On June 1, President Trump castigated the nation’s governors for not being “tougher” on the protestors who were throwing rocks at police. “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said.
It appears, though, that not only did some of the protestors engage in vandalism– law enforcement officers did, too. Mother Jones has published a video collection showing systematically puncturing the tires of every car in a K-Mart parking lot on May 30 and under a highway overpass on May 31. Not one of those cars is believed to have thrown any rocks or broken any windows.
According to the Star Tribune, the persons responsible were members of two law enforcement agencies– state troopers and Anoka County deputy sheriffs– and they can be seen in a video stabbing holes in the sidewalls of the tires. That’s important to note because sidewall punctures can’t be plugged. The tires will have to be replaced. Vandalism (ie., property damage) pure and simple.
Whenever you find bad behavior like this in any institution, you can be sure that the problem is at the top of the hierarchy. Law enforcement officers don’t get to be mean and vindictive– and unlawful– simply because they’re pissed off. Sheriff’s spokesman Bruce Gordon had to admit what the videos showed– law enforcement officers involved in slashing tires– but instead of condemning the clearly illegal activity (destruction of other people’s property), he chose to defend it.
“State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires […] in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement,” Gordon said.
The vehicles were all parked. Legally. But put that aside for the moment. The justification continued:
“While not a typical tactic, vehicles were being used as dangerous weapons and inhibited our ability to clear areas and keep areas safe where violent protests were occurring.”
Hmm. I didn’t realize parked cars could be used as dangerous weapons. And does flattening all four tires on every car actually prevent them from being moved (without a tow)? In point of fact, though, the area was never “cleared” by police, making the explanation both disingenuous and self-serving.
This type of “covering up” is what allows law enforcement officers to place themselves above the law, and to negate the rights of those they are hired to protect and serve. It allows police to engage in criminal behavior without fear of retribution. Unless they definitively knew that the cars belonged to criminals who might use them for “getaway,” the troopers’ actions were in fact criminal.
It would be a hard sell for police to claim that Los Angeles documentary and television producer Andrew Kimmel intended to return to his car and then use it as a dangerous weapon. But his tires were also flattened by the uniformed thugs.
I’m waiting on the President to post a tweet to the governor and tell him this type of conduct won’t be tolerated, and that if they do it again they should be put in jail for ten years.
I’m waiting, but I won’t hold my breath.