While it is true most police officers are decent, honest, moral public servants dedicated to upholding the law and keeping peace, we have by now all seen coverage of how some law enforcement agencies are instigating violence toward peaceful protesters.
But an even greater threat to justice and safety than aggressive identifiable, uniformed officers are anonymous, unidentifiable vigilantes.
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded Donald Trump provide a list of agencies involved in law enforcement activities around Washington, D.C., arguing in a letter “the American people need to know who is in charge, what is the chain of command, what is the mission, and by what authority is the National Guard from other states operating in the capital,” adding:
“The practice of officers operating with full anonymity undermines accountability, ignites government distrust and suspicion, and is counter to the principle of procedural justice and legitimacy during this precarious moment in our nation’s history. As peaceful people all over the country turn out to honor the memory of George Floyd and protest for change, we must ensure that their safety and their constitutional rights are being respected.”
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser sent Trump a similar letter:
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020
Murphy explained to Capitol Hill reporters:
“This is unacceptable that you have armed uniformed security, with no identification. It allows for really dangerous potential mischief. When things go wrong you need to be able to identify who it was that punched a reporter or took a club to a protester, and without identification, there’s really no way to do real accountability.”
Rep. Beyer tweeted:
Unacceptable for uniformed federal officers policing constitutionally-protected assemblies to refuse to identify themselves to people who pay their salaries.
Denying accountability to the public they serve ensures abuses.
I'm working on legislation to stop this.
More to come. https://t.co/1rF8Q0Pqxr
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) June 3, 2020
On Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr proclaimed that in the nation’s Capitol “there will be even greater law enforcement resources and support.”
Some of that mysterious support is brandishing insignia matching the Bureau of Prisons.
But they aren’t talking.
“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans. [The] multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion.”
Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) explained in a joint statement:
“Deploying the military in an attempt to quash these protests would be an attack on our constitution, our democracy, and our people. Congress must send an unequivocal message that this grotesque abuse of power will be stopped.”
One of the characteristics of fascism is using law enforcement as an arm of the state to quell citizen’s civil rights.
This week has been a tremendous step in that direction.