Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

The Charlottesville City Council, City Manager and Police Chief have been tearing themselves apart with blame shifting as citizens demand accountability for the passive behavior of the police force that appeared to “stand down” as the white supremacist rally on Aug. 12 spiraled out of control. Nexus Caridades Attorneys Inc., an Augusta County law firm focusing on social justice issues, announced its intention to file suit against the city for failing to intervene. And at a town hall meeting last week, a crowd of some 300 gathered to vent social justice concerns and lacerate city officials for their failure to prevent the violence.

So, it was with particular interest that I read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article today explaining how the Charlottesville police had changed its tactics during the Aug. 12 rally after receiving a similarly blistering criticism from the social-justice set for its “militarized response” to a a previous KKK rally on July 8.

In the smaller July rally, which never received much attention outside Charlottesville because no one was injured or killed, the KKK presence protesting the remove of the Robert E. Lee statue had prompted a counter rally. As Ned Oliver and Graham Moomaw described the event:

Police officers outfitted with riot helmets and shields formed two lines, parting the sea of anti-racist protesters to create a path for the Klan. After the KKK rally was over, riot police formed up to disperse protesters lingering in the road, eventually firing three tear gas canisters to force the crowd to leave.

Notably, there were no deaths or injuries in July. But that didn’t prevent a storm of outrage among the social justice warriors. Activists and residents berated Council at its next meeting. Writes the T-D:

“We have profound concerns with the militarized law enforcement presence on July 8, with police wearing riot gear, driving armored vehicles and carrying weapons typically reserved for war zones,” said Mary Bauer, the executive director of the LegalAid Justice Center and one of a dozen speakers to criticize the city’s handling of the KKK rally.

“We ask the city to acknowledge that this choice to use these kinds of tactics instead of planning for de-escalation is inconsistent with Charlottesville’s values and good policing. …

At the same meeting activist Jalane Schmidt handed [Mayor Mike] Signer an emptied tear gas canister she said had been launched at her during the really. “You dropped something, councilor,” she said. … “This has to stop, this militarization of the police. When there’s militarization, the inevitable result is violence. To a hammer, everything’s a nail.”

And to a social justice warrior, everything’s a cause for outrage. No matter what the police do, they’re wrong.

As it turns out, the Charlottesville police appear to have taken the criticisms to heart. They did not gear up for a riot. They did not physically separate the white supremacists from the anarchists. They did not intervene until the rally descended into chaos. The result: a couple dozen people were injured and a young woman died.

So, the list of parties who bear a share of the blame for the disastrous outcome on Aug. 12 gets ever longer. First and foremost, we can blame the mostly out-of-state white supremacists for organizing the rally, spewing bile, acting in a deliberately provocative manner, and coming ready to rumble. Secondly, we can blame the Leftist anarchists who came to town spoiling for a fight — and giving the white supremacists someone to rumble with. Thirdly, we can blame the non-violent social justice warriors for creating the political conditions that caused the police to back away from its previously successful strategy. And fourthly, we can blame the city officials who, despite an explicit warning from the Department of Homeland Security that both the far Right and far Left were gearing up for a violent confrontation, cravenly capitulated to the demands of the social justice crew.

Welcome to Virginia in the 21st century.

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9 responses to “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

  1. it is better to have a bunch of angry activists screaming about losing their rights to protest, than it was losing 3 people’s lives, because the police just stood by and watched those peaceful activists start violence

  2. Easy to Monday-morning quarterback but police are human beings and if protesters are allowed to be heavily armed – I can see the police “beefing up” also … and if they are attacked as being “too military” and back down – they’re going to feel that if gunfire breaks out – they are going to likely become targets themselves.

    I might be judged to be wrong here but if protesters in Virginia can show up heavily armed – things change… and for those who seem to fret about the “leftists”, I’d submit that if they armed themselves equivalently like the “right” did – it could rightly be called a powder keg – and you know what… I strongly suspect that’s part of the fear about Monument Avenue.

    So what to do? Boston and other venues look like they don’t allow guns.. in fact.. don’t allow weapons… Is this what Virginia should do?

    or do the local and State police end up looking like a 3rd world or authoritarian regime police force or do what McAliffe did ..not only for Monument Ave but other future venues?

    so… yes.. it’s damned if you don’t and damned if you do but is the only choice a militarized police or a feckless police? Is there a “just right” option?
    If there is .. I suspect it’s yet to be determined.

  3. McAuliffe dropped the ball. He didn’t have sufficient state police or National Guardsmen on site. Then he made false excuses as to why he failed. This was not evil, but a mistake, followed by cover-up.

    • I think there were 40,000 people in Boston and as far as I know , no National Guard and no State Police… but the rules were different:

      The following items were prohibited:

      Firearms, knives, weapons, sharp objects, shields or fireworks
      Pop-up tents or canopies
      Cans, glass containers, pre-mixed beverages or alcoholic beverages
      Wagons or pull carts
      Coolers
      Drones
      Pets (excluding certified service animals)
      Grills, propane tanks or open flames
      Bicycles
      Flag poles, bats, clubs, sticks (including signs attached to sticks)
      Any athletic equipment or other item that could be used as a weapon

      I think 28 people were arrested and very little property damage…

      would that approach work in Virginia ?? on Monument Ave?

  4. A Governor must deal with the situation at hand. McAuliffe didn’t.

    • Perhaps… but most folks who are not hard over on partisan politics probably do not… and instead wonder why Virginia did not and does not do – what Boston and other cities do – which is to ban weapons including firearms from protests and demonstrations.

      I’d bet if you took a poll in Virginia asking that question – you’d get a substantial number of people who would support it.

      McAuliffe did not do as well as he should have, I agree… but I also strongly suspect that the next time… he will have learned and do better as a practical matter as he has proven himself to NOT be an ideologue… but rather someone who … by no means perfect… and certainly of the “wrong” political persuasion for some – has done a decent job overall.

      And I bet… dollars to donuts.. if he came out in favor of banning weapons at protests and demonstrations – he’d be pilloried by the partisan types even as most Virginians would support such a ban.

      How about it TMT, would you support a weapons ban for future “protests”?

      Then the KKK/WS could prance around all day long with faux tiki torches and toy guns and the “leftists” with their masks and fake baseball bats.. eh?

      • Another upchuck.

      • Larry – it’s all about what is the state of the law. The General Assembly could specify that a permit for a demonstration can contain specific restrictions, including restrictions on firearms. I suspect a court challenge would occur, but I believe a court would uphold such a restriction. But I don’t believe there is any such state law or, perhaps, C”ville would have conditioned its permit.

        McAuliffe is a lame duck. He has no chance to get legislation through the GA. Whether he should have tried is a moot question. Maybe he could have come up with some type of a proposal giving up something(s) from the left in order to get restrictions on firearms at demonstrations. But, for whatever reason, he didn’t.

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