The Proper Way to Deal with the Not-So-Peaceful Parts of Mostly Peaceful Protests™

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

We already know that District Attorney Larry Krasner (D-Philadelphia) hates the police and will not seriously prosecute #BlackLivesMatter protesters who break the law and destroy property, so, to do the right thing, unfortunately, requires that the feds take action. It’s a good thing it was Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton appointing United States Attorneys! From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Arson charges against prominent West Philly activist draw swift rebuke from protest movement

by Jeremy Roebuck, Posted: October 29, 2020- 10:43 AM

A federal indictment charging a prominent West Philadelphia activist and two others with setting a police car on fire during racial injustice protests this spring was unsealed Thursday, drawing a swift response from protesters and lawyers who questioned the nature and timing of their arrests.

The filing, though sparse on details, alleges Anthony Smith — a social studies teacher and one of the lead organizers of the Philadelphia Coalition for Racial and Economic Legal Justice (Philly for REAL Justice) — was involved in burning a police vehicle during demonstrations outside City Hall on May 30 in reaction to the police killing of George Floyd.

But the document does not indicate whether prosecutors believe Smith, 29, actually set the blaze or assisted those who did or whether they have evidence to suggest he was working in coordination with the other two men charged — Carlos Matchett and Khalif Miller — or any wider group.

All three face charges arson charges that carry a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence upon conviction. They have also been charged with obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder — under a rarely used before this year civil disorder statute that was enacted during the Nixon administration’s efforts to crack down on anti-war and Black Power movements in the late 1960s. They remain in custody pending court appearances later this week.

The .pdf file of the indictment is here.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, who we have previously noted has clashed with Mr Krasner before, released the indictment by grand jury. The Usual Suspects complained about the timing, just a few days prior to the presidential election, and during the Mostly Peaceful Protests™ over the killing of Walter Wallace, Jr, by two Philadelphia police officers as he approached them with a knife that he refused to drop.

Smith’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, balked at what he described as “the blatant political nature of this prosecution,” noting that his client was arrested less than a week before Election Day for crimes that allegedly occurred five months ago.

“Utilizing the awesome power of the federal government to target activists and select them for federal prosecution during one of the most important social justice movements in our history sends a dangerous message,” he said. “The prosecution of my client, Anthony Smith, a respected teacher and political activist, is part of a broader effort by this administration to criminalize and quell dissent expressed by progressive political movements.”

If Mr Smith truly was involved in the arson of a Philadelphia Police Department vehicle, then he is not only not a “respected teacher,” but is not a person who should be teaching young people at all. What, I have to ask, is Mr Smith teaching his students?

There was a scene on the television series Blue Bloods, in which a leftist teacher was causing problems for Nikki Reagan-Boyle. The fictional student and her mother met with the fictional teacher in the fictional Catholic high school, and there was a picture of Che Guevara on the wall. I laughed at the obvious political message of the program, that one would ever suppose that a parochial school would allow a teacher to have Señor Guevara’s photo displayed, but it does make me wonder what some public school teachers, whose unions are essentially Democratic Party operatives, are teaching their students.

Mr Hetznecker was appalled that the indictment was for crimes that allegedly occurred five months ago? The indictment was brought via a grand jury, something that takes time. Mr McSwain could not move before the indictment was delivered.

Does it send to Philadelphia voters the message that President Trump will try to protect people from lawlessness? I very much hope so!

Since May when Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked demonstrations across the country, Attorney General William Barr has urged U.S. attorneys to pursue cases against “violent rioters” using specific charges like the ones deployed against Smith, Matchett and Miller on Thursday.

Nationwide, federal prosecutors have lodged more than 300 felony cases against defendants espousing both progressive and right-wing ideologies connected to the demonstrations, with 20 of them in Pennsylvania, according to research by The Prosecution Project, which has tracked protest-related arrests.

Note the media bias in that paragraph. “(B)oth progressive and right-wing ideologies” would not be politically loaded had it been formulated “both left-wing and right-wing ideologies” or “both progressive and conservative ideologies,” but the way the Inquirer phrased it, bias is indicated.

Of course, if the Justice Department is pursuing cases against both left and right in riot cases, that isn’t bias, other than the structural bias that conservatives are much more likely to do something really radical, and not riot.

In June, FBI agents arrested Germantown massage therapist Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, alleging she set fire to two police cars parked outside City Hall during the same demonstration during which Smith, Matchett and Miller are accused of committing crimes.

It’s good that they nailed Miss Blumenthal early on; it’s unfortunate that the cases against Messrs Smith, Matchett and Miller took as long as they did, but, if they are guilty, it will be good to see justice eventually being done.
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