by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Milwaukee unrest has taken on a more explicitly racist cast than other riots after officer-involved shootings, in yet another new low for the anti-police movement that has roiled our cities in recent years. …
… In other officer-involved shootings or deaths that have occasioned unrest, there has at least been a colorable case that the police acted wrongfully. In Milwaukee, a black officer shot an armed man, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who by all accounts ran from his car after a traffic stop and defied an order to drop his (stolen) gun. The officer wore a body camera, and the police chief says the video shows Smith raising his gun before the cop shot him dead.
Presumably we will see the entire video and know more soon enough, but it’s not hard to believe that Smith was capable of recklessly threatening the officer. His long rap sheet is the story, in microcosm, of why inner-city communities are so miserably unlivable, and need to be policed so intensely. …
… Law enforcement should treat everyone professionally and respectfully, and be held responsible when it doesn’t. There are useful reforms to make the police more accountable, such as the body cameras that now loom so large in controversial cases. But the Milwaukee disorder is another stark illustration of how often the agitation over police-involved shootings fades into a noxious nihilism, heedless of the facts or reason.
Burning down neighborhood business establishments, throwing bricks at cops, trashing police cars, and chasing white people — all features of the Milwaukee riots — may feel good, but they are simply more symptoms of the social breakdown that police are asked to respond to every day. Even if the cops conduct themselves perfectly in such communities, there will inevitably be tensions and tragedies that don’t occur in more orderly places where young men aren’t so often the perpetrators — and victims — of crime.