In the wake of recent lootings in Philadelphia, a 2020 video clip of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has resurfaced, in which Ocasio-Cortez defends shoplifters as individuals who are “hungry” and need to feed their children.
She stated, “They are put in a position where they feel like they need to shoplift some bread or go hungry that night.” This comment has been met with criticism, particularly in light of the recent lootings where stores like Footlocker, Apple, and Lululemon were targeted.
The lootings have resulted in at least 30 individuals being charged so far. The charges mostly include burglary and theft, with one individual charged with illegal gun possession. Police report that a large group of around 100 juveniles moved from store to store, looting them. Furthermore, 18 liquor stores were ransacked, prompting all of Philadelphia’s Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores to close temporarily for safety reasons and to repair damages.
One woman, Dayjia Blackwell, livestreamed the chaos and was seen encouraging the looting. She herself was seen looting a liquor store, confidently addressing her viewers, “Tell the police if they lock me up tonight it’s going to be lit, it’s going to be a movie! Everybody’s gotta eat!” Blackwell was later arrested by the police.
In light of these events, it’s important to note that just three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner resigned amidst a wave of homicides and lawlessness in the city. Danielle Outlaw, who served as the city’s top cop since February 2020, left the department on September 22. Before her term, Philadelphia experienced less than 400 homicides each year since 2007. However, both 2021 and 2022 have seen more than 500 homicides across the city.
The latest figures show a stark increase in crime, with 302 homicides, 402 reported rapes, 58,759 cases of property crime, 3,701 cases of aggravated assaults, and 1,314 shooting victims so far this year. Concurrently, homelessness and drug use have become more prevalent in the city.