In the early hours of June 2, amid violent riots in St. Louis, looters gunned down David Dorn, a retired African-American police captain who had responded to an alarm at his friend’s pawnshop. His last moments of service were captured on a passerby’s Facebook feed. In the days since, many on the left have defended destruction and rioting as a form of protest. “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence,” one New York Times writer averred in a TV interview. And now many left-wing activists, cheered on by the media, are ready to do away with law enforcement altogether, campaigning to “Defund the Police.”
This radical agenda amounts to an assault on American life as we know it. And David Dorn’s tragic death is a stark reminder that the costs of this radicalism will be borne not by the many elites who advocate it but by the working class of all races — both those who are most vulnerable to crime and those who staff our police forces and protect our neighborhoods.
The truth is, American elites don’t fear violent crime because, increasingly, they don’t encounter it. Those below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to be the victims of violent crime as those with high incomes. Rather than make high-crime neighborhoods safe and habitable for the people who live there, urban elites demolish them and put up luxury high-rises for the upper class. And from the safety of a luxury loft, policing becomes an abstract concept.
But ask a poor senior whose pharmacy was burned whether she thinks violent rioters should be left unaccountable. Ask an immigrant small-business owner whose store was looted whether the protection of the police matters.
Or ask the victims of violent crime who can’t afford the private security of the wealthy. The FBI reports that African Americans suffer over half of all homicides tracked by that agency. Like all Americans, they depend on the police to keep them safe. And policing works. As the liberal news site Vox noted last year, in a survey of studies on the subject, “The research is clear: More cops = less crime.” That’s why one Democratic pollster found that the vast majority of African Americans and Latinos — more than 60 percent of each — favor increasing the number of police officers, not abolishing them.
In reality, Americans of all walks of life reject the left’s anti-American, anti-police narrative. Most Americans simply do not believe that America is, as the New York Times’ 1619 Project argues, a fundamentally racist and therefore evil nation.
And most Americans see what I saw as the chief law enforcer of the state of Missouri: that police work is vital work, honorable work, and noble. The men and women who sign up for it — most from working-class homes — are among the best of Americans. Law enforcement has its share of corruption, no doubt, but the police are not the foot soldiers of modern-day oppression. They are the thin blue line whose service and sacrifice makes life in a free republic possible.
But if Americans don’t support the Left’s agenda, that doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore it. This week, House Democrats introduced a bill that would federalize the 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in this country and kneecap our officers’ ability to protect the most vulnerable. In a Biden administration, this agenda would no doubt be a first-hundred-days priority. That means more cooking the books on crime by corrupt politicians to suppress crime statistics. It means abandoning the central duty of justice, the protection of the innocent. It means leaving the working people of our country to fend for themselves in the name of what the woke Left calls “social justice.”
Our founding Declaration asserts that “all men are created equal.” We have struggled to live up to that creed, and fallen short, and gotten back up to struggle again. But it is our struggle, all of us together. The work of achieving a more perfect union is, for Americans, a shared labor of shared love. That’s the story of America. And it is one worth defending.