Wealth & Poverty Review Chaos by the Bay

San Francisco responds to the coronavirus with an experiment in lawlessness. Originally published at City Journal

An odd pattern has emerged in San Francisco as the city responds to the Covid-19 pandemic. The world of the well-off has become tightly restricted by public quarantine orders, and the world of the poor increasingly resembles that of Mad Max — lawless, crime-ridden, and devoid of functioning authority.

Over just a few weeks, San Francisco has instituted a policy that can be described as “decarcerate, decriminalize, and depolice.” Reducing the jail population, permitting public camping and other forms of disorder, and scaling back police presence in low-income neighborhoods have always been the favored policies of San Francisco’s progressive activists. In the past, residents and business groups could restrain the most extreme impulses of the political class. Now, with the coronavirus providing cover, city leaders have pushed forward their agenda with new vigor.

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