By Terry Garlock and Terry Ernst
Did the looters in Baltimore appear to you to be stricken by their grief and anger at Freddie Gray’s unexplained death while in police custody?
Not to us, either, but they did look like opportunists grabbing the goods they could steal for themselves while the penalties for uncivilized behavior were suspended.
The lowlifes also expressed their sadness by stabbing fire hoses as firefighters tried to extinguish the destruction they started, raising doubts they gave even a passing thought to the firefighter lives at stake inside burning buildings.
For their ill-gotten gain in Tootsie Rolls, shoes, Excedrin and vodka, and for the thrills they enjoyed setting businesses and homes and cars ablaze, they should send a thank you note to the idiotic mayor who told police officers to stand by while they looted, set fires and stole cars.
The mayor, of course, denies her own video-taped words, but she owns the anarchy that too many in the mob seemed to enjoy. She doesn’t own it alone.
President Obama and now-former Attorney General Eric Holder have been fanning the flames of racial division for a long time while repeatedly throwing police under the bus. Their irresponsible public presumption of police guilt has given encouragement to the criminal element, seemingly granting the aggrieved class an entitlement to disrupt the peace, all while delivering a severe blow to police morale nationwide.
Don’t misunderstand. Both of us want answers, too, on how Freddie Gray died in police custody. In fact, we’d like to know whether his arrest was over-aggressive policing in the first place. But you don’t get answers by criminal behavior.
We’ve heard community leaders on TV lamenting the destruction of people’s own neighborhood, and how sad it is that black rioters are burning businesses owned by fellow blacks.
Even that sentiment is misplaced, just more small-minded and divisive pandering. Any neighborhood they burn, any business they loot and destroy, belongs to fellow citizens who worked hard to build it, no matter their race. The racial division needs to stop.
Now the unrest is spreading to Washington, Philadelphia and other cities. We hope demonstrations are peaceful, but hope hasn’t delivered so far. Our country needs a national law giving the governor of every state the authority to approve lethal force by law enforcement and the National Guard to stop looters and arsonists whether in riots or in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as hurricane or earthquake.
We need to stop the insanity of law enforcement standing idly by while thugs violate private property rights and destroy public property.
Televised images of thugs being arrested, or shot dead while resisting, would go a long way in putting a stop to this uncivilized behavior. It is worth noting we don’t care whether the looters are black, white, yellow or brown, the remedy remains the same.
The word would spread like wildfire the police mean business, you can’t get away with this stuff any more while police stand around and watch, and it would stop. Dead looters on TV news would spread mortal fear in the hearts of opportunists causing the trouble, and would likely stop that behavior cold.
While some leaders make excuses for the mobs, others might challenge authorities that using force against the looters might seem extreme. But it is time for the Daddy-State to step in where the Mommy-State has failed.
We need to stop coddling fringe elements that cause destruction in our society, regardless of their race, gender, class or neighborhood. We need to hold criminals to account for actions that try to disrupt or destroy civilized life.
Authorizing police to stop looters with force, with National guard backup, would be a good first serious step in restoring order and balance. It would deliver the message there are consequences for ignoring the rules of civilized behavior.
[Terry Garlock occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. Terry Ernst is a Peachtree City councilman and a former captain in the Peachtree City Police Department. Both live in Peachtree City. Their emails are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.]