The former police commissioner of Philadelphia and current co-chair of President Obama’s task force on community policing said on “Meet the Press” that he expects there will be trouble at one or both of the political conventions later this month.
Charles Ramsey, one of the co-chairs of President Obama’s task force in community policing and former Philadelphia police commissioner, told NBC’s Chuck Todd he doesn’t think the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions are going to occur “without some incident taking place.”
“It’s unfortunate, but that’s what I personally think. I hope that’s not the case. But you’ve got too many people that are now with this extreme rhetoric, and that is just not good for anybody,” Ramsey said. The GOP convention begins on July 18 in Cleveland. The following week, the Democrats will kick off their convention in Philadelphia.
When it comes to the “volatile time we’re in right now,” Ramsey also stated his belief that thoughtful people need to “sit down and engage in dialogue” in order to come up with the solutions to the problems that our country currently faces.
Ramsey was appointed to the presidential task force on 21st century policing in the wake of tragedy and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The former commissioner said that there has “absolutely” been progress made because of the task force but that stumbling blocks along the way should be expected.
Ramsey also said that the country was “sitting on a powder keg”:
“We are sitting on a powder keg,” he said. “You can call it a powder keg. You can say that we’re handling nitroglycerin, but obviously, when you just look at what’s going on, we’re in a very, very critical point in the history of this country.”
Ramsey told NBC News’ Chuck Todd that some crime rates are on the rise, explaining that, on average, there are about 13,000 murders in the United States each year but that “these are not shootings by police.”
“These are people killing people,” he said.
“Who do you think goes after the people responsible for these crimes? It’s the cops,” he added. “And we encounter a lot of very dangerous people out there on the street. So we can look at numbers in a variety of ways, but I think we need to keep it in context that police officers have a very challenging and often dangerous job. Now that’s not to say that we should not be mindful of the fact that we have some officers that use excessive force, that shoot people when it’s not totally justified. We’ve got to really address that and hold them accountable.
“But it is not a reflection of the department and policing at large.”
It certainly won’t take much to set off that “powder keg.” The demonstrations last night were getting unruly and hundreds of arrests were made. It might take a single incident involving a demonstrator that sets off the mob and starts a conflagration that could burn for weeks.
As for the conventions, both venues are going to see massive numbers of protesters with the anarchists set to light the fuse and Black Lives Matter looking to “shut it down.” That’s an incendiary mix that authorities would rather not see.
Political conventions are the most sensitive and vulnerable elements of our democracy. If there are attempts to disrupt or otherwise destroy the conclaves, we would be right to question what kind of country America has become and what sorts of extreme measures should be taken to restore the situation.