California governor admits LA looks like a 'third world country'

"What has happened on this stretch of the Union Pacific railroad is unacceptable," said Newsom.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom visited a stretch of Union Pacific railroad tracks that travels through Los Angeles which has been covered in trash mostly due to thieves looting packages off of train cars, describing the area as looking "like a third-world country."

Newsom was seen pitching in with clean up efforts, joining crew members from the state's Department of Transportation in collecting debris and placing it in trash bags or a dumpster, according to Fox News.

"What has happened on this stretch of the Union Pacific railroad is unacceptable," said Newsom, according to Fox 11. "We are committed to an all-of-government approach to prevent thefts, prosecute the criminals involved and clean up local communities."

Over the next few days, Newsom said that Caltrans cleanup crews will assist Union Pacific workers, and in the longer term, the California Highway Patrol will continue its efforts to coordinate with local law enforcement to help prevent theft on railways in Los Angeles.

"How do we make sure we don't have to keep coming back?" Newsom asked. "How do we secure this site? How do we do a better job in making sure that this doesn't have to continue to happen? This is the supply chain. I know all of us are focused down on the water, it's so damn beautiful, and everybody's just focused on containers at the ports, the supply chain."

But, Newsom noted, "that's just one part of the supply chain."

In December, Newsom proposed his Real Public Safety Plan, which in part looks to address rail-theft issues.

"The plan calls for bolstering local law enforcement response, supporting prosecutors and getting guns and drugs off the streets," Fox 11 reported.

It also included $255 million in grants to help California communities combat so-called "smash and grab" thefts at retail stores.

In connection to those thefts, Newsom said that "Two-hundred-80 people have been arrested. (But) there should be more. ... They need to be held to account. And we need to go after these fencing operations. We need to go after the back end of this."

Despite his push for curbing crime, some have claimed that his efforts to combat crime have been flawed and ineffective.

Earlier this week, Fresno County’s district attorney accused Newsom of being "ignorant" or a "liar" after the governor praised three crime-related state laws that were enacted while he served as lieutenant governor under fellow Democrat Jerry Brown, according to Fox News.

"It’s not deterring [crime], it's not preventing it," DA Lisa Smittcamp said about the Brown-era laws. "It's not doing anything to stop this, which is why it just keeps getting worse and worse and we keep seeing more bold behaviors, we keep seeing more criminals who are empowered."

"Criminals know how to exploit California’s policies for their gain," state Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, whose district includes northern Los Angeles County, told the Associated Press.


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