Once again, the tail wishes to wag the dog in Madison. The latest example is a short-sighted and dangerous attempt by the City Council to limit the range of tools Madison Police have available to them in times of crisis and danger to the public.
Longtime readers know I view a legitimate protest march being vastly different from a riot. In 2020, when national concern was registered about the death of George Floyd many local people marched and demonstrated peacefully. Madison Police used the resources of their department to make sure marches were safe by closing streets and routing traffic away from the crowds. Local police are not averse to assisting the right to free speech in the public square, in fact, they help enhance it.
But as the daylight would give way to darkness, however, the marches were taken over by a violent element that was not driven by any consideration for policy changes through a due process of governing. There was no higher calling about social justice or honoring Floyd. Instead, the looting and mindless ransacking of businesses on State Street and around the State Capitol continued night after night. What was as disturbing to me as the destruction itself was the attempt by some social ‘advocates’ who tried to morph the two—trying to rationalize the wanton criminal behavior as some extension of anger about policing in general. The absurdity of such a dialogue was mind-numbing.
Trying to find kinship between a protest march and a full-blown riot is like trying to align a tomato with a suspension bridge. It simply can not be done. While police work to make sure protesters are safe when pressing their message, we should also want law enforcement to be most determined to quell and stop the smashing of windows, the tearing down of statuary at the statehouse (!) and to stem the undermining of basic law and order.
As such, I fully support the police using tactics that will meet the mission as needed. It then comes as no surprise that I am very much opposed to 8th District Alderperson Juliana Bennett’s proposal to enact a ban on MPD and all other mutual aid agencies using tear gas, mace, all chemical irritants, and impact projectiles for use in crowd/riot control. Living on the Madison Isthmus I can attest to the great alarm homeowners and fellow residents felt as the live news reports showed the destruction occurring while we stood on our balcony and looked out towards the statehouse dome wondering what morning light would show for damage. As we know the damage was widespread and extremely costly.
The reason we should care about the allowance for such chemical tactics to stop a riot was perhaps best summed up by Bonnie Roe a local concerned citizen. “What if tear gas could not have been used by MPD to help an MFD firetruck get through an unruly crowd, during a night of civil unrest in August of 2020, to put out a fire before many gallons of gasoline were ignited, causing a massive explosion and endangering many lives?”
This resolution from Bennett was referred to Madison’s Public Safety Review Committee where on August 10th it passed on a 4-1 vote. All three of the Alders on this committee favored the ban, so there is much concern from those who favor law and order about the passage of this matter. The next city council meeting on September 20th will deal with this resolution where an expected vote will be held. The matter only requires a simple majority (11 out of 20) votes to pass.
The implications of its passage should not be lost on Madison residents. That was spelled out by James L. Palmer, II, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. He stated, “Drastically impairing MPD’s ability to resort to de-escalation tools – especially when it has done so on a very limited basis – would be a regressive policy change that would only serve to compromise the safety of the community and the police. Furthermore, it would likely undermine the city’s ability to rely upon the mutual aid of its neighbors who are unlikely to risk these serious public safety implications”
I would ask, for the sake of sanity and sound policing for the benefit of the vast majority of law-abiding in our city that you contact your alder and demand a NO vote on the resolution to undermine Madison Police.
So why do I care about this issue? I wish to conclude this post with a personal explanation. As a boy growing up in Waushara County, there was one thing that could be counted on each summer with certainty. There would be at least one major thunderstorm that would be so dramatic as to produce straight-line winds that would snap large trees and rip a roof off a barn or old shed and carry it into a nearby field. Following the weather reports on the radio and the tracking of clouds at home, we could figure out where some storm damage might be viewed. Dad was a 40-year elected member of the Hancock Town Board and so needed to know what road cleanup was required after a storm.
I am much aware of those drives in the country as Dad assessed the storm damage. I also recall the first time I parked at a ramp following the 2020 State Street rioting. There had been scores of newspaper photos and television coverage, but seeing for myself the enormity of the damage to every single store, block after block, was hard to fathom. This past week I caved to one of my weaknesses—gyro sandwiches—and after devouring one walked State to again pass empty storefront after empty storefront. Yes, some are the result of a pandemic. Too many, however, are the result of a riot. A needless series of violent and outlandish actions. Our city must have the tools at our disposal to stem riots in the future.
I again urge my readers to contact your alder and demand a NO vote on the resolution to disallow the use of tear gas, mace, all chemical irritants, and impact projectiles for use in crowd/riot control by Madison Police.
2 thoughts on “Madison Police Must Have Right To Use Chemical Tactics To Stem Riots, City Council May Vote To Curb Their Use”
“What was as disturbing to me as the destruction itself was the attempt by some social ‘advocates’ who tried to morph the two—trying to rationalize the wanton criminal behavior as some extension of anger about policing in general.”
The Gotch had an exchange on neighborsnextdoor (they report/you decide!) with one of the…um…SJWs you depict above. To describe that exchange as monumentally troubling would be a supreme understatement.
An earnest effort was made by yours truly to illustrate that many State Street business owners (many who are minorities) had their lives/businesses hopelessly interrupted (some irreparably, as your stroll illustrated) by this manufactured hissy fit.
The response? “Well, it resulted in some real REAL cool art.”
Where? On the boarded-up non-performing business’s storefront, that’s where.
This person genuinely believed that the graffiti which defaced these storefronts was the “silver-lining” that kinda, you know, like, counter-balanced all the business owners’ financial/emotional/physical/psychological/existential angst.
First, how can someone that breathtakingly clueless be reached logically, intellectually, or empathetically, and secondly, why even waste the time on someone whose mind is so unequivocally made up that it refuses to be bothered with the facts a reality-based Universe freely provides?
“The absurdity of such a dialogue was mind-numbing.”
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