“Defund the police.” “Fry ’em like bacon.” These stupid ideas are tanking in Hipsterville like the governor’s approval polls in New York.
Student leaders at the University of Colorado’s flagship in Boulder released a statement Monday blasting cops for their gingerly approach to Saturday’s riot.
For the first time in years, parties on University Hill led to major rioting that destroyed property and injured cops. Officers chose to deescalate the drunken madness and arrest suspects after reviewing surveillance.
Surprisingly, elected student leaders want more aggressive policing. They are right to ask, of course, but appear confused. They seem to lack any clear understanding of the First Amendment, a law that gives no preference to conflicting social values and agendas.
The leaders want fellow students to mobilize and fight, but only if they have a message that matters. They rightly see Saturday’s destructive tumult — seemingly based on the cause of “fight for your right to party” — as a crime.
A letter signed by CU-Boulder Student Body Presidents Amalia Frommelt, George Conway, and Isaiah Chavous says they are “concerned and utterly disappointed with the inaction that took place in the hours leading up to the riots. These riots did not occur suddenly, but they were a result of a day’s worth of minimal enforcement on the block…”
They complain of a routine “lack of enforcement or intervention of large-scale gatherings.”
“We call upon the Boulder Police Department and the University of Colorado Police Department to engage in more effective intervention practices that hold students who choose to engage in this behavior more accountable,” they wrote.
It is awesome to see them encourage law enforcement’s role in maintaining the general order and peace that keep people safe, free, and diverse. The university should expel anyone who destroyed property or harmed the police. The court should impose consequences.
Meanwhile, students might consider how we got here. The same student body presidents who want a more peaceful environment published an earlier letter that encourages the mobilization of “fighting” crowds. They did so just as left-wing activists and students launched a “defund the police” movement after the killing of George Floyd, a Black suspect who died during an arrest in Minneapolis.
“Keep protesting. Keep fighting for what is right. We must plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize,” Frommelt, Chavousin, and Conway wrote in a June 11 letter addressed to students, faculty, staff, administration, and cops.
While their first letter urges pre-meditated conflict, it denounces any “protest intended to direct the root cause of racism toward a diluted and counteractive protest such as ‘all lives matter.’ ”
They wrote the June 11 letter after receiving a petition signed by more than 3,400 students demanding CU cut ties with the Boulder Police Department and the Colorado Department of Corrections. It demands the university endowment spend $20 million annually to support “businesses and initiatives” run by convicts.
Since the killing of Floyd a year ago this month, students, faculty, and all varieties of left-wing activists have told police to stand down and respect free assembly. We’ve seen reporters stand near burning buildings while telling us the protests are peaceful. The student group DiversifyCUnow wants to defund the CU Police Department and give the money to students who are “Black, Indigenous or people of color.”
Reacting to students who fought Saturday for no discernably virtuous cause, the student body presidents want something very different — crowd control by the agencies their constituents seek to divide and defund.
Colorado spent the past 15 years rebuilding the once-tarnished reputation of the Boulder campus. If the university backslides to the era of high-profile debauchery, Democrats will get the blame, fair or unfair. They took control of the Board of Rents in November for the first time in more than 40 years. They should listen to the student leaders and empower the police.
Under Republican control — and the direction of successive conservative Republican CU Presidents Hank Brown, Bruce Benson, and Mark Kennedy — the campus went from national embarrassment to gold standard. A reputation of academic excellence, intellectual diversity, private-sector funding, and high-tech research pushed aside the Wild West party-school image.
Saturday should remind Coloradans how quickly their flagship could revert to old ways without serious, objective enforcement of the law.
Tell cops we appreciate their work. Pay them more. Encourage them to uphold the peace without regard for race, ethnicity, or the perceived value of a crowd’s message. Nothing about the First Amendment places disproportionate value on “Black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” or “beerbongs rule.”
If we gather peaceably for any reason, cops should protect us. If we incite or commit violence, even in defense or racial justice, they should arrest us.
Justice is blind to the content of expression. Violent assemblies — whether race riots or keggers-gone-wild — are antithetical to freedom and illegal for that reason. As too-often observed, violence puts Black lives, blue lives, and other lives in danger.
Our society’s beautiful pursuits of tolerance, diversity, and civil rights for all mean nothing if we don’t enforce the law equally and show good police how much they matter. Without police upholding justice and peace, no lives will matter.
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