Our men and women in blue now stand in a deadly political hailstorm

If you want to see the face of violence, rage, and hopelessness in America today, take a good look inside our failing inner cities and the desperate people who are struggling to survive. Start with Chicago. 

Sixty-five people were shot in Chicago over the Labor Day weekend, thirteen of those shootings ended with fatalities including a retired pastor. In Baltimore, several triple shootings broke out during the long holiday weekend. Twenty-two people were hit with gunfire, four people died and four others were listed in critical condition. The shooting victims in Baltimore included a 60-year-old woman and two children — ages 4 and 6. Prior to the torrent of violence, Baltimore authorities noted how they had managed to go six entire days without a homicide – an unusual feat for the beleaguered city.  New York and Los Angeles now have a combined 409 homicides recorded so far this year.  

Chicago’s Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson speaks candidly about the violence in his city and how it emanates from impoverished neighborhoods and from people who are literally, “without hope.” Johnson clearly believes Chicago’s problem of violence cannot be conveniently laid at the feet of the police, as the Black Lives Matter movement and other vocal activists propose.  Instead, Johnson says, “It’s not a police issue, it’s a society issue.”  

Departing Washington, D.C. chief Cathy Lanier had her own observations as she moves to a new assignment with the NFL.  According to the Washington Post, Lanier lamented that, “The criminal justice system in this city is broken.”  Among her reasons for leaving the department she’s worked in for more than two decades, was the lack of outrage over repeat offenders.  “It is beyond broken. “  

Listen to Jesse Jackson and you get a very different story.  Jackson says the Chicago police department is part of the most corrupt justice system in America and he accuses Chicago’s police of taking part in, “legal lynching.”  The Huffington Post recently published a story from their Black Voices Senior Editor saying the following: “Black Lives Matter (BLM) wasn’t built to incite any form of violence against police.  In fact, it’s one of the dangerous misconceptions about the movement the group has sought to debunk.” 

Perhaps this Huffington Post editor missed the videos of BLM protestors in St. Paul, Minnesota, shouting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” Or others marching in New York City chanting, “What do we want?  Dead cops.  When do we want them?  Now!” 

How do these reprehensible mantras work toward a nonviolent goal?  

Political opportunist and inveterate race baiter Reverend Al Sharpton is a staunch supporter of the BLM movement with a long history of fabricating charges against police.  Who can forget Sharpton’s dishonest crusade in the 1980’s railing against the “attack” on Tawana Brawley – a woman who falsely claimed to have been sexually assaulted by white police officers.  Sharpton regularly marches with the BLM movement and uses liberal television and his half million Twitter followers to make sweeping, unfounded accusations against police.

Where is the public repudiation of Al Sharpton from BLM leaders if the movement truly doesn’t condone violence?  

Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith reported in August of this year how Sharpton, “….admires and talks to some of the Black Lives Matter activists, including DeRay Mckesson, whom he sees as goal-oriented.” 

There will never be any repudiation of Al Sharpton from BLM or of BLM from Sharpton because their interests are mutual – blame the police first, check the facts later, if at all.  And if the unambiguous facts don’t support the anti-cop narrative, cast suspicion and doubt on them anyway, claim the entire system is rigged.  

Public bashing of our police has become so politically convenient, we now have to listen to vapid Hollywood elites and pampered millionaire athletes offer their shallow commentary.  When NFL bench-warmer Colin Kaepernick takes a knee during the national anthem or shows up to practice wearing his “pig socks” he adds his name to the list of uninformed activists and organizations who know virtually nothing about these issues and use a convenient blue scapegoat for systemic inner city problems.  

Our president does the nation no service when he announces how he can empathize with Kaepernick’s plight. The president heeds the words and actions of a multi-million dollar athlete who has never met once with any law enforcement official to reach an informed opinion regarding the challenges of policing in America today or cared to recognize the myriad problems plaguing inner cities that the police are expected to somehow fix when a person dials 911. 

There is little thoughtful discussion of the realities and daily stresses of police work, the split-second decision-making required – often with life changing consequences, or the need for additional training, equipment, and funding for thousands of local departments.   

As violent crime rates rise in city after city after more than twenty years of decline, the men and women in blue now stand in a political hailstorm.  In many of the same cities where protesters lined up to defame, curse or threaten police while exercising the very First Amendment rights their victims are sent to protect, law abiding citizens are begging for police patrols to return in force where the thugs now rule. 

Police walk the streets today fearful their next citizen encounter will become a much maligned viral video or fodder for a public witch hunt against them or their families. Others will become sudden and unwarranted targets of violence simply because of the uniform they wear. 

In the remaining days of this election season, we can expect to see more pandering and posturing by liberal candidates and activists who are happy to point an accusatory finger at police.  

It’s time we discuss the real causes for the escalating violence in our cities and engage in substantive discussions to find ways to keep people safe.   

Questions regarding proper use of force and public safety should transcend party politics.  Instead they have become a means to incite more violence in our cities and spur a far-reaching, often baseless propaganda campaign to blame the blue.     

Ron Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, and former assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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