It used to be that Congress were the biggest criminals in D.C. Now they have competition.
In February, Rep. Angie Craig was assaulted by a career criminal in the elevator of her D.C. building. The attacker, who had previously been busted 13 times for assault, decided to go for his 14th outing by punching the congresswoman in the face while trying to force her inside.
Rep. Crag, a Democrat who had once attended a Black Lives Matter rally, wisely refused to let her attacker inside her apartment and threw hot coffee at him instead. In that moment, Craig perhaps decided that Congress Lives Matter more than those of oppressed criminals.
Had Craig been armed, she might have done better than rely on her coffee remaining hot for self-defense, but last year she had complained that “attempts to address gun violence in this country have been stymied by gridlock, special interests and career politicians”.
D.C. isn’t suffering from “gun violence”, but from criminals running around on the loose.
Kendrid Hamlin, the congresswoman’s attacker, has a rap sheet dating back to his teenage years. At 26, he’s been in court thirteen times on assault charges which would add up to an average of more than once a year as an adult. Along the way he has faced drug charges, burglary and indecent acts and yet never spent more than a month at a time in prison.
“If you throw somebody in jail for 10 days and think, ‘There’s your punishment, and we’re going to let you right back on the street,’ what the hell do you think’s going to happen?” Rep. Craig said.
We know what’s going to happen, but it shouldn’t take attacks on members of Congress to do something about it. After her assault, Rep. Craig joined efforts to block the D.C. City Council’s proposals to effectively decriminalize a variety of crimes including carjacking.
On March 25th, Phillip Todd, the chief economist for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, was violently stabbed by a criminal who had just gotten out of prison 24 hours earlier.
So much for the security of the homeland.
The staffer was stabbed in the head resulting in injuries to the brain, as well as wounds to his chest and abdomen: some of which pierced his lungs.
Todd was working as a staffer for Senator Rand Paul. A statement by Sen. Paul noted that “a member of my staff was brutally attacked in broad daylight in Washington, D.C.” and asked for “privacy so everyone can focus on healing and recovery.”
Todd was repeatedly stabbed on H Street near a British pub and a block away from a Montessori school in what is described as an “artsy street with hip bars and restaurants” a mile and a half from the Capitol. Just the sort of place that D.C. staffers, many of them young and bored, would go to unwind, and that they probably considered safe even in a high-crime city.
In 2015, Senator Paul had declared that “mass incarceration” was the new Jim Crow. Paul complained that, “we are putting young black men in jail at a rate never before seen in history”. He teamed up with Kamala Harris to introduce a bill to effectively eliminate bail. Those were more naive times and he wasn’t the only Republican politician to fall for the siren song of “criminal justice reform” that has killed more Americans than the Iraq War.
Hopefully, like Rep. Craig, Sen. Paul has learned something from what happened to his staffer. Especially since in a recent op-ed, he fondly recalled his collaborations with Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker on “criminal justice reform” legislation as if they were a good thing.
Todd would have been better off if Glynn Neal, a violent pimp who had spent a decade behind bars for forcing women into prostitution, had stayed locked up. Mass incarceration is not racist, as Paul suggested, it saves lives and it’s the only thing keeping cities like D.C. livable.
This isn’t the first time that Congress had to suffer a wake-up call the hard way.
In 1992, Abbey McClosky, a 22-year-old trying to join the office of Senator Dodd, was walking home when she was brutally beaten and raped. What was left of her had been so badly battered that she could only be identified by her boots. After three days she died in the hospital.
The ‘superpredator’ who assaulted her had been out on parole after a series of assaults on women, including even a local councilwoman. He followed up the assault on McClosky by “crushing the eye socket of a 73-year-old woman”.
That year, Rep. Bob Traxler of Michigan was beaten unconscious and mugged for eight bucks a few blocks from the Capitol. Tom Barnes, a 25-year-old staffer for Senator Richard Shelby, was mugged and murdered while going to 7-11 for coffee.
Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota watched his wife assaulted in front of him near the Capitol by a released rapist who pointed a gun at him and dragged his wife for two blocks.
Conrad, who had been fairly liberal, turned more conservative. “I am ready to do something very serious about crime,” he declared in the Senate. “We have to get tough. People who commit violence need to be put away and need to be separated from the rest of us.”
Muggings of members of Congress and staffers became so common they were hardly reported.
“The number of members and staff people who have been mugged has created a sense of urgency in dealing with crime,” Rep. Chet Atkins, a Massachusetts liberal, who had been mugged in front of the Supreme Court, said.
Then Sen. John Kerry described having his cars stolen three times and fleeing a confrontation. “I am confident if I stayed out on the street, I might be a statistic today.”
It was this atmosphere that helped lead to the 1994 Crime Bill which did not go nearly far enough. And yet has been falsely smeared as “racist” by liberals and libertarians.
Congress had to feel the pain personally to finally do the right thing.
Now a new generation in congress like Rep. Craig and Sen. Paul are experiencing the reality of what pro-crime policies can do to a city and a country. Hopefully things won’t have to get as bad as they did in the early 90s before “criminal justice reform” gets tossed aside for “tough on crime”. But the latest round of violence is a warning that if Congress doesn’t act, criminals will.
Meanwhile, an old generation of D.C. lifers has forgotten the lessons of the 90s.
“We now do not go to the automatic teller after dark,” Sen. Joe Biden had complained in 1994. “My wife tells me we are not going to do the shopping on Friday nights anymore.”
In the White House, Biden, who now enjoys secret service protection, has overseen an administration and a party that panders to criminals. He’s forgotten the lessons of living in D.C., but the other criminals, the ones who mug individuals, not constituencies, who use guns instead of forms, are giving Congress a brand new lesson in crime.