Uhhhhh … second look at Joe Kennedy? Forget defunding or abolishing the police, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) declared this morning. Let’s just disarm them and let nature take its course.
Not only does Markey want police disarmed from “weapons of war,” he also wants them stripped of non-lethal force as well (via Twitchy):
Portland police routinely attack peaceful protestors with brute force. We must disarm these officers, and every other police department in America, of weapons of war, and enact a nationwide ban on tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets, and bean bag rounds. https://t.co/PDZcjhmSLB
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) September 14, 2020
There might be “brute force” on the streets in Portland, but it’s not coming from the police. For almost four months, rioters have taken control of the streets, lobbing Molotov cocktails at public buildings, and assaulting law enforcement with commercial-grade fireworks and powerful lasers intended to blind them. The wildfires in Oregon have pushed those riots off the front pages in the state’s media, but the wildfires may be yet another front in the rioting:
A man is facing charges after Portland police say he used a Molotov cocktail to ignite a brush fire along Interstate 205 near East Burnside Street Sunday.
Officers responded to a reported brush fire in the 9600 block of East Burnside Street shortly after 4:30 p.m. In the area, they found a section of grass along the I-205 freeway was burning.
Firefighters extinguished the flames.
About an hour later, a witness contacted officers and pointed out the suspect accused of starting the fire; he was in a nearby tent. The suspect, 45-year-old Domingo Lopez, Jr., admitted he lit the fire using a plastic bottle with a wick and police arrested him.
Police came in handy in this instance, no? When it comes to brute force, though, Markey has made his choice of team pretty clear. Markey has teamed up with Bernie Sanders to strip law enforcement at all levels of the use of non-lethal options when it comes to crowd control:
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced legislation to ban the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by law enforcement. The No Tear Gas or Projectiles Act would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement officers’ use of tear gas and rubber bullets by banning federal officers’ use of riot control agents and kinetic impact projectiles, and by restricting the allocation of federal funding to state and local entities that do not ban riot control agents and kinetic impact projectiles. The legislation also creates a civil penalty for law enforcement officers who violate the prohibition, as well as establishes a private right of action for their victims. The Chemical Weapons Convention bans the use of riot control agents – including tear gas – in warfare, but U.S. law enforcement can still use them against civilians.
“Our streets are not meant to be battlefields, and law enforcement shouldn’t be using weapons of war against protestors and other Americans,” said Senator Markey. “Law enforcement’s use of tear gas also compounds the effects of structural racism, because we know communities of color are already suffering disproportionately during this global respiratory pandemic. It’s time we stop using these potentially lethal weapons against our own people. I thank Senator Sanders for his partnership on this legislation and urge our colleagues to join us in protecting the health and rights of the American people.”
The “private right of action” clause would allow lawsuits against the police officers, their departments, and their cities if those options get used. That would put police even more on the defensive, as well as eliminate practically all methods for re-establishing order when demonstrations turn illegal and/or violent. Other than tasers or handguns (maybe!), local police and sheriff’s deputies would have nothing other than bullhorns and a lot of bluffing to put an end to rioting.
Riots, by the way, damage the health and rights of the American people. Just ask those who endured Seattle’s CHAZ, or the Minneapolis riots, as well as the spike in crime that has followed in major American cities.
Markey’s picking a very good moment to make this pitch, although some of his fellow Democrats might disagree. They’re choosing the rioters just before Americans choose their next set of elected representatives. Forbes’ Seth Cohen warns Black Lives Matter organizers today that rioting in Lancaster over a completely justified shooting might cost Joe Biden Pennsylvania and the election:
In other words, the circumstances of the death of Ricardo Munoz is not, on the surface, the same as the deaths of George Floyd, Daniel Purdue, and others. Yet the violent protests in reaction to the incident are the same as they have been in other cities like Minneapolis, Rochester and elsewhere.
And that’s a problem for both the Biden campaign, and the broader Black Lives Matter movement leaders who have defended anti-police protests as legitimate expressions of anger at unjust police actions.
The obvious fact is, not every police-officer initiated shooting is the same, and reacting to each one with similar violent protests is not only wrong, but it is shortsighted. Conflating incidents like the one that just occurred in Lancaster with ones where there is much greater evidence of police misconduct dilutes both the power and the purpose of rightful outrage against unjustified police actions. Riots like those that occurred overnight in Lancaster also play into the hands of those who are claiming that the anti-police protestors don’t discern between the conduct of police who are doing their job, and those who are acting improperly or in a racially-motivated manner.
That’s because they don’t distinguish between the two. They don’t even bother to wait for the opportunity to discern the difference. Democrats like Markey and Sanders are so busy climbing aboard that bandwagon that they don’t bother to do so either, instead proclaiming “systemic racism” and demanding that police stand down in the face of public unrest.
Cohen warns that a reckoning will come soon:
All eyes will be focused on how Biden addresses the incident, and how he explains to the American people where the line between proper protests and the need for law and order should be drawn. As the campaign hits its stretch run, Biden must address this issue, and the protests in Lancaster, like his election depends on it….
Because it likely does.
Let’s hope it does. Markey and Sanders have thrown in with the rioters, and voters can now conclude that only one party is actually interested in enforcing the law and keeping the peace. The more this continues, the more that will be the question that decides the election.