Out in Oregon, Multnomah County has itself a new District Attorney. And since that’s the county that covers most of Portland, you’d expect that Mike Schmidt is going to be a pretty busy man, right? I mean, what with all of the stores being looted, buildings being set on fire and physical attacks on both civilians and the police in the streets, his dance card should be pretty full for his entire first term. Strangely enough, however, Schmidt doesn’t sound like he has all that much on his plate at the moment. When asked about upcoming cases, he told The Oregonian that his office doesn’t intend to prosecute many “protesters” because… well, he doesn’t make that part entirely clear. Let’s take a look.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced on Tuesday that his office will not prosecute many protesters who have been arrested during recent Portland demonstrations.
Schmidt said his office will presumptively decline to prosecute those whose most serious accusation doesn’t involve deliberate property damage, theft or the use or threat of force against someone else.
Charges that fall under that category include interfering with a peace officer, second-degree disorderly conduct and rioting, among others.
Those whose most serious accusation involves a city ordinance violation will also not be prosecuted.
Okay, so his initial statement was a bit misleading. Going into the details, Schmidt’s office doesn’t plan on prosecuting people for crimes that don’t include property damage, theft or the use of force against persons. So does that mean that’s just ignoring the actual peaceful protesters who march and carry signs but clear out of Dodge when Antifa and the criminals show up at sundown? Because if so, I’d be fine with that.
But we’re left with the impression that he’s not leaning entirely in that direction. He went on to say that people not in line for prosecution would include those accused of “interference with a peace officer” or “rioting.” There also won’t be any prosecutions for violations of city ordinances. Oh, really? Then why bother having those laws on the books if you’re not going to hold people accountable?
Schmidt goes on to say that he understands “the depth of emotion that motivates these demonstrations and support those who are civically engaged through peaceful protesting.”
That’s just more of the same old horse-hockey that we’ve grown accustomed to of late. Nobody is asking you to prosecute the actual peaceful protesters. There’s no reason to do that because the peaceful people aren’t breaking any laws. But you’ve got a massive backlog of people who do not fall into that category. And from the sound of it, most of them will never see a day in court, to say nothing of spending a night behind bars or paying a fine for the destruction they caused.
What this boils down to is the usual case of prosecutorial discretion for me, but not for thee. When the Bad Orange Man’s Justice Department doesn’t want to prosecute one of his buddies on whatever charges the Manhattan District Attorney has dreamed up this month, he’s undermining the rule of law and creating a constitutional crisis. But when The Obama DoJ opts to not prosecute Hillary Clinton’s top aide on charges of embezzlement, they’re just “focusing on more serious issues.”
This same principle is on display at the municipal level in cities around the country that are being torn apart by riots, looting and arson committed in the name of George Floyd or something. And from the sounds of things, that’s not likely to change in the near future.