When there are racially charged public demonstrations, there are methods for law enforcement to be engaged and to ensure that the protests proceed peacefully, without violence. The cities of Charlottesville and Baltimore are lessons in how not to do it. Let’s start with Charlottesville. The message from the top was this:
Chief Thomas’s response to the increasing violence on Market Street was disappointingly passive. Captain Lewis and Chief Thomas’ personal assistant Emily Lantz both told us that upon the first signs of open violence on Market Street, Chief Thomas said “let them fight, it will make it easier to declare an unlawful assembly.”
While there’s no doubt that Alex James Fields is responsible for using his car for terrorist purposes, he would not have been an issue had Charlottesville law enforcement done its job. You would think that authorities in Charlottesville would have learned something from the protests-turned-to-riots in Baltimore, where its mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, had a similar policy:
“I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” Rawlings-Blake said Saturday as Baltimore roiled following the funeral of Freddie Gray, the black man who died in police custody April 19.
“It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”
Perhaps we should blame Ms. Rawlings-Blake’s misspent years at Oberlin College for such nonsense or, better yet, her own basic stupidity for not understanding the difference between a protest and a riot. The only real difference between the two cities were the motives of those in charge. The Charlottesville police chief allowed violence to occur so as to declare a permitted public gathering illegal. For Ms. Rawlings-Blake, who knows WTF her motives were because who can explain her incomprehensibility. Anyways, the Charlottesville city council and law enforcement should have known better. There was a clear-cut case study just one state over.