Racism is a cancer that can divide and destroy a country. We must not tolerate it. Also, we need to remember that there are groups both far right and far left that use racism as a political tool to turn us against each other. We must be wise enough to understand when this is happening and reject their evil intentions.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is a horrible piece of human garbage who deserves a punishment much worse than our law will allow. I put him in the category of those who hurt and kill little children. Anger and revulsion overwhelmed me as I watched him methodically torture and kill George Floyd. His vile deed played out in graphic detail on video and shocked the conscience of our nation. Everyone saw it with their own eyes and understood that there really is evil in this world. His wicked act has sparked numerous protests and an avalanche of anger and violence in our country.

While many of the protests have been peaceful, there has been looting, violence and chaos in numerous U.S. cities. Roving bands of thugs made up of Antifa, anarchists, criminals and criminal organizations have hijacked the protests. They are instigating the violence. Kurtis Robinson, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, declared that these fringe groups have been bused in to participate in the riots. Officials have found solid evidence of organized criminal activity among the rioters, such as bricks and rocks placed at strategic locations for planned attacks on police or for vandalism and looting.

President Donald Trump was right when he said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Policemen and citizens have been shot in several cities. Almost 800 police officers have been injured in the chaos. People have been beaten and killed. And a police station was burned. Hundreds of businesses have been destroyed, many of which are owned by African Americans or that employ African Americans.

History shows that many of these businesses will never reopen and it takes decades for these areas to rebuild.

I would like someone to explain to me how all this destruction helps the plight of poor blacks who live in these areas, and work and shop at these stores. How does it help prevent police brutality against blacks? It doesn’t.

The gangs of thugs are just using the racial unrest and protests to justify and get away with what they are doing. The horrific death of George Floyd means nothing to them. They are dishonoring the legacy of their great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who won his major victories in civil rights with peaceful demonstrations.

Black leaders in some of the cities have called for the rioting and destruction to halt, to no avail. The family of George Floyd has spoken out strongly against the violence, also to no avail. Their voices have been drowned out in the uproar.

Many of the city mayors were too gutless or incompetent to stop the carnage. In some of the cities, the police were restrained and told to stand down while the criminals looted and destroyed.

Is it a coincidence that the same cities that had the worst problems with the COVID-19 pandemic are also having the worst violence and destruction from the riots? Their leadership is still incompetent, and they have no plans on how to deal with the carnage.

If ever there was a time that justified our Second Amendment, this is it. The primary purpose of government is to protect the rights and property of its law-abiding citizens, and they’re not doing it. It is also no coincidence that the cities with the toughest restrictions on gun ownership are having the most destruction.

A survey taken a few days after the murder of George Floyd showed that 96 percent of Americans were now convinced that there is an issue with how some police treat blacks. The African American community had won the day. A few peaceful protests and there would have been serious bipartisan action by lawmakers to study and address the problem. The violent riots have since destroyed much of that goodwill. The sad thing about this situation is that the good, level-headed black leaders understood this, but could do little to stop it.

There are almost 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States that employ more than 1.1 million law enforcement officers. No matter how careful they are and how hard they try, there will always be another Derek Chauvin. We must deal with abuse issues and any racial issues on an individual basis and stop indicting all police for the actions of one or a few officers.

Law enforcement is the thin blue line that stands between a civil society and chaos and anarchy. We must condemn our law enforcement officers when they are wrong, but we must strongly support them when they are right.

The organized groups that are causing the violence are reminiscent of the Brown Shirts that terrorized Germany during the 1930s before World War II. They are doing severe damage to our country. Trump was right to label them as terrorist groups. They must be taken seriously and destroyed.

Many of the protests have been peaceful. Peaceful protest is good. It is enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution as a vital part of our civil rights as Americans. We should use this right when we feel it necessary to correct a wrong. But in no way should it be used to justify the violence and destruction that we have witnessed this last month.

Dugger retired as a journeyman carpenter from Clearwater Paper. He lives in Lewiston.

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