Vanita Gupta, head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, has told a lawyers group in Colorado that slavery and Jim Crow helped fuel the Ferguson and Baltimore riots.
The last few days have seen a number of fanciful stories with the Obama administration seemingly questioning the authority of local police. I’ve long maintained that the administration is nakedly seeking to federalize policing standards — but get rid of local police? No way, that sounds like something broadcast from a shortwave station in Austin, Texas.
But then up steps Vanita Gupta to lend some credibility to the idea that some want to disband local police and replace police powers with the federal government. Speaking to a group of left-wing lawyers in Colorado, Gupta had this to say:
The conversation in these rooms, however, is not about whether to have police or not but about what kind of policing communities want and deserve.
There is no question that we need police in our communities.
The conversation? What conversation is Gupta hearing that needs to be corrected? Who brought up the idea we might not need police? Nobody sane, for sure.
If you read the entirety of Gupta’s speech, you’ll get a sense of what is going on in the mind of the anti-police left. Officials in this administration still think it is rational and acceptable to bring up the name Michael Brown in the context of anything other than a likely felon against whom deadly force was justifiably used. Behold Gupta:
Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. John Crawford. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray.
These names and many others have become familiar to us under tragic circumstances in recent months. Their deaths and those of other unarmed African American men and women in encounters with police officers, have provoked widespread responses across the country and have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. In communities of color, in particular, the reaction has been stark and sobering.
In the seven months I have been at the Civil Rights Division, I have spent a lot of time with local leaders and community members in cities all across America, including with numerous mothers who have lost their children in officer-involved shootings. The pain, anger, frustration — the lack of trust in the police — is real, and it is profound.
Gupta asks the question that many Americans have already asked and answered:
It’s worth asking, first, how did we get here? And second, what are we going to do about it?
To most law-abiding Americans, the idea of fleeing from the police, or worse, charging at a policeman you have already punched, is simply beyond the realm of possibility.
So how did we get here? Was it a breakdown of values? Perhaps a pervasive tolerance for lawlessness? Of course not. Says Gupta:
Let’s start with the first question and consider the source of the mistrust. Mistrust can’t be explained away as the kneejerk reaction of the ill-informed or the hyperbolic. It’s in part the product of historical awareness about the role that police have played in enforcing and perpetuating (wait for it! here it comes!) slavery, the Black Codes, lynchings and Jim Crow segregation.