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by Laramie Boyd
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I'm bothered by some questions that have resulted from the recent police killings and civil
unrest taking place in several cities across America. I'm wondering how the rift between the law enforcement responsibilities and
requirements of the Police, and the civil rights of citizens, will be resolved. I believe Rodney King's "Can we all get along?" has
never been more to the point than it is at present.
I wonder whether blacks and whites
who are so ingrained in their prejudices will ever be able to live side by side peacefully and respectfully. I ask myself how long
the blacks will blame the whites for the ungodly treatment given some blacks in the Civil War years, as no white person alive today
was responsible for any of that treatment. And likewise do whites believe the blacks should forget the atrocities of the past and
Would there be less friction if more blacks joined the ranks of the Police
Department? Would an increase in the number of black Police in the high crime areas apt to result in fewer arrests of black law breakers,
or more of white violators? Should it be illegal to wear masks or other garments that make identification of law breakers impossible?
Would forcing policemen to attend "Getting Along With Other Ethnic Groups" in-service training classes really help solve existing
law enforcement tensions? Can you really "teach" people not to be prejudiced? Should news commentators and social activists who use
inflammatory riot-inducing dialogue be subject to arrest?
I wonder, what specific actions
or events will stop the rioting? Will time alone be the deciding factor, when one day the unlawful protestors just tire out? I ask
myself, "What do the rioters want?" You can't go back and re-live and change the events that led to the arrests, the grand jury, the
choke-holds and shootings, so what will put an end to the robbing, the unlawful entry, the fire bombing, and the other destruction
of private and public property? I'm sure most Americans, but for the criminal element among the protestors, want this to end.
Some years ago William F. Buckley said, he "would rather be ruled by people with the first hundred names in the Boston phone book
than a hundred Harvard professors." I believe what he meant was that people who live in "ivory towers," such as our "leaders" in Washington,
and others, can't relate to the problems the rest of society lives with day in and day out, so their judgment and recommendations
on how to solve these problems should be suspect, to say the least. And so I hope the lawmakers in Congress aren't thinking about
passing laws that control the way arrests are made and suspects are detained in a way that would reflect how out of touch they are
with the reality of the situation and how vulnerable they are to pressure groups and lobbyists.
Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at
the Hoover Institution, shares his take on the current struggle between the criminal element of the protestors and those that are
sworn to "serve and protect." He reminds us that "Laws are not meant to punish people on preconceptions, or based on the passions
or rhetoric of others, but rather on the facts of the individual case." He points out the truth of, "If people who are told they are
under arrest cannot be forcibly taken into custody, and will not come with the police, then we will not be living under the rule of
law, which is a government of law and not of men." We would instead be "downgraded to just offering suggestions to suspects that no
one has the power to enforce."
Sowell cautions, "For people who have never tried to take
into custody someone resisting arrest, to sit back in the comfort of their homes or offices and second guess people who face the dangers
inherent in that process - dangers for both the Police and the person under arrest - is yet another example of some of the irresponsible
self - indulgences of our time." We must keep civil rights active and lawful, while assuring that it is not just the lawbreakers that
have rights, but victims should have equal rights also. Just in case it matters, Thomas Sowell is a black man.
The image of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of "protestors" roaming city streets, downtown or in residential areas, can be frightening.
Watching angry groups of people smashing windows, stealing store goods, throwing rocks, turning over burning Police cars, these scenes
can bring the issue of the rule of law and order close to home. Consider what happens at the end of a day of this lawlessness. Where
do the rioters go? Do they go home, where they close their doors and feel safe? Do they feel safe because they know the law abiding
citizens of the community won't be prowling the streets to loot or burn their possessions. They know they are protected by the very
institution they are protesting against: the law enforcement agencies. For the most part, if you are minding your own business, not
violating any laws, the chances of having confrontations with the Police are miniscule. This is the very rule of law the protestors
are challenging that makes them feel safe in their home. I wonder if the majority of the protestors really feel good about what they
are doing, if they think about it at all. Do they really want the fabric of the United States of America, that is, to obey the law
or change it, peacefully, if it's a bad law? Does this majority really want America to be like so many other countries in the world,
where every so often a new government takes over, probably no better than the one deposed? Shouldn't they be helping to quell the
real trouble makers, the thugs, the criminals, the low-life punks who are seeking nothing but angry destruction, rather than joining
in the parade of violence? The violent instigators of crime in the protests aren't the least bit interested in justice. They want
mob rule. And, sadly, the President of the United States is taking a backseat to all of this. He is not forcefully coming out denouncing
the lawlessness of the rioters. He should be, at the top of his voice, decrying the rioting, not just standing by, almost mute, watching
and waiting for who knows what. Shouldn't he be a spokesperson for the majority of Americans who are against lawless rioting, since
they favor peaceful rebellion? Instead, he is soft on the rioting lawbreakers, insinuating that they might just have a cause to violate
the law. The President should stand up and denounce, in no uncertain terms, those who are ravaging private and public property. He's
soft on the illegal immigrants from Mexico. He's soft on Communist Cuba. He's soft on releasing prison inmates. Sometimes I wonder
if he knows what country he is the president of and that he should "serve and protect" it.
"I have a dream" for the President, and that is to focus on settling the civil unrest that is going on under his nose. He should do
what he has to do to help quell the violence that might possibly be getting out of hand. Let's hope that letting it get out of hand
is not what he has had in mind since the beginning of his term, to get revenge for what he imagines are unforgivable crimes against
blacks in the past. But if that is not the case, and pray it isn't, then there could be no better legacy for Barack Obama to leave
behind than to have a peaceful resolution of the grave situation America is in at present.