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June 30, 2020

Atlanta’s Aftermath

As police are thrown under the bus, the streets of Atlanta (and other cities) grow more dangerous.

The request from the city councilman to the interim police chief was both matter-of-fact and jarring: “I was just notified there was a young man who was just shot and killed. … Can you get a unit out there? He’s been on the ground and there’s no police who have come. He’s dead already. He’s on the ground and the residents have put a sheet over him.”

Bill Torpy has worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 1990, and we imagine him thinking, prior to Monday’s virtual meeting of the City Council Public Safety Committee, that he’d already seen and heard it all. But not quite all. “It sounds like Afghanistan,” he writes, and then he recites an incomplete list of local murder and mayhem.

“The carnage coincides with the protests of George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota,” Torpy writes. “On May 29, demonstrations started in downtown Atlanta and things got crazy. Squad cars burned, stores were looted, and protesters and police clashed.”

Then he gets to the root cause of it: “Many cops have taken a more hands-off approach to policing following the arrests of six officers for using tasers on two college students this month, and the arrests of two officers in the killing of Brooks. Cops are reticent to get out and deal with angry people in the streets.”

And who can blame them for this hands-off approach? Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by an Atlanta cop after resisting arrest, punching the officer, stealing his taser, and firing it at him while attempting to flee. For having made a split-second decision to use deadly force against a violent assailant, the officer, Garrett Rolfe, was charged with felony murder by Fulton County DA Paul Howard, who happens to be up for reelection this fall.

“The upsurge in violence is likely the result of plummeting police morale,” writes Paul Mirengoff on Power Line, “which the city’s mayor [and Biden VP short-lister], Keisha Lance Bottoms, admitted ‘is down ten-fold.’ And why shouldn’t morale have plummeted? It’s clear that, as the head of the police union in Atlanta says, the city doesn’t have the officers’ backs. Scores of cops have called in sick, and ‘proactive’ policing is now largely nonexistent. According to the union chief, ‘officers will respond to high-level calls and protecting each other,’ but that’s about it. Criminals know this.”

And there it is. Call it Newton’s Third Law of Reactive Policing: For every action to demonize cops, there’s an equal and opposite reaction of hands-off policing.

This isn’t anything new, either. This is the blowback of Ferguson, and of a lawless thug named Michael Brown, and of a single cop who killed Brown lawfully in the line of duty and was run out of town for his efforts. It’s the blowback of Baltimore, where a career criminal named Freddie Gray died in police custody and where an overzealous prosecutor overcharged the officers involved. It’s the blowback of Chicago, and Philly, and New York, and…

Yes, murders are up — way, way up in some places — but it’s not the cops who are doing the killing. Instead, it’s the cops who are now thinking twice before risking their careers by diving into the fray.

To those on the Left who are demonizing and defunding our inner-city cops, a question: Do black lives really matter to you?

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