A new opinion piece published in the New York Post expresses sympathy and understanding for the man seen on a viral video spraying a homeless woman with water in San Francisco.
Douglas Murray’s op-ed not only attempts to justify the crime that art gallery owner Collier Gwin was arrested for committing against a defenseless woman on a sidewalk, but is also used as a space to admit the author “often” wonders why things like that don’t “happen more.”
Using the fearmongering premise of “lawless cities,” Murray even tried to link the topic of race to support his argument.
For background’s sake, in case you’re unfamiliar with what happened in San Francisco earlier this month, Gwin was recorded nonchalantly spraying water on the unidentified woman in an effort to remove her from near his gallery. Gwin went on to defend his actions. The video was posted on social media and quickly went viral, sparking widespread outrage to the point the police got involved and arrested him on Wednesday. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said there is enough evidence to warrant charging Gwin with misdemeanor battery—a charge that carries a maximum penalty of six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine—despite the victim declining to press charges.
One day later, Murray’s op-ed was published using Gwin’s shameless act as a way to shame those aforementioned “lawless cities” like San Francisco where he says crime has surged.
In this case, though, the “crime” Murray is referring to is homelessness in a city where the cost of living is 38% higher than the state average and 94% higher than the national average, according to statistics from the Rent Cafe website, which provides data about the U.S. real estate market.
Murray’s words suggest he’s in favor of the type of vigilantism that landed Gwin in jail.
“Gwin probably shouldn’t have snapped,” Murray wrote.
But Gwin had reached his “breaking point,” Murray explains, oblivious to the irony of his own words.
“But you know, everyone has a breaking point, and the more that law enforcement abandon a city the closer people come to that breaking point,” Murray wrote before making it clear how he really feels.
“In fact I often wondered why it doesn’t happen more,” Murray mused. “Not just in San Francisco but in lawless cities across the country.”
Murray went on to share an arguably racist anecdote about purportedly witnessing brazen examples of shoplifting in New York City in which he claims the alleged perpetrators suffered “absolutely no repercussion.”
“I would guess to a near 100% certainty that if the guard had not been black then race would have entered the discussion and the thief would have been able to walk out with whatever he wanted,” Murray actually wrote.
Of course, what might get lost in the weeds here is the very relevant fact that the homeless woman who Gwin sprayed — the basis of Murray’s opinion piece — was not a shoplifter. She was simply part of the unfortunate homeless population in San Francisco that has been subjected to “unlawful” sweeps by law enforcement that also appear to be unconstitutional.
But never mind the details.
“I don’t know that hosing people down is the answer,” Murray admits before piling on the fearmongering over homelessness. “But I’m surprised more people don’t do it, or something like it. Because once the law disappears it’s a free for all. And not in the way that our city’s law-breakers will like.”
To be sure, the New York Post is owned by News Corp., which includes Fox News among its portfolio of media organizations that just happen to be slanted to the right.
And yes, it is true that shoplifting has surged beginning during the pandemic and continuing through this period of exponential inflation.
But context matters.
Hence, it is also true that the U.S. has seen an uptick in vigilantism that has led to death in far too many instances. That was true in Louisiana where a store clerk shot and killed an armed robber Jan. 2. That clerk is now facing manslaughter charges.
In San Francisco, statistics show that the number of reported crimes is up more than 7% compared to this time last year. But a San Francisco Chronicle poll found that “homelessness” was the third-most serious problem in the city, ranking behind “crime and public safety.” That demonstrates how residents are able to make a clear discernment between homelessness and criminal activity.
Gwin, and Murray, clearly cannot.