AG Hill: Trump Is Right About The Riots

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 11:05 AM

By Op-ed by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

Attorney General Curtis Hill is sharing his thoughts on recent riots throughout the country.

Photo provided.

Op-ed by Attorney General Curtis Hill

The Wisconsin city of Kenosha is just the latest community to be, in President Donald Trump’s words, “ravaged by anti-police and anti-American riots." He visited the city Tuesday to promise his own unwavering commitment to stemming the violence and making cities safer.

The unrest has followed an Aug. 23 incident in which police shot Jacob Blake in the back after responding to a domestic incident. Blake, a Black man, is now paralyzed from his injuries. The details of this case will be adjudicated in a court of law, as they should be, and we must pray that justice will prevail.

But the lawbreakers who continue to wreak havoc in America’s cities with their rioting, looting and violent acts against others are perpetrating a devastating tragedy that will be much farther-reaching in its consequences than most of us can imagine.

The most obvious toll is seen in the deaths, injuries and property damage caused at the scenes of these crimes — whether in Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland or any of the numerous other urban centers victimized by the vicious mobs.

Beyond this horrific tangible loss, however, is a more abstract but equally tragic dimension — a deep wound to the American psyche that will take years to heal.

Ironically, the riotous criminal activity has done incalculable damage to the very causes many of the violent protesters claim to support — causes such as Black prosperity, racial reconciliation and social justice.

The riots have “deeply harmed the very marginalized communities that activists are trying to protect,” noted one writer in an Aug. 14 piece in the journal Foreign Policy. Such violence “only exacerbates deep-rooted polarization and stunts any meaningful conversation on police reform and racial discrimination… Moreover, minority communities have disproportionately borne the brunt of property destruction and reckless violence scourging American cities.”

When all is said and done, the riots of 2020 are likely to be more financially destructive than any similar outbreaks of urban unrest that came before them. The cost will be measured in billions of dollars, according to a Fox News story, and be greater than the inflation-adjusted $1.4 billion associated with the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which followed the acquittal of police officers charged with using excessive force against Rodney King.

We can and must talk about the underlying racial and socioeconomic issues at the heart of legitimate grievances among many Black Americans.

But when rioters are burning cities, assaulting bystanders and generally fomenting violence with little to no opposition, the calm conversations naturally take a back seat to the more pressing priority of restoring order.

President Trump understands this reality, which is why he is committing federal resources to helping cities across the nation take back streets that have been largely ignored by big-city mayors who have abdicated their primary responsibility: public safety. In his visit to Kenosha, President Trump pledged $1 million in federal funds to the city’s police, $4 million to help small businesses and more than $42 million to support public safety programs across Wisconsin.

Just days earlier, President Trump talked about quieter ways the federal government is helping cities take back their streets.

“Under my administration,” he said Aug. 31, “federal law enforcement is working with state and local authorities all over the country to comb through hours of video, track down rioters, looters, and arsonists, and bring them to justice.”

Imagine that — a president willing to do the job that too many big-city mayors are afraid to do.

“We’ve just come up with a report that we’ve arrested a large number of people,” Trump said. “It’s over 200. And you’ll be hearing about that, but they’ve been arrested in various cities throughout the United States. We’re doing it very low key, but we’re trying to help cities.”

While the President of the United States should not have to do the dirty work for the cowering leaders of many of America’s cities, we cannot allow organized or “random” acts of violence to rule the day or the United States.

“Rioting is a childish way of trying to be a man,” said the famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, “but it takes time to rise out of the hell of hatred and frustration and accept that to be a man you don't have to riot.”

Maslow’s appeal to masculine identity seems a bit out of vogue by today’s evolving standard, but the manifestation of virtue through strength and accountability is an absolutely vital component of our survival as a society.

Mob violence has no place in a free America and cannot be tolerated out of some misplaced notion of protest. Simply put, anyone engaging in mob violence should go straight to jail. Catch-and-release must end, and if big-city mayors won’t do it, then President Trump is ready to go in and defend our cities and support our police.

Curtis Hill is Indiana’s attorney general.


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