The wildfires ravaging California right now are horrifying. As of Wednesday morning's news reports, at least 50 people have died, an additional 200 are reported missing, and more than 9,000 buildings have been destroyed. A new blaze to the east of Los Angeles ignited overnight Tuesday, meaning the West Coast may not get a reprieve anytime soon.
California residents from all strata of society are suffering, but because many of the threatened residences—particularly those in the line of the Woolsey fire near Malibu—belong to the rich and famous, a lot of attention is being paid to celebrities affected by the fire. Most are focused on lending a hand. After their own home burnt to the ground, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth donated $500,000 to disaster relief on Tuesday. Lady Gaga was spotted visiting displaced residents at a Red Cross shelter Sunday night.
As it often happens during times of duress, many evacuated communities are being targeted by looters. Pink’s husband Carey Hart and his gun-toting neighbors seem particularly concerned that thieves are coming for their Lambos and flat screens, so they took it upon themselves to defend their homes like a cul-de-sac militia.
On Tuesday, the former professional freestyle motocross competitor posted a photo on his Instagram of a bunch of masked dudes with rifles standing behind a sign that reads, “Looters will be shot on site! [sic] P.D.C. Posse.” (It seems to stand for “Point Dume Community Posse,” which is not the most intense name the gang of gun-toting vigilantes could’ve chosen.)
Hart captioned the picture with, “It’s unfortunate that some people take advantage of others in a crisis. [...] Well, if you are a looter, think twice if you are heading back into malibu. #DefendYourLand #2ndamendment.” He commented that he’s not one of the masked guys pictured, saying they’re “a group of locals I used to live by.”
Gun rights advocates were quick to back Hart, but many people condemned the father of two for seemingly endorsing murder as a suitable punishment for theft. Instagram user @galacticghoul commented, “This is disgusting and supports a classist idea that material goods are worth more than people’s lives. Using a gun to protect your *life is one thing. Using a gun to protect your property, which can be replaced, is barbaric and gross. [...] there is zero excuse for sending out this sort of message.”
Some called Hart’s stance aggressive and toxic—especially in America, where easy access to guns and deep-seeded racism is an all-too-often lethal combination. "Unfortunately, there is a lot wrong with this picture and it really goes against what you speak to in your insta posts. Pretty much sums up what's wrong with America. Looters or not," user @asiamargophotogarphy commented, to which Hart replied, "When there is a situation like this with no laws, it's time to protect yourself."
Pink has been notably silent in the wake of her husband’s threats. On Monday, she retweeted Ellen DeGeneres, who posted, “One of the reasons I love the firefighters, first responders and the people of California, is we don’t place blame or make threats. We come together, and we take care of each other. (Now more than ever.) #Thankstho.”
Maybe Hart should start taking cues from someone like DeGeneres. In the meantime, while we hope Pink and Hart’s home stays safe and avoids being ransacked, here’s hoping they both get a clue and choose to help some of the Californians who have lost everything in the fires, instead of clinging to their wealth under threat of deadly force.
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