American News Jul 30, 2021 7:27 PM EST

Two-thirds of voters want Congress to investigate the 2020 riots: survey

"What happened on Jan. 6 at the Capitol was horrific and inexcusable, but it's only one of the 574 riots that should be investigated, as a majority of voters agree per the Rasmussen poll sponsored by the National Police Association," said NPA spokeswoman Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith.

Two-thirds of voters want Congress to investigate the 2020 riots: survey
Mia Cathell The Post Millennial
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Now that House Democrats have choreographed a select "bipartisan" committee to investigate the Jan 6. riot on Capitol Hill, most voters believe that Congress should also investigate the violent Black Lives Matter riots that terrorized major Democrat-led cities throughout 2020, according to a new survey.

A recent national telephone and online survey by the National Police Association and Rasmussen Reports conducted in mid-July finds that 66 percent of likely American voters think Congress should investigate last year's violent riots when more than 2,000 police officers suffered injuries in the line of duty—compared to 21 percent of respondents who don't think Congress should investigate last year's protests and 13 percent of voters who were not sure.

The number of voters who want Congress to investigate last year's Black Lives Matter-Antifa riots is higher than the 49 percent who expressed support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee investigation of the Jan. 6 riot. 42 percent of the surveyed voters don't support Pelosi's probe and 63 percent think the BLM rioters should be charged like the Jan. 6 rioters.

Majorities of every racial group and political affiliation support a congressional investigation of the 2020 violent riots with 67 percent percent of white voters, 64 percent of black voters, 66 percent of Hispanics, and 62 percent of other minorities. 75 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats, and 63 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree.

62 percent of survey participants believe that elected officials who downplay the nationwide 2020 riots deserve to be criticized, a number higher than the 51 percent who feel that politicians deserve criticism for downplaying Jan. 6.

According to the survey, 53 percent of voters think Congress should award medals to the law enforcement agencies that defended local communities from violent looters and rioters in 2020 similar to the Congressional Gold Medal, "the highest honor that the Congress can bestow," proposed by Pelosi for the Capitol Police. Pelosi introduced the legislation in February to pay tribute to the Capitol Police and law enforcement personnel who protected the Capitol building.

The survey also found strong voter support for law enforcement on issues ranging from display of the "Thin Blue Line" flag to prosecution of so-called "quality of life" crimes. For example, 65 percent of respondents disagree with Black Lives Matter activists who claim that the American and the pro-police "Thin Blue Line" flags are symbols of racism—but rather are emblematic of patriotism and "Back the Blue" sentiments. When asked what motivates critics of the flags, just 24 percent of respondents pointed to purported concerns for racism while 43 percent cited attacking America and law enforcement.

65 percent of the surveyed voters believe President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should meet with the family of 77-year-old retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn who was shot dead last June in front of a business he was trying to protect from looters.

An overwhelming 76 percent of voters believe young Americans should be taught to comply with police rather than resist or flee arrest. 68 percent of the poll’s participants think that district attorneys refusing to prosecute trespassing, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, receiving stolen property, breaking and entering, resisting arrest, among other "quality of life" offenses is likely to increase the commission of those crimes.

In response to growing numbers of police encounters resulting in use of force due to noncompliance, the National Police Association created a public service announcement at the beginning of July informing the public on the dangers of not complying with police orders. The PSA campaign, titled "Comply Now, Complain Later," urges citizens to comply with police orders in order to assist in the reduction of officer use-of-force incidents.

Responding to the survey results, the National Police Association blamed the subsequent rise of violent crime on the reaction of elected officials who refused to let police apprehend the violence, which "sent a message to violent criminals across the nation that crimes will be allowed and criminals won't be touched." The police association cited "the lack of support from politicians" that has led to understaffed police forces and an overall recruitment and retention crisis.

"Of course, criminals noticed cops had been handcuffed, demoralized and diminished. Then [the criminals] acted accordingly." the NPA stated.

National Police Association spokeswoman Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, a retired sergeant and police advocate who spent almost 30 years in law enforcement commanding positions in investigations, narcotics, hostage negotiation, crime prevention, and field training, described to The Post Millennial what the remainder of 2021 looks like if the trend of violence persists at current levels.

Those most harmed will likely be residents in urban areas without the means to move to safer locations. Very often, victims of crime will be the very young, the elderly, and people of color, Brantner Smith predicted. "We must also have frank, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations about criminality," Brantner Smith said, meaning that we must specify who is committing violent crime and why.

When asked what should be done to quell the ongoing violence in America, she said that the only way to stop violent crime is to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate the offenders. "As a society, we have to make crime unprofitable and uncomfortable," she said, pointing out that police do not create legislation and are "merely tasked with enforcing the laws enacted by our legislators."

Brantner Smith said that if Americans want to see those laws enforced and for violent crime to end, they'll need to make that desire clear to political leadership.

"If the American public wants less crime, they'll have to make themselves heard," Brantner Smith emphasized to civilians.

As neighborhoods are in a constant state of civil unrest, she said that "civil unrest" is determined by people and politics, not by the police. "Every American law enforcement officer takes an oath to uphold the Constitution; the right to peaceful and lawful demonstrations is revered and should be protected. But political leaders will need to determine the 'rules for engagement' when it comes to dealing with civil unrest when it turns violent," Brantner Smith said.

She said that in many high crime areas, policing is being diminished, known as "de-policing," and prosecution has been weakened, known as "de-prosecution."

Bail reform has allowed violent offenders to return to the streets to continue an unchecked crime sprees. She cited that there are over 100 murder suspects free on bond in Chicago with only an electronic ankle monitor to track whereabouts.

Brantner Smith said there appears to be a direct correlation between the "Defund the Police" movement and increased violent crime rates in the United States. Local leaders in Washington voted to "defund" the district's police department by slashing $15 million from the police budget in mid-2020, she explained. A shooting near a live, televised Washington Nationals baseball game in mid-July that left three wounded brought the crime spike into the national spotlight.

However, all over the country, from Los Angeles to Seattle to New York City, "defunding" has turned into "refunding" the police as violent crime either rises or refuses to abate. The city of Minneapolis has to hire more cops after a year of rampant looting, rioting, and violent crime in the wake of George Floyd's death. In a legal triumph, the National Police Association's amicus brief supporting a lawsuit against Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey for allowing the city's police department to fall below minimum staffing has prevailed. Now the city has been ordered by the court to restore the police force's dwindled numbers.

"But defunding has taken its toll, and the recovery may be a long one," Brantner Smith stated. For each new hire at any police department, it takes about a year for that recruit to become a viable, solo patrol officer on the street, Brantner Smith explained. "Combine personnel and funding shortages with a workforce that has been vilified, scrutinized and overworked for the past 14 months, and you have a very unsafe environment for cops and citizens alike."

The National Police Association is also calling on Congress to launch a bipartisan investigation of the rampant 2020 riots, scrutinizing the associated looting, damage to private and public property, attacks on police officers, and failure to prosecute the offenders. The objective of the investigation, the National Police Association said, should be to determine how "such a complete failure to protect the public can be prevented from happening again" and outline what steps should be taken to regain the police force's numbers, criminal prosecutions, and incarcerations necessary to restore peace, safety, and justice.

According to another study of 68 cities by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, there were at least 574 protests across Canada and the United States in the summer of 2020 that involved acts of violence, including assaults on law enforcement officers, looting, and arson, which were among the most common criminal activities perpetrated during the civil unrest from May to July.

Report on the 2020 Protests and Civil Unrest | Major Cities Chiefs Association

About 72 percent of major city law enforcement agencies had officers harmed during the protests, the study found. One agency reported 50 officers being injured in a single week of protests. Another agency reported that 462 of its officers were injured during the protests in its jurisdiction.

Among the most common types of weapons used by rioters were "improvised or weapons of opportunity" such as rocks, bricks, pieces of landscape, and bottles, including frozen water bottles and glass bottles. More than three quarters of major city law enforcement agencies reported having officers attacked with the listed weapons. Another common violent tactic used by rioters involved hurling Molotov cocktails—homemade incendiary devices made of a bottle filled with flammable liquid with a means of ignition attached—at officers. One agency reported that the incendiary devices were thrown at officers standing at skirmish lines. In another instance, the devices were thrown behind officers, trapping cops between the ensuing fire and a barrier built by rioters.

Other items used as weapons or projectiles against officers included fire extinguishers, hammers, wood, cinder blocks, rocks, frozen fruit, and suspected bodily fluids. Multiple agencies reported being attacked by rioters who threw the dangerous objects onto officers from elevated positions such as apartment or business windows, landings, and rooftops.

Another common tactic was to use peaceful protesters as human shields while violent individuals attacked officers and attempted to incite violence by launching objects from deep within the demonstrating crowds. 41 percent of agencies reported lasers being flashed in the eyes of officers and about 63 percent reported fireworks being launched or thrown at officers. Other rioters appeared with more "traditional weapons" such as bats and poles, which 59 percent of agencies reported, and shields, which 53 percent of agencies reported.

A slight majority of agencies at 51 percent were also confronted with firearms, most of which were legally carried based on open carry laws. Rioters often carried AR-15s, shotguns, and handguns. Five agencies reported police officers being shot or critically injured during riots. One agency reported four officers being shot and a retired police captain killed by rioters using firearms. Another agency reported protesters discharging firearms from vehicle caravans and two agencies reported protesters being shot and killed by other protesters.

Over one quarter of agencies had police vehicles burned while more than half of agencies experienced arson incidents. A variety of structures were targeted including government buildings, places of worship, and businesses. Dumpsters, trash cans, trees, furniture, and cars were common objects set ablaze by arsonists. City hall, iconic public buildings, and federal courthouses were also targets of arson. Several agencies saw police precincts set on fire and hundreds of police cars were significantly damaged. One agency alone reported 300 police vehicles damaged to include 19 that were fully engulfed in flames.

Report on the 2020 Protests and Civil Unrest | Major Cities Chiefs Association

Looting was also a common occurrence at 2,385 instances with 62 percent of major city law enforcement agencies indicating that they've observed at least one incident of looting. The looting appeared to be coordinated and organized, the police agencies noted. Several cities encountered "looting caravans" that moved throughout different neighborhoods. One agency reported 115 commercial burglaries occurred in just one day. Two other agencies reported $927,000 worth of damage and another agency reported a single looting event at a shopping mall that resulted in over $70 million in damage.

Despite the findings, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn told CNN host Don Lemon that he believes the Jan. 6 riot was "a bigger threat to America" than the BLM-Antifa riots Americans endured in 2020.

Dunn said that the Jan. 6 rioters "whose goal [it] was to overthrow democracy" poses a greater threat to the nation than the far-left anarchists who sought to topple public statues and seize government property. Dunn's comments Wednesday came after he told the select committee's lawmakers about racial exchanges he witnessed with the Jan. 6 rioters, testifying Tuesday that he faced racist epithets while serving in uniform.

Tweets have since surfaced of Dunn's revealing that he was an ardent supporter of the BLM riots, calling the burning of Kenosha, Wisconsin, an "appropriate response." Dunn also falsely claimed that the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed after the nationwide incident, was "murder."

Brantner Smith commented that the current controlling political party was largely supportive of the BLM-Antifa riots of 2020.  "The media often downplayed them as 'mostly peaceful' or encouraged the attitude that the death of George Floyd was so egregious that American cities needed to be destroyed," she said. "Former officer Derick Chauvin was wrongly presented as the face of American law enforcement, and emotions ran so high that each 'controversial' police situation that occurred after May of 2020 was a new reason to riot, loot and burn."

"What happened on Jan. 6 at the Capitol was horrific and inexcusable, but it's only one of the 574 riots that should be investigated, as a majority of voters agree per the Rasmussen poll sponsored by the National Police Association," she added. "The Jan. 6 commission hearings allow for tightly controlled political theatrics without a true and accurate investigation of all that occurred that terrible day as well as the violent riots that occurred before."

Americans should be allowed to observe testimony from police officers from the 2020 riots, Brantner Smith said, including cops who watched rioters burn precincts to the ground, stood inside courthouses set on fire, were shot, beaten, and assaulted with urine, acid, and flaming Molotov cocktails. Brantner Smith said that elected officials of both parties and at all levels responded, not by apologizing to the constituents for failing to uphold the law, "but by accusing police officers of systemic racism, being in need of reform, reimagining and defunding."

"The nation needs to heal so that the political leadership, the police, the prosecutors and especially the community can work together to stop this terrible trend in violent crime that is destroying lives in our most vulnerable areas," Brantner Smith concluded.

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