By Steve Pomper
The legacy media didn’t give the “Million MAGA Rally,” held on Saturday, November 14th, 2020, fair coverage, or, for some, any coverage. But it’s already important to revisit some disturbing incidents that occurred at the event because it called police responses into question. And, people need to remember that police department responses reflect their political leadership.
As cops, cowardly attacks on unsuspecting people enrage us. There’s something especially sinister about such spineless behavior: blindside attacks, multiple assailants, using weapons against the unarmed, etc. Law Enforcement Today reported some people, including journalists and an attorney, have charged they were less than happy with the response of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (DCMPD), during the harassment and assaults perpetrated against Trump supporters as they left the MAGA rally.
Inclined toward giving cops the benefit of the doubt, I bristle when officers are accused of inaction or wrong action, so I wanted more information. I contacted the DCMPD public information office for some perspective and context. The PIO referred me to a press conference (skip ahead to 50 min. mark). When asked by reporters about the incidents involving weapons, the D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham listed:
- There were eight incidents involving firearms and one involving a knife.
- Seven were handguns and one he described as a “unique” gun, a cross between a pistol and a rifle.
- Three arrests were for open carry.
- One gun was found on a person in a car.
- One gun was recovered following an assault arrest.
Concerning open carry arrests: The DCMPD’s regulations “General Requirements for Firearms Registration” lists restrictions for open carry in the city. Section IV: Carrying Firearms states, “In general, you must be licensed to carry a firearm in the District concealed, while open carry is prohibited. However, there are exceptions for legally registered firearms.”
The exceptions for legal registrants are, while at “home,” for “recreational purposes,” at a “place of business,” and in a car while “transporting for legal purposes.” Chief Newsham did not elaborate on the details of any of these arrests. It seems the city that houses the supposed guardians of our constitutional rights abridges the Second Amendment with the best of ‘em.
Reporters also asked Chief Newsham about a stabbing incident. He told reporters a victim (Trump supporter) suffered several stab wounds to the back. The suspect remains unknown and at large with detectives investigating, searching for any nearby security camera video. The chief described witnesses as “uncooperative,” which surprises not a single cop. The victim was transported to the hospital in serious condition.
When asked if the department was prepared for the size of the crowd, the chief answered, “We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” He added that they’re always prepared, and he believes his officers performed extremely well.
Then Chief Newsham said something important that doesn’t get mentioned enough about mass gatherings. He told reporters crowd size is not important; it’s the people’s behavior that matters. True. This year we’ve seen plenty of examples of crowds of only hundreds or less behaving extremely violently. On the contrary, as with the MAGA rally, there have also been massive but truly peaceful crowds. The difference between the destructive Occupy Wall Street vs. the peaceful Tea Party demonstrations, about ten years ago, also provide an excellent example of Chief Newsham’s point.
In two viral video incidents recorded at the MAGA rally, one alleged suspect appears to be involved in both. In one instance, a man is seen approaching the victim from behind and sucker punching him in the head. The victim drops like a sandbag to the pavement. A young woman in yellow pants, and another unidentified person, kick the man while he is lying in the street. Another woman swoops in and steals the helpless victim’s cellphone.
Next, apparently, the same woman in the yellow pants is seen on video running up behind a woman who is walking, and the suspect punches her in the back of the head. Chief Newsham told the reporters detectives were investigating the assaults.
Watching the video shows the attack’s seriousness. The victim is obviously dazed, as blood streams down his face. Curiously, about the attacks, the chief commented to reporters the alleged assailants may have been provoked.
To provide a better context, a lot of video was taken of criminals, ostensibly they were counter-protesters, ambushing Trump supporters. Trump supporters were frequently hit with thrown objects, including fireworks, pushed, punched, and kicked—some even while walking with their kids some of whom were in strollers. The radicals were also bashing Trump supporters with clubs and sticks.
The man described above, whom a suspect had knocked unconscious, had been walking while militants repeatedly harassed, pushed, and assaulted him from behind. Apparently, frustrated and angry, he turned to confront his attackers and began fighting back. Was this action to what the chief referred when he said the attackers may have been “provoked?” I don’t know. It was during this portion of events that the suspect sucker-punched the Trump supporter.
Chief Newsham was also asked about response protocols during demonstrations. He told reporters the police have to balance whether or not deploying cops might exacerbate the violence. He said, “If it’s a large crowd, and it’s dangerous, the police are unlikely to go in there, which can make the situation worse. If it’s a few people, we may go up there and try to correct the behavior.” The chief concluded it’s a tough call best left to “officials on the scene.”
Still, the police response buck stops on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk. My fellow officers and I know. Reportedly, the mayor has been virtually silent about the anti-Trump violence. During my career, officers were frustrated several times when city leaders “held cops back” (a block or two, out of sight, while violent criminals attacked peaceful citizens.
During one of these events, rioters murdered a young man who was attempting to assist a young woman being beaten by the mob. The orders not to intervene came from mayors and were carried out by police administrations who ignored their responsibilities to the people. This also has the reprehensible effect of falsely making the cops appear ineffectual or even unwilling to help victims. Is this what happened in D.C.? We don’t know.
However, Republicans in the House have called for congressional hearings into the city’s response to the violence against President Trump’s supporters. The Oversight Committee Republican’s hearing request stated, “The failure of the city’s leaders to afford basic protections to persons who may hold different political viewpoints from their own appears to be another concerning example of viewpoint discrimination in the District.”
This multi-tiered system of “justice” cannot continue in America. This apparent anemic response seems a violation of both the spirit and letter of constitutional law. The 14th Amendment clearly states all Americans enjoy “equal protection of the laws.” Perhaps, Mayor Bowser needs to be reminded this includes police protection from violent criminals during a major political rally in our nation’s capital.