About 25 years ago David Dinkins may or may not have uttered the immortal words, “Let them vent their rage.“ Whether he actually said this to his acting police commissioner or not, the effects of his inaction were the same: three dead, hundreds injured and millions of dollars in property damage.
The occasion was the infamous Crown Heights riot of 1991 when thousands of young (and not so young) African Americans rampaged through the Chasidic neighborhood unhindered by the local cops, who, much to their chagrin, were ordered to stand down.
I was in Crown Heights and saw this incredible piece of Americana unfolding. It is well documented (Wikipedia’s a good place to start). The mayor’s inaction is described in detail in the New York State-commissioned Girgenti report that was produced some time after the riot.
Thus the giant.
Now, I know that Barack Obama has heard of David Dinkins and as a vaunted community organizer he surely has knowledge of the Crown Heights riot, which starred other notable community organizers like Al Sharpton, Sonny Carson and many more.
So, without minimizing the evidently unacceptably lethal policing of the past few days, it was with disbelief that I heard the president say, while visiting Spain, after the sniper-slaughter of five American cops, “I don’t think that you can hold well-meaning activists who are doing the right thing and peacefully protesting responsible for everything that is uttered at a protest site,” he continued. “This week people felt hurt and angry and so some of this is just venting, but I think that the overwhelming majority of people who are involved in the Black Lives Matter movement – what they really want to see is a better relationship between the police and the community so they can feel that it’s serving them.”
What about the vast majority of well-meaning police who are trying to keep the peace despite assaults by snipers (more than one!), molotov cocktails, thrown rocks and just plain massive incivility on the part of “peaceful demonstrators (I encountered plenty of those in Crown Heights in 1991)?”
The president, himself, has been doing plenty of venting during the build-up to the present conflagration. His now predictable sprints to judgement have borne plenty of poisonous fruit and produced the divisiveness that grips the country.
When he speaks of venting he’s only drawing on a lesson of history in the skewed-left way that is the hallmark of his administration.
And if the country goes crazy-right in the next election, I guess he will blame Dave Dinkins.