Commentary

Local Paper Blasts Leaders After Violent Protest Was Allowed To Burn Through City

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As often violent Black Lives Matter demonstrations drag on into their third month nationwide following the officer-involved death of George Floyd, one thing is for certain: The collective patience is wearing thin.

Nightly riots, looting and the razing of beloved cultural monuments have all become facts of life.

Largely unfamiliar, however, with the widespread boarding of businesses in their busiest metropolitan centers or the running newsreel of mask-clad punks setting fire to anything they can get their hands on, the American people have been driven to discomfort by the events of recent weeks.

Put plainly, this is the summer of our discontent — and this week, that discontent was given an indignant voice.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board sounded off on public servants and community leaders at every level Monday for their inability — or, more accurately, their unwillingness — to tamp down violent mob activity and protect American communities from the countless radical opportunists currently hijacking the justice reform conversation.

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“Where is the leadership?” editors Pamela Stallsmith, Robin Beres and Chris Gentilviso demanded to know, breaking down weeks of anarchy for their readers.

“When will our elected leaders say ‘enough’? Where are business, education and other community leaders in publicly condemning the violence?”

The scathing rebuke came after a weekend of violence in Virginia’s capital city of Richmond.

WARNING: Some of the following tweets contain vulgar language that some readers may find offensive.

According to The Washington Post, 23 people were arrested in connection with explosive late-night social justice demonstrations between July 25 and 26.

Almost from the onset of the massive marches, which were colored by repeat standoffs with local law enforcement, social media users and local news media figures on the ground reported violent actors were stepping out of the crowd to light fires and vandalize both public and private property.

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On Saturday night, rioters broke through a law enforcement perimeter outside the Richmond Police Department headquarters, peppering officers with anything they could manage to hurl and targeting the building itself with lasers and firecrackers, according to WRIC-TV.

Whole streets were left in disarray, a city dump truck was set ablaze (reportedly by a firework placed in its cab) and, when all was said and done, more than $100,000 in damages had been done to Virginia Commonwealth University alone.

Numerous sources would later indicate that a virtual flyer produced by an anonymous person or entity had played a major role sparking the violent demonstrations:

“F— THE FEDS. F— RPD. F— VSP. F— TRUMP,” the flyer calling for people to organize at a local park read. “DO WHAT YOU WANT. F— S— UP.”

They were hardly the words of a peaceable people seeking simply to advocate for social justice and reasonable police reform. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The flyer was all but an explicit call to violence, the likes of which we have already seen in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis and New York City — and the Times-Dispatch editorial board was anything but shy in saying so.

“Let us be clear: Saturday night’s violence was a planned riot,” the editorial board wrote. “Before the July 25 event, flyers promoting mayhem under the guise of ‘Richmond Stands with Portland’ circulated around the internet.

“Concerned citizens forwarded to friends, family and news media the angry, expletive-loaded circular urging people to meet at Monroe Park at 9:30 p.m.

“The disarray in downtown Richmond Saturday night should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this city — and others across the country — overcome by waves of violent unrest over the past two months. The real questions continue to be: Who is behind it — and who will step up to stop it?”

Who was going to stop the violence?

Well, apparently not Democratic Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam or even Republican President Donald Trump. No, leaders at every level of government — and on both sides of the aisle, whether we would like to admit it or not — have been incredibly lackadaisical in stopping the violence.

Pre-emptive efforts have been all but none existent and response efforts have been tempered, even as rioters destroy private property and physically assault law enforcement officers and their fellow citizens

Only serving to exacerbate the problem is the fact that our leaders are more focused on which ideological movement is to blame for the violence after the fact than they are on stopping the anarchy on the front end.

In Richmond, rather than firmly enforce the rule of law last weekend, Stoney instead decided to address local media in the aftermath, blaming much of the violence on far-right white supremacist elements who had allegedly attempted to wreak havoc from within the Black Lives Matter crowd in order to shift public support against the movement.

“There were white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter, attempting to undermine an otherwise overwhelmingly peaceful movement towards social justice,” Stoney said.

Now, it is important to note that some of this is true. The Daily Beast confirmed that members of the radical anti-government “boogaloo boys” movement, which has at times been known to mingle with racist elements, had been present on July 25 in conjunction with fringe social justice group BLM757.

But The Daily Beast, a far-left outlet, was also willing to admit Stoney had provided no evidence to support its claims those “boogaloo boys” had orchestrated the anarchy. In fact, the outlet indicated that folks from a variety of ideological backgrounds seem to have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Do you agree with the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board?

Only further investigation, of course, will reveal who was really to blame for the anarchy.

That, however, is actually beside the point.

“What we do know,” as the Times-Dispatch wrote, is that “the absence of leadership at all levels of government has compounded these circumstances. We’ve normalized too many behaviors that make Richmond — and the United States — a less safe and prosperous place to live.”

The average American could not care less about who is to blame for the anarchy now roiling the nation.

When your house is being burgled, you could not care less who the burglar is. You just want someone to put an end to the incident before you or someone you love is hurt.

It is about time our local, state and federal leaders became that someone.

“The public still is looking to Stoney, the Richmond City Council, Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia General Assembly and the White House for a way forward. And the solution won’t be found in a press conference, a tweet or staying silent. We all have eyes and see what’s going on in our city’s — and nation’s — backyard. When does this stop?” the editors rightly wrote.

“When will Stoney and City Council members acknowledge that putting down riots to protect lives and property is a very real function of their elected positions? Keeping mum and refusing to take action in fear of making tough decisions is not governing. It is cowardice. Enough is enough. Show some leadership.”

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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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