For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, it’s time Democrats paid the price.
As the long, hot summer of 2020 spirals into more street violence by rioters posing as protesters against police violence, the Republican senator is pushing one way to hold Democratic officers responsible for allowing the continuing chaos.
It’s a federal bill, introduced last week, to make cities liable for damage to businesses and personal property that’s being allowed to take place because the Democrats who control them are holding police back from their duty.
“We’re seeing growing violence, we’re seeing physical assault, we’re seeing radicals who are trying to really tear down our society, and none of this should be complicated,” Cruz told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday.
“You have a right to protest. I have a right to protest peacefully. We have a right to speak our minds. The First Amendment protects that.”
Cruz was responding specifically to a Wall Street Journal editorial published Monday evening that recapped in scathing terms the violence that struck major American cities over the weekend – cities that are uniformly controlled by the Democratic Party.
“The weekend’s events were a deliberate assault on public and private property, law enforcement, and public order,” The Journal editorial said. “Lawlessness begets lawlessness, and in recent weeks we’ve seen reports of vigilantes and far-right activists joining the melee from Richmond to Philadelphia. Local officials are allowing this disorder to occur, and the more it is indulged the worse it is likely to get.”
The key phrase is “local officials are allowing this disorder to occur.” And Cruz’s bill would make that tolerance for political violence too costly for cities to keep up.
“What you or I don’t have a right to do is hurt somebody else,” Cruz said. “You don’t have the right to physically assault someone else, to firebomb a police car, to loot and destroy a small business, to murder a police officer, and sadly we’ve seen all of that in riots throughout the country.”
“And all of that at the same time is being facilitated and even encouraged by Democratic politicians who have made a very cynical decision not to allow the police officers to actually do their job and protect physical safety, protect property, and so they’ve ordered the police officers to pull back and they’re letting their cities burn.”
Those are strong words, but there’s no doubt Democrats have demonstrated almost breathtaking disregard for the welfare of their own communities in the obsessive determination to show their disgust for President Donald Trump.
When riots swept through cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, the damage ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars, yet Democratic politicians have been more interested in displaying their solidarity with the rioters’ alleged cause – fighting non-existent “systemic racism” – than in defending the law and the property it protects.
The country has seen this show before. When the Freddie Gray riots rocked Baltimore in 2015, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became infamous for saying at a news conference that “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”
In the current round of destruction, officials in Portland, Oregon, have passed measures deliberately aimed at crippling the ability of their police force to use non-lethal methods to control rioters. (National Review’s Andrew McCarthy did his usual brilliant job explaining the problems with that here.)
In liberal-controlled Denver, a gathering to support police officers on July 19, featuring conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, was openly attacked by a mob of Black Lives Matter/antifa thugs while police stood by.
On Wednesday, Nick Rogers, head of the Denver police union, used a radio appearance to issue an apology to conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, one of the speakers at the “Back the Blue” rally (about the 6:15 mark of the interview).
As Fox News reported, Rogers said a “retreat order” had been given to the officers who should have protected the men and women who were out in support of the police.
And as shown by the recurring violence in the Northwest, where rioters in Portland are fighting nightly with federal agents, the benign neglect of Democratic officials is making the situation worse. As the Wall Street Journal editorial put it:
“Federal officers protecting federal property are now the targets of demonstrators, not the instigators of violence. The real blame lies with progressive city leaders, who have all but promised violent protesters that they can act with impunity.”
Cruz said the bill, the Restitution for Economic losses Caused by Leaders who Allow Insurrection and Mayhem (RECLAIM), would “hold state and local officials liable when rioters establish lawless ‘autonomous zones’ and officials abdicate their duty to protect their citizens.”
“If you are injured or if your property is damaged during a riot, and the local officials have made the deliberate decision to withhold police protection, that you can sue that city, you can sue that municipality and get triple damages,” Cruz said on “America’s Newsroom.”
“In addition,” he said, “any city that refuses to provide police protection during a riot is denied eligibility for federal funds.
“What these Democratic mayors and governors are doing, it is wrong. It is endangering people’s lives, and it’s denying the basic civil rights that every American is entitled to.”
The value of the bill is likely mostly symbolic. Even without the added liability, cities are hard-pressed to cover their own riot damage. (That’s why the mayor of Minneapolis wanted federal help to deal with the riots this year.) It wouldn’t be wise for anyone making a claim to bank on getting money out of it.
Fiscal reality aside, there’s also the political reality. The Cruz bill is only at the introduction stage, and even with a Republican-controlled Senate, it would still have to get through the Democrat-controlled House, so its chances of passage are virtually zero.
But symbolism is important, at a time when leftists agitators are using violence as a deliberate political weapon. Cruz has put down a marker that every American citizen who’s aghast at the violence in the cities — and the spineless connivance of local officials – should relate to.
This isn’t about race or “police brutality” or any other issue Black Lives Matter propagandists in the mainstream media are harping on.
This is about American law and order in the streets of the United States of America, and holding local officials accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities to their citizens.
If nothing else, Cruz’s bill will remind the rest of the country that the chaos plaguing the streets of major American cities has one real, underlying cause: the Democratic Party, both its unremitting hostility of the Democratic Party to the Trump White House and its persistent lies to the American people about their own country.
The long, hot summer of 2020 has shown just how willing Democratic officials have been to abdicate that responsibility – it’s time they paid a price.
And an even steeper one when the votes are counted in November.