The tragic death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis policeman in May triggered widespread demonstrations which succeeded in raising national awareness of the need for policing reforms in America. Many of the reforms such as a ban on the use of chokeholds, restrictions on the use of excessive force and better training have already been implemented or started in many jurisdictions and more will soon be as we continue to re-examine policing methods. Some of the demands, however, were plainly unrealistic such as defunding or eliminating police departments which would heavily impact minority communities already suffering from high crime rates. More extensive training and recruitment methods will require more, not less, funding and even larger police forces may be required as violent crime increases in many urban areas.
Meanwhile, many peaceful demonstrations and protest marches attracted some persons who were anything but peaceful. Informed by social media, outside agitators, mostly White, included extremists who latched on to the Black Lives Matter movement to sow chaos and fear in pursuit of their own extremist ideology which had little to do with saving Black lives. The organizers of “peaceful” demonstrations and the many who participated to show their support for the movement simply became their “useful idiots” in gathering the crowds necessary to generate the mobs they would need to produce violence and destruction.
The great majority of the demonstrations remained mostly peaceful but too many turned violent after dark. Typically, it would be begin gradually. Slogans would turn to taunts which became threats and obscenities. Marches became standoffs with police. Streets and sometimes highways would be blocked. More aggressive protestors would get directly in the faces of policeman calling them pigs and worse. Someone would throw a rock, a bottle, aim a laser at their eyes and perhaps shoot some fireworks. More would join in, attempting to provoke the police to react. Fires would be started in dumpsters and trash cans. Store windows would be smashed. Looting would begin. Vehicles and buildings would be set ablaze. It doesn’t take much to inflame a mob and the organizers of the demonstration, which began so peacefully and with the noblest of intentions earlier that day, were clueless on how to prevent the chaos.
The silence of liberals and their mainstream media regarding this violence in so many of our cities was deafening. Only when President Donald Trump seized upon it as a campaign issue did their condemnations begin and they were subdued. They also come too late. They were typically accompanied by the observation that most of the demonstrations were peaceful. But this isn’t about the demonstrations, it’s about the riots that sometimes followed and riots are never peaceful. Neither is spitting into the faces of police officers and calling them pigs who need to be fried like bacon. A recent liberal media report calculated that only 7% of the demonstrations nationally had actually turned violent, as if that were good news. Ask the peaceful citizens in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, New York, Kenosha and Washington, D.C. and elsewhere whose businesses and livelihoods were destroyed if they take any comfort in that statistic. And wouldn’t you just know it, all of those riots occurred in cities with Democrat mayors.
The consequences of this “minor” violence includes hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to public and private property, death or injury to dozens of innocent people including police, a huge increase in violent crime due to reduced police presence and a hesitation to act for fear of further inflaming a situation, a lack of confidence on the part of citizens in the ability of local law enforcement to protect them, a large increase in gun ownership and ammunition sales, plunging morale and increased retirement and voluntary termination among law enforcement personnel including a number of Black police chiefs , decreased respect for laws because of lack of enforcement and prosecution, lost jobs, an abundance of boarded-up storefronts and office vacancies in many cities as many businesses and affluent taxpayers leave crime- infested cities, a loss of sympathy and support for the Black Lives Matter movement and a prevailing sense of fear for the future of our communities and perhaps our nation itself. And this is just a partial list. If the Russians or Chinese tried their hardest to sow fear and distrust among our people on the eve of an election they could hardly match the damage we have already done to our own country and its international reputation.
Earlier this month, two Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs sitting in their patrol car were shot in the face at point blank range by a thug. After they were rushed to a hospital, demonstrators blocked the entrance and someone shouted “We hope they die!” The others roared approval. This has gone far enough. This is pure hatred. We have permitted it to be OK to hate the police. It is simply evil and there will be more of it if we continue to allow law enforcement to be demonized. By failing to enforce the law in Democrat-controlled cities, we have diminished respect for the law in general and no one will be safe. When police are not empowered to be pro-active in preventing crime, criminals will commit crimes simply because they know they can and people will have no choice but to take their own measures to protect their families and homes.
As the long blue line grows shorter and thinner, we must, before it is too late, draw a red line which may not be crossed. Laws - all laws - must be enforced and there must be consequences for breaking them. Otherwise, people will simply pick and choose which laws, if any, they intend to obey. This is not the way that most Americans want to live. Local government officials who have allowed crime to flourish in their cities and who have failed in their fundamental requirement to keep their citizens, including police, safe, need to be voted out of office if not asked to resign. Failure to act is surrender to chaos.
Dr. Kelly is a freelance writer and retired Navy Captain who commanded three San Diego-based ships, the Navy Personnel research and Development Center and taught ship handling, seamanship and navigation at Naval Base San Diego. He earned his doctorate at USD, taught graduate students and was senior vice-president and Director of Training and Development at Great American Bank. He has written over 1500 newspaper and journal articles and has been a regular contributor to the Eagle & Journal since 2001.