Law & the Courts

Anti-Cop Rioters Don’t Care about ‘Justice’

Protesters clash with police in Charlotte, N.C., September 20, 2016. (Photo: Adam Rhew/Charlotte Magazine/Reuters)
The rule of law is breaking down as riots erupt before the facts come in.

The anti-cop movement is completely out of control. It’s moved from attacking the police, to attacking the rule of law itself, and now it is attacking the fundamental human right of self-defense. Twice in a month, rioters have struck back after black cops reportedly shot and killed black men who were threatening the cops with guns.

First, in Milwaukee, rioters burned businesses and cars after a black officer shot Sylville Smith. Milwaukee officials who reviewed the body-camera footage not only said that Smith was raising his gun at police, they also noted that he “had more firepower than the officer” — possessing a weapon with a 23-round magazine.

Last night, in Charlotte, N.C., a young black police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott. According to police reports, Scott brandished a weapon and was given multiple commands to drop the weapon. After a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter posted a Facebook Live video that asserted that Scott was disabled and only holding a book, riots erupted. The police say they’ve not found a book at the scene, but they do have Scott’s weapon.

Protests began in late afternoon and quickly turned violent. Rioters attacked and injured police officers (including one hit in the face with a rock), shut down and set fire to an interstate, threw rocks and other objects at motorists, damaged police cars, looted tractor trailers, and eventually looted a Walmart. Police reportedly arrested only one person in response to the widespread violence.

While none of the Black Lives Matters riots are justified, last night’s events are particularly revealing. It is extraordinarily difficult to claim white supremacy and white oppression when black cops are defending themselves from armed black men. This has nothing to do with the false narratives of “hands up, don’t shoot” or “open season on black men.” These rioters can’t even wait for the most basic of investigations. This is about destruction, about bringing down the established order. It’s the “Burn, Baby Burn” of 2016 — 51 years after the Watts riots inspired Marvin X to issue his poetic ode to vicious violence:

Killllllllll ……..

Boommmmm …………

2 honkeys gone..

Motherf***k the police

And Parker’s sister too

Burn, baby, burn*******

Cook outta sight*******

Fineburgs, wineburgs,

Safeway, noway, burn …..

Baby, burn

I thought black people — including black cops — enjoyed the same fundamental rights as every other human being on the planet, including the right to protect themselves from armed attack. What does “Black Lives Matter” even mean if a black man in uniform can’t protect himself from criminal violence — from a person of any color? Is the rule of law even relevant if riots break out before even the slightest examination of the actual evidence? Does this look like “social justice” to you?

There is a bright line — a very bright line — between lawful protest and the kind of violence America saw overnight in Charlotte. Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that leftist radicals use the violence to create a perverse good cop/bad cop public argument: Either deal with the self-appointed radical “community” or “movement” leaders or face the mob.

While this is the kind of tactic that has always worked with timid white progressives (Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” is evergreen), most Americans have little patience with riots. Hillary Clinton is playing with political and cultural fire with tweets like this:

What has got to end, Hillary? A black cop reportedly defending himself from an armed man? By lumping together two very different cases (in Tulsa, Okla., Terence Crutcher was apparently unarmed and shot after video shows him walking back to his vehicle and appearing to reach inside), Clinton is stoking a narrative that lumps together all police shootings in the same basket of injustice — when cops are individuals, departments are different, and facts vary wildly. Is this the “steady” leadership she brags about?

#related#The riots of 2016 don’t represent an oppressed underclass rising against the oppressor. They represent an oppressor criminal class rising against the rule of law and against the very value of human life. Black lives matter? Please. These people believe no lives matter — none but their own. They are the vanguard — the tip of the spear — of a larger movement that truly seeks not to build but to destroy. Shame on any politician, pundit, or activist who expresses the slightest sympathy for their deadly cause.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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