While elected officials play politics, American cities are becoming more and more violent and the danger of spreading lawlessness grows.
President Donald Trump and Republicans contend the president has the right and responsibility to send in federal officers to quell rioting and violence. Democrats counter that the action is provocative and unnecessary – and leaders in some cities even promise to resist.
Let’s be clear: One way or another, violence, whether in the name of political beliefs or just criminal activity, cannot be accepted as a norm. The president’s actions in ordering federal authorities into places such as Portland, Oregon, and Chicago may not be politically wise in the end. But action is necessary, whether by the feds or the feds in cooperation with local and state authorities.
In most instances, there is cooperation between federal and state/local authorities. But in abnormal times, it appears things will have to grow even worse before cities will seek aid. The clock is ticking toward that breaking point. When it comes, people will demand of their leaders that help come from the feds or anywhere else it can be found.
Those saying Trump is acting dictatorially and unlike other U.S. president are wrong.
A 2002 law specifies that federal officers can be used for "the protection of property owned or occupied by the federal government.” In places such as Portland, federal facilities have been targeted.
In locations such as Chicago, the intervention is in the name of stopping gang violence. That may be more questionable but is not unprecedented.
The Insurrection Act allows a president to deploy federal troops, even against the will of local authorities, in certain circumstances. The 1807 law says the approval of state governors isn't required when the president determines the situation in a state makes it impossible to enforce U.S. laws, or when citizens' rights are threatened.
The law may be old but it has been used in modern times.
According to the Congressional Research Service as reported by the BBC, the Insurrection Act was invoked in 1992 by former President George H.W. Bush during riots in Los Angeles.
The law was used throughout the 1950s and ‘60s during the civil rights era by three different presidents, including when there were objections from state governors.
President Dwight Eisenhower faced objections when he used the law in 1957 to send U.S. troops to Arkansas to control a protest at a school where black and white children were being taught together.
Some equate the protests of today with those of the 1950s and ‘60s. Indeed there are people seeking reform and change, letting their voices be heard in lawful ways. But too many others are taking advantage of a new movement to engage in destruction and violence for the sake of destruction and violence.
The United States is a great nation of laws. Those working to tear down the rule of law must be stopped, if not by state and local authorizes, then by the federal government in the name of protecting not only federal property but the civil rights of Americans individually and collectively.
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