News & Politics

Manhattan DA Won't Prosecute Curfew Violators, Urges More Protests

AP Photo/Kevin Hagen

New York City authorities have hit upon a brilliant strategy, one that Neville Chamberlain would certainly approve of.

Give the rioters and protesters everything they want while looking the other way as they trash the city. Appeasing mobs and dictators doesn’t work out very well for the appeasers. But those who are being appeased make out like bandits — literally.

The Manhattan District Attorney didn’t exactly get on his knees and grovel to the mob. But his stomach-turning statement on why he wasn’t going to prosecute curfew violators should make decent, law-abiding people turn away in disgust.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. today announced the D.A.’s Office’s policy regarding arrests on charges of Unlawful Assembly and Disorderly Conduct during ongoing demonstrations against the use of excessive force and killing of George Floyd. Previously, the D.A.’s Office’s policy was to offer individuals charged with these low-level offenses an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, meaning their cases would be dismissed within six months. Under the new policy, the D.A.’s Office declines to prosecute these arrests in the interest of justice. The Office will also continue to evaluate and decline to prosecute other protest-related charges where appropriate.

“The prosecution of protestors charged with these low-level offenses undermines critical bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Days after the killing of George Floyd, our nation and our city are at a crossroads in our continuing endeavor to confront racism and systemic injustice wherever it exists. Our office has a moral imperative to enact public policies which assure all New Yorkers that in our justice system and our society, black lives matter and police violence is a crime. We commend the thousands of our fellow New Yorkers who have peacefully assembled to demand these achievable aims, and our door is open to any New Yorker who wishes to be heard.”

I get an image of Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper in the air and proclaiming “peace in our time.”

Not prosecuting curfew scofflaws and disorderly protesters will lead to more of the same. And if the district attorney won’t stand up and enforce the law, who will?

A curfew is not a suggestion — like when your parents used to tell you to be home by midnight. It’s the law. It’s critical in order to keep the city from going up in flames that protesters understand that actions have consequences — even minor actions like breaking a curfew.

But Vance defeats the entire purpose of imposing a curfew in the first place.

The D.A.’s Office’s policy is designed to minimize unnecessary interactions with the criminal justice system, reduce racial disparities and collateral consequences in low-level offense prosecutions, and enable the Office and court system to preserve resources for the prosecution of serious crimes. If evidence emerges that any individuals personally participated in violence against police officers, destruction, or looting, such individuals will be charged with appropriate crimes.

In this case, it’s vitally necessary to give the curfew violators a “necessary interaction” with the criminal justice system. It’s called a deterrent. Police are a deterrent to violence. An armored car is usually a wonderful deterrent to violence.

Authorities are not dealing with rational, logical thinking. They are dealing with a mob, with mob psychology that is the closest humans get to exhibiting basic animal instincts. Without deterrence, you have chaos. With chaos comes destruction and death.

If authorities want to pull the police back and allow the protesters and rioters to have their way, New York will be a smoking ruin in 48 hours. So the terrified mayor allows the police to try and keep order but then criticizes them for doing so. And the prosecutor decries “police violence” and releases lawbreakers without a by-your-leave from the police.

Cops can’t arrest people if they’re not going to be prosecuted. What’s the point? It’s a wasted effort unless those who break the law and threaten the peace are given a reason not to do so.