SEN. GRASSLEY: A Recipe for Urban Decline

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I’ve stood here before to express my concerns about the rise in crime in America. Now I’d like to talk about what that rise in crime means for all of us if we don’t stop it.


If we don’t act soon and don’t reverse the trend of tolerating crime, a generation of Americans will see their greatest cities fall into decay.

We’ve seen it before, and it’s not something we want to see again. To stop it, we must go back to allowing the police to enforce the law and demanding that prosecutors do their jobs.

A couple generations of Americans have now grown up not knowing how dangerous some of our biggest cities used to be. The two that come to mind are New York and Washington, D.C.

First, New York. When asked what they think of Times Square in Manhattan, younger Americans would probably say it’s a tourist trap.

But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1970s, Times Square was an open sore, filled with adult theaters, drugs and rampant crime. Back then, the New York City subway looked like something from a dystopian horror movie. You avoided it if you could.

Then there was Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s. Its decay could almost be traced back entirely to one man.

Just a few blocks from where I’m standing now, a drug dealer named Rayful Edmund ran the most notorious crack-cocaine operation in the country. By 1989, he was bringing seventeen-hundred pounds of cocaine into D.C. every month. He used to put snipers on rooftops near his headquarters. Police suspected his involvement in 30 homicides. During that time, the city’s murder rate doubled.

Washington had the nickname, “murder capital of the world.”

Then something great happened. Mayors and prosecutors got serious about dealing with crime.

They sent Rayful Edmund to jail for life. People who lived in cities felt safer. Businesses flourished. Pervasive fear gradually lessened, as police took criminals off the streets.

The crime rates in New York and Washington plummeted. Young families moved to urban neighborhoods that were far too dangerous just a few years before. This was wonderful. The block where Rayful Edmund once put his snipers on rooftops is now a normal residential street.

Our cities should be places we want to live in. We should enjoy going there to see other people. We shouldn’t avoid cities because we’re afraid of getting harassed on the street or carjacked or worse. But that’s what’s happening again. All over the country, our biggest cities are starting to look dangerous – and empty.

They are devolving into what they were just a couple decades ago. Homicides in 22 major cities have gone up 44 percent since 2019. Carjackings are up double, even triple, or worse in some places. Thieves are stealing from stores with impunity.

When that happens, those businesses shut down, leaving neighborhoods with empty storefronts and a recipe for urban decline.

Crime is up because of the permissive approach by too many so-called progressive prosecutors.

One prosecutor in San Francisco said that if you steal less than $950, you won’t be prosecuted. No wonder people are committing more crimes.

These prosecutors see criminals as victims, releasing them back on the streets shortly after being arrested. This sows fear in local residents. It kills growth, hurts neighborhoods and endangers regular people who want to live their lives peacefully.

America is a nation of progress, of moving forward. Our current backward slide to the urban decline of the 1970s and 80s is tragic. Working-class families and those who can’t afford to move somewhere safer will bear the brunt of it.

The solution here isn’t complicated. A recent poll showed two out of every three people know what some of these blue-city mayors haven’t figured out yet: more police equals less crime.

When you see prosecutors list a whole bunch of crimes they won’t prosecute, it encourages law-breaking. We need to stop the crusade to defund the police crusade.

We need to stop progressive prosecutors.

We need to make sure repeat offenders and those who are a threat to society don’t get bail. Otherwise, younger generations of Americans will learn all over again the harsh lessons about how quickly our greatest cities can fall into decay.

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