwhile, in the northern California city of San Lorenzo, members of the Proud Boys barged into a drag queen story hour at the local library on Saturday while a drag queen was reading to preschool-aged kids. Five men burst into the library, shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs. Some families told the police that they feared for their safety. Law enforcement de-escalated the situation, and the local sheriff’s department is currently investigating this as a hate crime.
Josie Duffy Rice: Just absolutely terrifying when you see those pictures of the men and the U-Haul.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm-hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: Fighting continues in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk. A senior U.S. defense official said Russia will likely seize control of that entire area in the next few weeks. There’s been intense fighting throughout the region, and Russian forces have targeted bridges in the city of Severnodonetsk in an effort to cut off key supply routes and civilians’ ability to evacuate. Russia now controls most of the city, and up to 400 Ukrainian troops and civilians are said to be trapped in a chemical plant there. And an aide to President Vladimir Zelenskyy said the number of casualties in the east is way higher than in earlier phases of the war. Ukrainians are still fighting back, but they desperately need more weapons. Officials say weapons from the West aren’t coming fast enough or in large-enough quantities. Also in news about this war that isn’t quite so heavy: McDonald’s is back up and running in Russia under new management. The chain left the country in protest of its invasion of Ukraine, but all 850 Russian McDonald’s were then bought by a Siberian billionaire, and some have already reopened under a name that translates to, quote, “Tasty, and that’s it.” True Russian WAD listeners can break the ice cream machines there to express their dissent . . . or not, because those machines are probably broken already.
Tre’vell Anderson: Of course they are. Get ready to be even more resentful of your friend who bikes to work because gas hit $5 a gallon over the weekend. That’s according to AAA’s national average. As you’ve probably observed, gas prices have been rising steadily since mid-April, contributing to the historically high inflation that makes it painful to enter any store. Some of the factors that are pushing gas prices sky high are increased post-lockdown demand, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and rates of oil production at home and abroad that still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Summer travel season is just around the corner, so demand will probably go up from here. Some experts say we could see a $6 national average within the next couple of months, which for me here in L.A. means a tank will probably cost around $14 a gallon, plus a blood sacrifice–it’s insane out here, people. Interestingly, the state with the current lowest average gas price of about $4.47 is Georgia, where you are Josie. Which is why you have so kindly agreed to host me until we figure out what is going on.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s pretty sad that $4.47 is the national low. However, if anybody listening needs a place to stay, you are welcome to my house–as soon as I run it by the other four people who currently live there. Today is the second broadcast in a series of televised hearings from the House January 6th committee known collectively as “Impeachment, Part 3: Impeachment Resurrections.”–get it? Yesterday, we learned the committee would call Trump’s last campaign manager, Bill Stepien. Committee members are expected to ask Stepien about the extent to which Trump knew his claims of election fraud were 100% made up. One NFL coach could benefit from watching the committee’s hearings very closely. Jack Del Rio, who is the defensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders, described the insurrection last week as a, quote, “dust up at the Capitol” when speaking to reporters. And he also implied that lawmakers should shift their focus from it and on to the protests for racial justice held in summer 2020 instead. Del Rio’s comments led the commanders to find him $100,000 to be donated to the US Capitol Police Memorial Fund. But lest you think guys will make comments like this once and not have it be a major feature of their personality, one of Del Rio’s former players told The Washington Post, quote, “I’ve heard these for the last two, three years. He’s been consistent.”–well, at least he’s been consistent, I guess. Del Rio deleted his Twitter account on Saturday, apparently chastened. Though, before he went, he did retweet a post that said, quote, “I may not agree with what a person says, but I’ll defend their right to say it.” I got to say, everybody who posts that quote, you never actually see them defending any perspectives they don’t like.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, of course not, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s just funny. I’m like . . .
Tre’vell Anderson: Theirs is the only one that matters. Everyone who uses that quote is always someone who, you know, wants to make America great again.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Always. Every time.
Tre’vell Anderson: And y’all know what I mean when I say that, okay?
Josie Duffy Rice: Sure do. I know exactly what you mean.
Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: starting today at 10 a.m. Eastern, join Crooked for a live group thread of the next January 6th House committee hearing. We’ll provide our real time commentary for each day of the hearings, and you’ll be joined by your favorite Crooked hosts. Don’t miss out on live reactions. Head a YouTube.com/Crookedmedia.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, make peace with your friend who bikes to work, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just gas prices from six months ago like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And tune into “Impeachment, Part 3!
Tre’vell Anderson: The most riveting television you have ever seen. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Gideon Resnick and Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.
Tre’vell Anderson: Hey, WAD squad. There’s another pod we think you could check out: “Slow Burn” from Slate. In the early 1970s, the future of abortion rights was hanging in the balance. On this season of Slow Burn, host Susan Matthews tells the forgotten story of those early battles and how they changed America. You’ll hear about the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and the rookie Supreme Court Justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime. Listen to Slate’s Slow Burn: Roe versus Wade, wherever you listen to podcasts.