Friday, October 13, 2023

Today in random fearmongering

 Dear local fishwrap:

If you want me to take the bait in your lede seriously:

Four men from Chile were charged last week in connection with robberies and assaults at two jewelry stores in Oakland County, according to police in Auburn Hills and Troy.

Try not to knock it down in the second graf:

The charges, involving retail stores, don't match the scenario of "transnational gangs" targeting upscale houses, as described in a recent warning by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

But ... but ... there's still a trend here, right?

On Thursday, Oct. 5, President Joe Biden said he was suspending federal regulations to allow adding about 20 more miles to the controversial border wall begun by the Trump administration, although Biden said he was required by law to approve the construction and did so reluctantly. On Oct. 1, the governor of New York, a Democrat, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” she strongly favored a tighter border.

“It is too open right now,’’ Gov. Kathy Hochul said of the U.S. border with Mexico, where an estimated 200,000 to 260,000 migrants entered the U.S. in September alone, according to national reports.

On Sept. 29, Bouchard issued a warning about migrants that made national news in conservative media. Bouchard warned of “transnational gangs” of migrants, which he said were breaking into upscale houses that back up to golf courses and wooded areas in Oakland County and elsewhere, although he said he couldn’t reveal whether any such suspects had been arrested in metro Detroit. 

True enough, in its own way. "Conservative media" (citing a Detroit TV station) even quoted the sheriff as saying a similar gang (similar to what, neither he nor the tabloid Post indicated) had struck in New York. “'They typically hit homes from 5 to 9 p.m., they seem to want houses where nobody’s home, and they usually come in through windows in the back,' the sheriff added."

But that doesn't deter (sorry) the local paper:

The four Chilean men arraigned last week in Oakland County have been charged with crimes that don’t fit Bouchard’s scenario but their arrests still add to unease about migrants. The four were charged with armed robbery, felonious assault, and malicious destruction at two jewelry retailers. The charges came after two smash-and-grab strikes, one at the MJ Diamonds store inside Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 11, a second at the jewelry department inside Macy’s at Oakland Mall in Troy at 5:42 p.m. on Aug. 24, according to Auburn Hills police. 

True and -- OK, let's be charitable and say "crudely speculative in the manner of 'conservative media,'" respectively. In other words, they're unlikely to "add to unease about migrants" unless you tell people to add it to their unease. And if you're wondering why a robbery in August is related to a Biden statement nearly eight weeks later, hold that thought:

... Officers who investigated the robbery at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets decided the likely getaway vehicle was a black Kia Soul. Its ownership was traced to Aguilar-Mondaca.* Those officers notified the FBI/Oakland County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force, whose members include investigators from Auburn Hills and Troy police. They began conducting surveillance at Oakland Mall. Surveillance on Aug. 24 showed three subjects, all wearing masks, arriving in a black Kia Soul to enter Macy’s.

So someone owning reasonably spiffy SUV had it registered somewhere in or near the second-wealthiest county (by median income) in Michigan, and the cops set up surveillance at another mall, and ... tell me how this is related to the conservative-media-stoked "unease"?

In the days before the Oakland County sheriff issued his warning about gangs of migrant thieves, a nationwide coalition of sheriff departments — the American Sheriff Alliance — met in San Diego to issue a “call for action at the border due to the heightened threat picture,” the group said in a news release. The release said that the swelling torrent of migrants had brought a 906% increase in “individuals found to be on the Terrorist Watch List” since 2017, “and there are still three months left in 2023” to increase that number. 

If you're forming an impression that these characters -- and we can go ahead and repeat that they're charged in two violent armed robberies -- appear to have little to do with either the "swelling torrent" or the Terrorist Watch List, that seems fair. It's very much the impression given by the story, and it seems rather a shame that someone didn't notice that mismatch before hitting the "publish" button on this bit of random fearmongering.

* One of the suspects, but you've probably figured that out.


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