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America Needs the Police,
America Needs Leaders
Barry MacDonald, Editorial
Amidst the ongoing contagion and resurgence of COVID-19 infections, there has been a cascade of terrible news in America. The tragic and unjustifiable death of George Floyd triggered an awful series of events. The manner in which George Floyd died was horrible, and he certainly didn’t deserve the treatment he received. America grieves for him and for his family.
Since George Floyd’s death on May 25, chaos has been unleashed across America, and we have witnessed widespread violence. The mayhem has been spiraling out of control and into madness that is transforming the nation. The initial impetus was a protest of police brutality, but within days riots and lootings arose in Minneapolis and have spread to other major metropolitan areas. A conflagration of rage has been set loose that has become entirely untethered to the memory of George Floyd.
Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, made a catastrophic display of weakness in the face of rioters when he ordered the Minneapolis police to abandon the third precinct, which was subsequently burned to the ground. Mayor Frey signaled that there would be no response to mob violence.
Also, at a moment of culminating crisis, Bill De Blasio, the mayor of New York City, made a needlessly inflammatory statement that was broadcast nationwide. De Blasio said: “George Floyd was killed because he was black” — thus De Blasio exacerbated an already volatile situation. De Blasio’s words poured gasoline on a fire.
In Minneapolis, peaceful protests during the day were followed in the evening by the actions of a more determined sort of people who intended wanton destruction. Rioters burned and looted local businesses and restaurants, the very businesses that local people depended on for services. After several days of dithering confusion, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz finally deployed the National Guard to disperse the mob with a show of force and with tear gas. However, a conflagration had been sparked by the governor’s waffling: his vacillation did not appease the mob, but instead only indulged and encouraged the mob.
What has followed has been a month of copycat riots erupting across America, in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, and in many other cities. More than 300 hundred police officers were injured in two weeks of riots in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio responded with confusion and indecision, as neither the governor nor mayor were moved to deploy the National Guard, even though it was apparent that the police were outnumbered and incapable of quelling the mob using only the limited techniques they were allowed to use. The New York City Police Department is reputed to be one of the best in the U.S., and perhaps the police could have controlled the streets, but under the mayor’s orders they were not allowed to exert the full measure of force they are capable of.
Also under the “no bail” policy in effect in New York, many of the rioters were released back onto the streets almost as soon as they were arrested — which must infuriate and dispirit both the police and law-abiding citizens.
There has been a long history of animus between Mayor De Blasio and the New York City police, whom the mayor has repeatedly branded as racist. Taking advantage of the intense anti-police emotion of protestors and rioters, Mayor De Blasio and the New York City Council decided to defund the police by $1 billion a year, redistributing the money to other social services. This gesture of appeasement did not mollify the mob, as evidenced by the statements made by a gathering of agitators who are presently camping on the streets near City Hall, and who are calling themselves the “Occupy City Hall” protestors. The “City Hall” occupiers are complaining that the $1 billion funding cut is not enough.
This summer, all across America we are seeing repeated standoffs between the police and rioters. Lines of police are standing in riot gear — in the summer heat — composedly and bravely absorbing the vilest verbal abuse that the mob can hurl at them. It is a sad and a frightening spectacle. The police en mass are living up to the highest of ethical standards. They are following orders and showing restraint. They are quiet and strong under seemingly unendurable pressure. They have the ability to quickly quell any disturbance, but they are following orders. They are absorbing abuse from a motley assortment of arrogant louts and criminals.
And hardly any elected officeholder in America is willing to support them or to praise their heroic efforts. The police seem to be on their own, with very few defenders. Is it any wonder that there’s a surge of retirements among them?
Seeing the police facing the mobs alone is frightening, because it seems that they are all that stands between civilized society and the mob. What would happen to America if the police were stretched to a breaking point, and they began to lose faith with their fellow citizens? What would happen if they began to walk off the job? What would we do if we couldn’t enlist enough young recruits to replace them?
With the exception of our bellicose and resilient President Donald Trump, few politicians are defending the rule of law, equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, the ideal of a colorblind society, the right to hold private property, and the right to the security and safety of one’s property and person. All of these precious American ideals are up for grabs in the coming election in November. If we want to preserve our constitutional republic, and if we believe we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights — the rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness — we have no choice but to dominate and defeat these mobs.
In their dithering confusion, what are Republican senators doing? They seem to be like Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey when he abandoned the third police precinct to the whims of the mob. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. But Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) are concerned about the extra expense and the loss of productivity that comes with adding another federal holiday to the calendar. Senators Johnson and Lankford have proposed an amendment to the bill to eliminate Columbus Day and add Juneteenth. The senators believe that Columbus Day isn’t much celebrated anymore — so why not forget it?
Instead of defending hallowed American institutions, Republican senators are hoping to mollify the mob. *