ABC7 – Bay Area:
A distinction without a difference?
Bay Area police departments have called what happened at various retail stores this weekend “looting.”
We saw similar crimes happen in the wake of the George Floyd protests, but are the past weekend’s crimes truly considered looting?
Race and Social Justice Reporter Julian Glover is here to give us some context of looting.
“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,” Julian says.
“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.
Chief Scott was detailing his department’s response to a wave of potentially organized retail thefts and burglaries netting a million dollars in stolen luxury goods.
A San Jose Police Department spokesman updated the media on incidents of theft occurring in the South Bay over the weekend.
“We are talking about two incidents, we’re not going to call this looting. This is organized robbery. That’s what it is,” said Sergeant Christian Camarillo, public information officer for San Jose Police.
Camarillo was referring to the $40,000 in merchandise stolen from Lululemon in Santana Row Saturday.
Similar crimes hit Hayward and Walnut Creek this weekend with waves of suspects rushing stores leading to major losses.
But according to the California Penal Code, what we saw was not looting.
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.”
To some, the distinction may be small, but Lorenzo Boyd, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice & Community Policing at the University of New Haven, and a retired veteran police officer, emphasized that words matter.