America is on the brink.
In the wake of the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and in the nationwide protests and sometime riots that have already claimed 21 lives, there is a growing movement to defund or even to abolish the police in municipalities across America in pursuit of “alternatives” to public safety.
The proposals come at a time when municipalities and big cities are already limited in resources due to significant drops in revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic economic lockdowns, and now strained by the ongoing protests.
Combined with arrest and release programs in larger cities like New York, this is a recipe for a crime wave at a minimum, or worse, taken to its extreme with disbanding police, a breakdown of society and anarchy, followed by a new form of government.
What if you call 911 and there’s nobody there to pick up the phone?
Exhibit A might be the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle where Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan announced that police in the city’s East Precinct were leaving the area. Immediately, Antifa and other armed militants have taken control of this area of the city consisting of six city blocks and are manning barricades to hold their newly claimed territory.
Already, there are indications that Seattle might abandon other sections of the city as well by withdrawing police, including the West Precinct where 911 call centers are located, reports the Post Millennial’s Ari Hoffman. According to two police officers quoted in the report: “Antifa are extorting money and businesses in the Capital Hill Zone for protection money,” and “Those running this Capital Hill Zone are employing stop and frisk to anyone who walks through, and shaking down businesses for $500 for protection.”
On Twitter, Andy Ngo reports that one member of Seattle Antifa called for reinforcements: “We need more people with guns at the CHAZ.”
In a June 10 press conference, when confronted with Antifa taking control of sections of Seattle, Washington Democratic Governor Jay Inslee responded, “That’s news to me,” either feigning ignorance or completely unaware of the rebellion breaking out in his own state.
On Medium.com, the group under the author name “FreeCapitolHill” set forth a lengthy manifesto of demands: abolish the police department; banning armed force throughout the city; abolition of juvenile detention centers; a federal Justice Department investigation of police brutality in Seattle; reparations for victims of police brutality; doxing of police officers involved in police brutality; retrials for any minorities convicted of violent crimes; decriminalization of “The George Floyd Rebellion” including “immediate release of all protestors currently being held”; the “replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs” and “autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.”
The list goes on, including broader calls to de-gentrify the city, restoration of city arts funding, free college, an end to homeless “sweeps,” a new “decentralized” election system to and segregated health care for blacks.
That’s Seattle, and so with its large population of radical protesters and militants, that’s who takes control when the police are ordered to abandon sections of the city. That’s their new world order that could take control there if left unimpeded.
In other big cities, say, New York and Los Angeles, if replicated, you might expect different outcomes to disbanding police depending on which local factions have the muscle to take control of areas, including surges in gang-related and drug-related violence, turf wars and the like. It wouldn’t be the first time.
That is because power abhors a vacuum. If the government lays down its arms, and we witness a brief, disorderly return to the state of nature, somebody else will quickly come in to fill the void. The ones that intend to last will use armed force. Period. Call it “police” or “revolutionary guards” or whatever, it’s always the same: the monopoly on the use of force.
History is replete with examples of mob-based takeovers of government: the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, Mussolini’s March on Rome, Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch followed by his rise to Chancellor years later, the Khmer Rouge, Mao’s China and so forth.
Sometimes totalitarians are able to take control via democratic means. Other times, they take power by force. The outcomes are similar, though. In the end, to maintain power, these regimes always resort to deadly force against dissidents and other criminals.
Defunding or abolishing the police are not the end, they are the means to the end. This is an attempt to overthrow the government born out of violent revolutionary ideology, plain and simple.
And a free-thinking people should not wait around to find out what happens next. On June 1, President Donald Trump promised that “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Which is provided for under federal law. Under 10 U.S. Code § 252, “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”
This section of law, originally enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1792 by George Washington and updated in 1795 in response to the Whiskey Rebellion, and amended various times including 1807 (when the Insurrection Act replaced it), 1861 and 1956, should never be used lightly. It’s breaking glass in case of an emergency, and sadly, this might be one of those times.
The most prominent examples of the law’s use include Abraham Lincoln to wage the Civil War and in 1957 when Arkansas tried to use the Arkansas National Guard to block school integration and President Eisenhower federalized the Guard to enforce Brown v. Board of Education. Neither of those occasions were at the request of the governors involved. In 1794, Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Mifflin was initially uncooperative in Washington’s request to call forth the state militia but relented when it was clear diplomacy was failing.
It might not be popular and perhaps it won’t help with the election, but it may very well be necessary to avert a larger national conflagration. This calls for decisive action. Put it down now, Mr. President, while there’s still time.
For now, President Trump is appealing to Washington Gov. Inslee to end the rebellion, stating in a tweet: “Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be sto[p]ped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!”
What we’re seeing in cities across America right now is a flash point for general rebellion. It’s as clear as day. Defunding or abolishing the police is the new secession, the new nullification. And if it catches on, America will burn.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
Updated 6/11/20, 6:04 a.m. Correction: The original section of federal law for putting down rebellions dates back to 1792 in order to authorize action intervening in the Whiskey Rebellion. It was made permanent in 1795.