Few Conservatives Take Police Abuses Seriously
America has just endured another riot. And just as the L.A. riots could not be understood apart from both the beating of Rodney King and the decades of policing that shaped the relationship between the LAPD and the black community, Monday’s riot in Baltimore, Maryland cannot be understood apart from both the death of Freddie Gray and years of misbehavior by Baltimore’s police department.
Why do so few conservatives grant that?
Lots of urban police departments are plagued by scandal and rife with police brutality. But almost none of the scandals are covered in movement conservative magazines. What will it take for most conservatives to acknowledge the extent of the problem?
Whole books could be written about additional, documented abuses by Baltimore police alone. The evidence is overwhelming. Where is movement conservatism’s response to that disorder? For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that the lawlessness and brutality of the Baltimore police had nothing to do with the city’s riots. There is still no excuse for a movement that perennially ignores the decades-old scandal of our criminal justice system. If public school teachers or community organizers behaved as badly, the outrage on AM radio and Fox News would be constant. Yet police abuses as numerous and egregious as what the Baltimore Sun documented in this stellar investigation garnered orders of magnitude less coverage and outrage from conservatives than James O’Keefe stinging ACORN.
Disparities like that are a problem for an ideological movement that purports to believe in upholding rights named in the Constitution, guarding against the tendency of governments to abuse citizens, and ensuring that extraordinary powers are checked and balanced.
The Baltimore police department cannot be trusted.
That is an inconvenient truth for anyone who understands that Baltimore needs a police force to keep law and order. It is nevertheless true. That’s why reforms are urgent.