Of all the cities in the United States that have suffered rioting over the past few months, there isn’t one that has seen quite as much trouble as Portland, Oregon. The unrest in the city has stretched from the end of May all the way to this month. There doesn’t seem to be an end to it either.
Not long ago, there was an exposé by the New York Times that alleged that these rioters were even considering murdering police officers. There were also reports of them going to residential areas to terrorize citizens.
It’s a desperate state of affairs, but the one thing that could make things worse is for there to be a complete lack of accountability for this mayhem; for those who were arrested committing crimes to get a free pass.
Incredibly, though, that’s exactly what’s happening. The district attorney of Multnomah County, which is where Portland is located, has dropped nearly 70 percent of the charges levied against those who were arrested during the rioting. There have been 974 demonstration-related cases, with 273 classed as felonies. Of the total number of cases, 543 were rejected in the ‘interest of justice.’
One thing that is worth acknowledging is that some of the charges are not severe. According to Oregon law, some are as minor as ducking curfew or jaywalking. So it can at least be understood why the district attorney might simply wag his finger and say ‘don’t do it again’.
However, there is a chilling effect to this that isn’t being considered, and this is that there will more than likely be repeat offenders. With 50 of the people released being charged with a felony originally, there are obviously some people who are looking to do real damage within those cases that were dismissed.
It’s my personal opinion that the more severe the case, the more likely the perpetrator will be keen to try to wreck something again. And of course, those who obey the law expect the law to be enforced. This is simply common sense, so I wonder why the district attorney doesn’t have the sense to implement it?
During this whole mess, the US Attorney’s Office deputized several members of law enforcement in the area. This essentially means that the federal government can come in and prosecute if the situation calls for it. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler actually pleaded for the government not to do so, only to be met with a resounding no. Obviously the mayor did not have the foresight to realize that allowing these situations to go on simply creates a feedback loop that encourages the behavior. Quite simply, the best way to get more riots is not to punish the rioters.
The lesson that needs to be learned here is the same one that applies to Chicago district attorney Kim Foxx. Being too relaxed when it comes to criminals only serves to create an environment in which they will thrive.
Every action has to have a consequence. It’s the consequence of searing pain that keeps you from putting your hand on the stove. It’s the consequence of potential death that keeps most people from skydiving. Whether the Portland government likes it or not, it is the potential consequence of ending up in prison that might just stop many of these crimes from happening in the first place.
The message is simple. Do not take the consequence away. Or the next thing you know, your city could be constantly on fire for months on end.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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