When commenting on the increasingly-common eruption of violent mobs in our country, it is customary for elected officials to tread lightly.
There is often some throat clearing about the First Amendment, as if it is just so durned difficult to tell the difference between a genteel exercise of constitutionally-guaranteed free speech rights and a violent, vicious mob baying for blood.
With regard to the freshest riots over the death of Daunte Wright, President Biden, who rightly called the fatal shooting a tragedy, and urged waiting for the results of an investigation into the death (also a good idea), said this:
“But in the meantime, I want to make it clear again: There is absolutely no justification, none, for looting. No justification for violence. Peaceful protests? Understandable.”
How about condemning this kind of action in no uncertain terms, Mr. President?
In no way are these peaceful protests (the very term has become a gag line). Mobs are scary things, but a President who can’t do better than this is failing on a very basic level at keeping the peace.
How about some stern words for the rioters? How about dropping the pretense that these dangerous mobs are just “understandable” responses to injustice that might have gone a bit too far? Are our leaders afraid (now, that is understandable) of the mob?
The media also found it difficult to distinguish between a protest and a mob:
Outlets such as CNN, the Daily Beast, and the Washington Post all avoided the word “riot” in their initial coverage. The Washington Post chose an image of peaceful protesters with their hands across their chests standing in front of an armed officer to accompany their initial report on Sunday’s altercations.
CNN dedicated few lines to the damaged businesses.
On Monday night, CNN began its follow-up report by highlighting the police’s use of force: “Police fired tear gas and stun grenades Monday night as a crowd gathered to protest the killing of a Black man by a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb.”
The trend continued in cable news coverage Monday night. Despite showing clear signs of violence unfolding in Minneapolis, CNN’s chyron read, “New Protests After Police Shooting of Daunte Wright,” while MSNBC’s message read, “Renewed Protests After Police Killing of Black Man.”
Our hearts go out to Daunte Wright’s family and friends. My heart also goes out to Kim Potter, the officer who fatally shot Wright, who must live with this. We must wait for the results of the investigation, but there is strong evidence, at this point, that Wright’s death is the result of an accident.
Interestingly, Democrats have wasted no time scrambling to distance themselves from the response of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from Michigan, who said this of the shooting:
“It wasn’t an accident. Policing in our country is inherently [and] intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression [and] violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
I hate to be cynical, but could the unpopularity of the defund the police movement, which played badly in 2020, be the reason such Democrats as Tim Kaine have put daylight between themselves and Tlaib’s incendiary Tweet? As far as I know, none of the Democrats who scurried for cover after Tlaib’s inconsiderate bombshell went on to condemn riots.
In 12-step programs, the first step is to admit one has a problem.
If President Biden and other members of the Democratic establishment could bring themselves to condemn riots unequivocally, we’d have taken the first step. We can’t do much about riots until our leaders take the first step.
I am sure some rioters act with a terrible sense of righteous indignation (others are just pros). But we can’t begin to address this violence if politicians verbally coddle rioters and refuse to speak the truth.
The legal system also needs to take the first step.
At the time of his death, Daunte Wright had a pending case for aggravated robbery against him. This did not mean that Daunte deserved anything less than any other citizen, and the penalty for aggravated robbery is not death.
But what if Daunte’s case had been dealt in a more timely manner (the warrant was dated December 1, 2019)? What if Daunte had known the legal system addresses issues rather than allowing them to drag on?
It just might have saved Daunte’s life.