The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are tragedies and injustices. There is no excuse for the actions of those involved or the abuse of government power that enables tragedies like these.
The government, whose job is to protect all citizens, did just the opposite. And now it is doing the opposite in the aftermath, allowing lawlessness, mob justice, “autonomous zones,” and the ransacking of history.
We are approaching the sixth anniversary of the brutal killing of Eric Garner, who died face down on the sidewalk while gasping "I can't breathe" while in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Officer Pantaleo remained on the NYPD for five years after the killing of Mr. Garner and was just fired last year. If our state and federal leaders at that time had acted more decisively and swiftly, not only in seeking justice for Mr. Garner but by enacting police reforms, we might have avoided the horrific death of George Floyd.
Eric Garner was killed six years ago. The New York state and the federal leaders with the power to do something in July of 2014? NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.
Today, our Democrat mayors are pointing fingers at President Trump and defending the burning and looting of our cities as justifiable in the face of systemic racism.
The actions of the entire system — police, prosecutors, judges, administrators, and politicians — that led to their deaths must be thoroughly investigated and overhauled. There is a fracture in our system of justice, and it will take hard work to repair it.
There is also a fracture in our society. And it will take a lot of hard work to repair THAT.
We should all be angry. People of every race and socio-economic status should join together to demand and work for justice and reform.
No one questions our First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. Public dissent and protest is a part of America’s DNA.
But these deaths are being obscured by the smoke of our cities burning. Any chance for constructive change is overwhelmed by the images of a woman in front of a store being beaten senseless with a two-by-four. The twisted body of a shopkeeper in decerebrate posturing after having his skull crushed by repeated blows with bricks is virtually impossible to watch.
It is overwhelmed by the mob justice that has moved well beyond any justifiable protest and descended into anarchy and destruction, aided and abetted by the same people responsible for the local criminal justice system in the first place.
Reform is impossible amidst mayhem. It is also impossible without understanding the totality of the problem you are facing.
Instead of senseless violence, this anger should be directed at the local governments that allowed and continue to allow these tragedies to occur.
Who runs the militarized police forces? Who signs off on the no-knock warrants? Who allows officers with 18 prior complaints to carry a gun and police the streets? Who writes the laws that disproportionately victimize a group of its citizens? Who put up the Confederate statues, and who could have taken them down years ago? Who is standing by while anarchy happens on our city streets?
Every one of these questions is answered by this — local, mostly Democrat, politicians.
Why are they standing idly by and watching their cities burn and their streets become chaos?
I’m an ally on reform — virtually no one has stood up for criminal justice reform more often or authored more bills or given more speeches, even when it was not at all popular with my party or voters.
But I can’t be an ally to those who would destroy America and let it all burn down.
Who will reach out from the other side of the aisle? Who will stand up and condemn the senseless violence and anarchy? Which Democrat politician will get control of their own city?
We are becoming more divided, not less, and it is sad. Public sentiment on issues of race has never been more favorable to true reform. Yet, while cities burn, businesses go up in smoke, and anarchy reigns, Democrats in the Senate contribute nothing — even going so far as to BLOCK floor consideration of a police reform bill they don’t think goes far enough.
That’s crazy. I don’t think it goes far enough, either, and I have amendments ready to go. They refuse to allow us to consider it.
Is it possible that while Democrats block action in the Senate, and continue their disastrous local leadership, they won’t really want to solve the problem?
After all, they’ve been in control for decades while the problems continued. Now they watch their cities burn and block reform efforts.
Rand Paul is a U.S. senator from Kentucky.