Ever since the late May death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police officers, a number of American cities have been devastated by riots and looting. The prospects for this getting any better any time soon are positively nil. What we’ve seen is a perfect storm of anarchist political violence, opportunist street criminals, and various anti-police activists demanding that law enforcement be disbanded or radically defunded and that will make these cities unlivable.
They are already losing police officers at an extraordinary rate. The NYPD has seen officers put in for retirement at an unprecedented rate. Seattle is bleeding so many blue uniforms that interim Chief of Police Adrian Diaz told a local radio station that public safety could not be maintained. At the same time the city council, which seats an actual self-identified socialist, is looking to take a meat cleaver and a flame thrower to the police budget.
And then there’s Portland. God help any cop who serves in that Oregon city. Portland has seen continual protests and scores of riots since the death of George Floyd. Almost all of the rioters march under the banner of anarchism and tearing down America and capitalism. The mobs can be heard shouting “Black Lives Matter.” But if black lives matter to Antifa, it’s a surprise to the African-American Portland police officer who told local news he almost caught an exploding fireworks mortar round with his face. Portland has become like a separate country in America. And it’s a hostile country. You’re more likely to see the American flag burning in downtown Portland than to see it flying.
Portland is just the most glaring example of what is happening in America’s cities. Between the COVID-19 lockdowns and the looting and burning, business is going to flee the cities. And the people who were willing to pay ridiculous rents and astronomical mortgages to live near those restaurants, and bars, and boutiques that have gone up in flames, had their windows smashed, or just had every shred of merchandise stolen will follow. Soon these cities will be in major decline. But their governments are not willing to do anything about it. They have no desire to rein in the mayhem, and they will not let their police do their jobs.
So businesses and affluent residents will flee to the suburbs, just like they did in Detroit long ago.
But this time the suburbs may not offer sanctuary for people seeking police protection and quiet nights. As I wrote this column, angry protests were underway in Vancouver, WA, the largest suburb of Portland. The mobs are in the streets because of what appears to be a very justified police shooting.
Then there’s Aurora, CO. A city of 325,000, Aurora is a suburb of Denver. And it’s also been the site of angry protests and riots over the 2019 in-custody death of Elijah McClain. The McClain incident became a cause for unrest when video of the arrest surfaced on social media in June and in the wake of the George Floyd death. Ever since the men and women of the Aurora PD have been catching it.
On July 3, some 600 members of an anti-police mob barricaded the Aurora officers in their District One station. They blocked off the streets with vehicles and debris to prevent police response, and they trapped 18 cops in the station for seven hours by sealing the doors with rope and wire. Five activists were charged in the attack.
And now Aurora police are being accused of backing down from enforcing the law.
In early September, a man reportedly committed a number of crimes in a local apartment complex, including throwing a rock through a sliding glass door and exposing himself to children. Police responded to 911 calls but no arrest was made, much to the astonishment of the residents who felt terrorized by the guy.
A week or so later, the Aurora PD’s tactical team dealt with a barricaded suspect inside a single family home. The suspect had reportedly taken his six-year-old daughter hostage. Once he released the daughter, the police packed up and left. No attempt was made to arrest him. Aurora PD justified this retreat saying the suspect was only wanted for a misdemeanor. What they didn’t know is the guy was wanted for felony kidnapping in another jurisdiction. At last report, he was still in the wind.
Now, I’m not here to slam the Aurora police. You and I both know they were following orders from politicians whose primary mission is not public safety but avoiding the use of force.
But you can’t police without using force. That’s why there are constitutional levels of force that you are allowed to use to take people into custody, to maintain public safety, and to protect yourself.
The mobs in the streets yelling to defund and abolish the police should be very happy. The depolicing of America is well under way.