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End the mayhem and madness: The rule of law, not mobs, must prevail

Have we gone mad? In liberal cities and states, American citizens are more likely to be arrested for attending church than for fire-bombing one – as a crowd of rioters tried to do in Washington, D.C.

Enough. Americans cannot and will not abide this violence and destruction any longer. If any government official does wrong, every American has the constitutional right to protest and demand justice, but no American is entitled to commit violence or destruction or join a lawless mob. The rule of law, not the rule of mobs, must prevail.

First, we must fully understand that peaceful protestors demonstrate, they do not destroy. These are, in fact, riots – led by radicals, anarchists and criminals bent on mayhem and chaos. But far too many public officials don’t seem to understand this fact. Instead, they beg and plead with the public to be calm, peaceful, and responsible. But the many good people who heed those calls were never burning, looting, or vandalizing stores, monuments, and homes or attacking their fellow citizens or police. The radicals hear those pleas as signals of weakness and fear in face of their street-level terror. It only emboldens these predators to commit more violence, sow more fear, and wreak further havoc. These outlaws believe they have the law on the run.

It is critical that the thin blue line that defends order from chaos have the support of their own elected leaders. Without that, innocent and upstanding law officers are left to doubt if doing their duty is appreciated. Law officers should be held accountable for wrongdoing, but that does not allow for the slandering, denigration, and disrespect of hundreds of thousands of self-sacrificing, courageous and honorable men and women of law enforcement. These fine officers spend a career serving others in countless ways, often at risk of their own lives, showing patience and understanding in the face of provocation. Nothing could be more harmful to achieving a safe society than having great officers depart the profession and others never apply. The crimes of the few should not outweigh the virtues of the many. That’s why we need more good cops, not fewer.

We should immediately deploy all necessary resources and force to restore order and uphold justice for all. As Attorney General, I helped rebuild state, local, and federal law enforcement partnerships. Those should be activated to identify, pursue, and apprehend dangerous rioters before they strike again. The National Guard and other federal forces should be called on when needed. Together, we should “flood the zone” and target, remove and vigorously prosecute these rioters and criminals as soon as unrest begins. This strategy, conducted with overwhelming and combined numbers and force, would quell these riots before they engulf whole communities and spread further. We cannot allow our police forces to be outnumbered or overrun when facing these kinds of violent hordes.

President Trump is right: these rioters are acting as terrorists and should be treated as such.

The burning of the Minneapolis police station and the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, the murder of an African American federal security officer in California, the injuries to more than 60 Secret Service agents defending the White House, and the countless other assaults on law officers, National Guardsmen, first responders, business owners, and innocent bystanders are not just attacks on people and property, they are direct attacks our system of justice and our commitment to be a nation of laws.

The last few nights have made clear that rioters and looters have twisted the memory of George Floyd and have distorted the message of justice from the peaceful protestors and have turned it into an excuse for anarchy, crime, and destruction. George Floyd deserved better.

Fortunately, security cameras and the widespread use of smartphones provide us with substantial evidence that can be used to bring the rioters to justice. State, local, and federal enforcement agencies across the country should commit to using all of their investigative resources to identify and prosecute the criminals depicted in those videos and images of assaults, destruction and looting over the past few nights. Every one of them must be brought to justice. And elected officials must commit to supporting that good work, not continuing to encourage the riots through leniency.

Violent, destructive mobs cannot be allowed to rule our streets one minute longer. It must end now!

Jeff Sessions has served as a U.S. Senator and Attorney General and is a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama