Put a lid on violence before it escalates

It is highly unlikely that white supremacists or, for that matter, other extremists from anywhere else in the ideological spectrum would choose our area for a demonstration of the sort that has occurred in several other cities. For one thing, there is no pretext for the hate-mongers to come here.

Nevertheless, some bigots have vowed in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., to stage similar rallies elsewhere. “We are going to start doing this non-stop. Across the country,” proclaimed one neo-Nazi website.

When extremist groups decide to rally, both residents in that area and law enforcement agencies should be ready for them.

For civilians, the meaning of being ready is clear: Strict non-violence, even in the face of provocation, is imperative.

For law enforcement officials and personnel, a different attitude is required.

Police in some cities where extremists have gathered seem to have adopted a hands-off approach. Video of many a “demonstration” shows people throwing rocks or firebombs, attempting to harm others and frequently destroying property while police watch. Apparently some law enforcement leaders — quite possibly on orders from municipal officials — feel that is the correct approach.

It is not. Allowing violence of any kind merely encourages the perpetrators to continue their rampages. That puts more people, not fewer, at risk.

Putting a law enforcement lid on violence before it escalates and expands is no infringement upon First Amendment rights. If anything, it safeguards the rights of law-abiding citizens of all races, colors, creeds and national origins to be safe on our own streets.

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