Over the weekend, a “Freedom March” hosted by free-speech protesters and counter-rallies by leftist Antifa radicals turned violent, then bloody, and police reportedly just stood by.
The event took place Sunday afternoon in Tom McCall Park in downtown Portland, Ore. A group called “Patriot Prayer,” led by video blogger Joey Gibson, held the event. The media characterizes Gibson’s group as Alt-Right, but he prefers to describe himself as pro-Trump and libertarian. The rally was to promote “freedom and tolerance for people who think differently.” They were met by leftists in black bloc garb, chanting “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Then civilization broke down.
According to accounts in both The Oregonian and the Willamette Week, punches were thrown, bodies were slammed to the ground, pepper spray was used by rioters spraying each other, projectiles were thrown. Even a skateboard was used as a weapon. In short, the scene was complete chaos.
Altercation happening, some kind of tear gas seems to have just been used pic.twitter.com/VLIThgmuyQ
— Janaki Chadha (@JanakiChadha) August 6, 2017
Where were the police? “Several blocks away,” according to Janaki Chadha, reporting for The Oregonian.
In stark contrast to recent protests, where Portland riot police formed a virtual wall separating protesters from each other, the police presence was minimal. Reporters spotted one police officer standing nearby shortly after the protests began, and a van of police officers in riot gear was spotted several blocks away on stand-by.
Katie Shepherd, reporting for the Willamette Week, adds that police officers warned the rioters that illegal activity would get them kicked out of the park — after the violence began.
Portland police allowed the melee to go largely unchecked, belatedly threatening over loudspeaker to arrest brawlers. By then, the fights had mostly stopped.
Police announced that any illegal activity would get the protesters kicked out of the park. But officers didn’t intervene when antifa members started throwing small projectiles at protesters wearing Make America Great Again hats.
When it was all over, three individuals were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.
This whole episode is disgusting. The violent behavior of rioters on both the Left and the Right is antithetical to civil society. More outrageous, however, is the inaction of the police.
The purpose of a police force is to shut this kind of violence down and arrest the people who break the law. Instead, the violent skirmishes continued intermittently for hours without interruption. At the end, only three individuals out of a reported crowd of around 100 on each side will face some justice for disturbing the peace and happiness of the community and for violating the rights of their countrymen.
That is contrary to the whole purpose of government in the view of the American founders — which is to secure the natural rights of mankind. Communities of men enter a social compact to form government for their mutual protection and happiness. In the founders’ view, this was the purpose of law and law enforcement: to restrict man’s passions and vices, to protect the weaker from the abuse of the stronger, and to ensure the well-being of society by separating lawbreakers from the community and administering justice.
The founders’ conception of government’s purpose is lost on most modern Americans, but there is general agreement that it is the role of police to “protect and serve” the community, to arrest and bring lawbreakers before the court, where justice is administered. If the police cannot or will not perform this basic duty of government, then what part of the government is securing our rights?
Surely not the federal government, which nowadays concerns itself with mandating that men be allowed to use women’s restrooms, confiscating wealth for redistribution, shutting down bakeries, paying for sex-reassignment surgeries for soldiers, seizing land, and rendering health insurance markets inoperable.
Whereas for the founders, the whole of the government was concerned with securing rights, that purpose is largely restricted to law enforcement today. And in Oregon, there is a police force that neglected to enforce the law.
If the government cannot or will not secure our basic rights, if law enforcement neglects to enforce the law, do we have a legitimate government at all?
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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