Sunday, August 13, 2017

Breakdown of law in Charlottesville

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Kudos to the many official spokespeople, including Republican senators, who have denounced the white supremacist-initiated terror attack on counter protesters in Charlottesville. In a time when norms of decency are breached so often, even this counts as a Good Thing.

But following up on my last post on the fragility of the rule of law in this moment, we need to attend to these contrasting descriptions of the scene:

Brittany Caine-Conley, a minister in training at Sojourners United Church of Christ, who had come with other faith leaders to protest against the white nationalists, said she was horrified to see officers in the park watching the violence take place outside in the street.

“There was no police presence,’’ she said. “We were watching people punch each other; people were bleeding all the while police were inside of barricades at the park watching. It was essentially just brawling on the street and community members trying to protect each other.”

... [Virginia] Governor [Terry] McAuliffe also defended the police response, saying, “It’s easy to criticize, but I can tell you this, 80 percent of the people here had semiautomatic weapons.

“You saw the militia walking down the street, you would have thought they were an army,” he added. “I was just talking to the State Police upstairs; they had better equipment than our State Police had,” he said, referring to the militia members. “And yet not a shot was fired, zero property damage.”

Note: McAuliffe is a Democrat, at least notionally one of the good guys. He literally owes his election to Virginia's communities of color. But he's saying that police standing off in a lawless situation because they were outgunned by white supremacists is fine. What if the neo-Nazis had been a more organized terror force? Would Governor McAuliffe have felt his law enforcement apparatus could just watch? Virginia makes it legal for anyone to carry a gun openly without a permit. Is this Second Amendment absolutism outweighing the right of all citizens to expect the state to protect them from violent private actors? Sure looks like it to me.

2 comments:

Brandon said...

Everyone's trying to have it both ways. As you pointed out, McAuliffe condemns the white supremacists but didn't order the police to do more. And you-know-who denounced violence but was obtuse and vague. Yes, antifas do get physical, and the SPLC has questioned whether they actually hurt the anti-racist movement, but it was a white nationalist who drove his car into the crowd.

Hattie said...

Everybody's scared.

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