Readers of this column know I’m not much for federal intervention in state affairs. Logic tells us the doctrine of State’s Rights is the way to go as local elected officials are the ones most in touch with what their citizens need.
But what happens when the states make a muck of it? What happens when community leaders worry more about their next election and appeasing dissidents and less about public safety?
The federal government has now inserted itself – albeit in a back door way – to try to restore some sense of security to besieged communities. Too bad it’s not in locations where riots have become a nightly event.
For three months, the city of Portland has been plagued by the violence of a band of roaming criminals who are fueled by unknown benefactors. Arson fires, looting, frightening harassment of innocent citizens and business owners, even murders are now commonplace.
Worse yet, left unchecked, this destructive Marxist-anarchist-led revolution has emboldened rioters in other cities. Hey, when local politicians order police to stand down, what’s to stop those bent on revolution?
In cities as disparate as Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, San Antonio and Lafayette, Louisiana, criminal mobs have staged destructive rampages. It is certainly acceptable if citizens want to peacefully protest, but when those demonstrations morph into senseless storms of destruction, then authorities must stop the violence immediately.
The most recent rioting took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following yet another police shooting of a Black man. Despite two nights of terrifying violence, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers refused the Republican president’s offer of federal troops. After the rioting escalated and two people were killed, Evers agreed his state needed federal assistance.
Can we please stop playing politics here?
Is this what America’s future looks like? How much more can average citizens and business owners be asked to endure?
In the meantime, the feds have quietly pushed ahead with “Operation Legend,” an anti-crime program that unleashed 1,000 federal agents to help round up violent career criminals. In just six weeks the operation – named for 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was shot as he slept in a Kansas City, Missouri, apartment — has resulted in almost 1,500 arrests in the nine cities in which it has been deployed.
So far, the operation has taken nearly 400 firearms off the streets, and at least 90 suspected killers were arrested. Others were charged with crimes that included drug trafficking, bank fraud and bank robbery, extortion, robbery, arson, carjacking and illegal possession of a firearm, many held by ex-cons.
The operation began in little LeGend’s hometown of Kansas City and expanded to Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee and St. Louis. Indianapolis was added most recently.
To be clear, Operation Legend is not focused on quelling the riots. It is focused on simply assisting local officers in what must seem like an overwhelming daily grind of good vs. evil. At least it’s a start.
But not every city has welcomed Operation Legend’s federal assistance. Chicago’s Democratic Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, declared she wouldn’t let federal troops in to “terrorize” the city. She later changed her mind after Chicago murders increased nearly 200%. Tim Keller, the Democratic Mayor of Albuquerque, a city the FBI reports has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average, derisively called the federal agents, “Trump’s secret police.”
Nonetheless, the feds activated the program to New Mexico’s largest city, and the roundup of criminals began.
Again, can we stop playing politics with public safety?
I am a believer in state’s rights. But if riotous lawlessness continues, it is entirely appropriate for the president – whoever it might be – to invoke the Insurrection Act and send in federal troops. Fifteen past presidents have done so.
In 1957, President Eisenhower sent thousands of troops into Little Rock to ensure school desegregation went forward as ordered by a federal court. In the ’60s, President Johnson dispatched federal troops several times to tamp down riots in five cities. There is plenty of precedent for the commander in chief to intercede – whether the governor of a state wants it or not.
Deployment of federal troops should be automatic during these troubled times. The besieged population has had enough. Damn the politics, citizens want peace.