Former U.S. Ambassador Ken Blackwell says voters must hold their leaders responsible for unrest and violence that has left hundreds of stores smashed, looted, and burned in major American cities.
In recent weeks, violent riots have ravaged cities across the United States and sympathetic local officials have stepped back as activists have taken over city blocks. As homicides have spiked, some officials have attempted to use the pandemic to cover up for years of high murder rates.
“It’s time that these local communities make folks pay for an absence of leadership. They must change leadership. They must say enough is enough,” Blackwell told The Daily Wire. Blackwell has a decades-long record of public service, including as the ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council and as Mayor of Cincinnati from 1979-80.
Protests swept the country in May after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on Memorial Day. Cell phone video of the incident showed a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer’s conduct was widely condemned by police groups and public safety experts, and the officer himself has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Black Lives Matter activists and some public officials led calls to “abolish” police departments. In Minneapolis, the city council voted to remove the city’s police to help undo “longstanding systemic oppression, racial oppression,” according to councilman Jeremiah Ellison.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, both Democrats, approved significant cuts to their cities’ respective police departments. The extra funding, they said, will be diverted to social programs targeting minority communities.
Accusations of systemic racism allow local officials to claim they care about black communities while ignoring the real threat to black people: communities left vulnerable by a lack of law enforcement and prosecutions against criminal behavior, according to Blackwell.
“Every single one of these cities have been run by Democrats, in some cases as long as 40 years. And the reality is when you look at the numbers, most of these black Americans that are being slaughtered have been killed by other men and women of color,” Blackwell said. “The second that a black man dies in police custody, left-leaning actors and politicians begin calling for sweeping reforms to combat the boogeyman of racial inequality and systemic racism, even when they know perfectly well that the deaths don’t reflect that.”
“I really think we have to shine a spotlight on the reality in these major cities that if black lives really matter to the left and to Black Lives Matter incorporated, they should be leading peaceful protests demanding that these folks at the local and state level do their jobs,” Blackwell continued.
As riots ripped through Minneapolis, Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police officers to abandon one of the cities precincts. Arsonists took over the building and burned it to the ground along with numerous other structures. Preliminary estimates say that fires caused $15 million in damage.
In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkin allowed activists to take over six city blocks for over a month as they demonstrated for sweeping reforms. Durkin removed police from the area and allowed vandalism and crime to run rampant. She eventually ordered police to take back over the area after a bloody weekend when several people, including a 17-year-old boy, were killed.
“If you just go back to the last 90 days and the rash of acts of domestic terrorism and criminality that visited many of these cities, I mean people saw their livelihoods go up in flames. Others were afraid to leave their homes, and many who depend on public transportation no longer have a community pharmacy or a convenience store for these essentials like food and medicine,” Blackwell said.
“This disruption was caused by folks, not protesting the wrongful death of George Floyd, but these were professional disrupters and anarchists committed to this notion of fundamentally transforming America. And they don’t do it based on numbers or any discernable pattern of systemic racism,” Blackwell continued.
Blackwell says that voters must punish local and state officials that have failed to protect the citizens and communities they govern. The best way to heal black communities and others in the wake of rampant violence is to change the combative attitude toward police that is being pushed by leaders in cities such as Atlanta, St. Louis, and Chicago.
“I am fond of saying that capital is for cowards. People don’t invest capital in unsafe environments, and so in order to turn these communities around economically, we must in fact make sure that we convert them from killing fields to fields of opportunity, to fields of dreams,” Blackwell said.
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