LA County Sheriff Villanueva slams 'wokeism,' says it must go to make city 'livable again'

Villanueva reportedly expressed how law enforcement 'profession is under siege'

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, joined by sheriffs from two other southern California counties, said Saturday he hopes there’s a referendum on "wokeism" in 2022, arguing so-called "defunders" have wreaked havoc on public safety as evidenced by the worsening homeless and crime crisis.

In the past ten years, Los Angeles County has spent a conservative estimate of some $6.5 billion in addressing the homelessness issue, only to see the number of homeless people living in the county increase from about 39,000 people to more than 83,000 in that time frame, Villanueva said. 

There are some 5,700 homeless living on trains in Los Angeles, and last week, a dead man’s body remained riding through the MTA system for a six-hour time frame, Villanueva said.  

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"Woke-ism is on the ropes. Let’s put it out of its misery in 2022," Villanueva said Saturday. "My only goal is to make LA livable again." 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva gives details surrounding a weeklong, statewide operation aimed at combatting human trafficking, at a press conference held in Hall of Justice on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva gives details surrounding a weeklong, statewide operation aimed at combatting human trafficking, at a press conference held in Hall of Justice on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA.  ((Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images))

Speaking on stage during a tri-county sheriff’s forum, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus both said that unlike Villanueva, they have healthy working relationships with their Boards of Supervisors. But in Los Angeles County, the board in recent months has usurped Villanueva’s authority for refusing to enforce the county’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

The move, the sheriff reiterated Saturday, jeopardizes the jobs of some 4,000 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department members amid the crime wave and homeless crisis. 

Villanueva said he expected Los Angeles County to soon issue 45-day notices that pay will be suspended, accusing the county of bending state law to "suit their own needs." 

"The tragedy of Los Angeles besides their suicide pact they have going on with the city and the county is that they are not building capacity for mental health treatment, residential and substance abuse treatment," Villanueva said. "We have one quarter of the nation’s entire homeless population is in my county. I call that a problem. I just can’t convince the Board of Supervisors or City Council to understand it the same way."

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A jogger walks past a homeless encampment in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. A dead body was discovered on fire Tuesday morning near downtown Los Angeles.

A jogger walks past a homeless encampment in the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles. A dead body was discovered on fire Tuesday morning near downtown Los Angeles. ( (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File))

An off-duty deputy attending the forum told Fox 11 Los Angeles that like Villanueva, he feels the "profession is under siege." 

Besides the board, Villanueva called out Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon as allegedly contributing to the uptick in violent crime, including follow home and smash and grab robberies. 

Last year, the sheriff’s department had made arrests, conducted investigations, and presented evidence to prosecutors in 13,238 cases that the district attorney’s office later rejected because of "special orders," not a lack of evidence, Villanueva said. 

"We know very well how to fight criminals. What is unique to where we are now is we are fighting state government in our ability to be able to protect you," Bianco said Saturday, also outlining how law enforcement faces challenges at the state-level with Propositions 47 and 64. 

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Villanueva, a Democrat running for re-election in June, called on the audience to identify any "defunders" and ensure that this year regardless of party, candidates who support public safety are elected or reelected to public office at the national, state and local level in 2022. 

"The main tragedy of this county and city government in LA is they only allow one ideology, only one point of view on every single thing they do," Villanueva said. "I want to introduce conservative voices, moderate voices on both sides of the aisle, and I’m going to protect and defend the woke crowd, as confused as they may be, I’m still going to defend their right to have that ideology and opinion and I want them to have a seat at the table. They just don’t get to have every single seat."