A case unfolding in Kingman holds a clue to the violent protests shocking and troubling Americans. Matthew Wright, a 32-year-old follower of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory, is charged with a list of crimes after he was arrested in a van blocking a road near Hoover Dam and carrying weapons and ammunition. He had worked out a plea arrangement that would have had him serve less than 10 years in prison, but a court commissioner in Mohave County said it was too lenient and rejected it.
Meanwhile, American cities have erupted with riots that started when a black man died in police custody in Minneapolis, and video led to charges. Pretty much everyone is saying George Floyd’s death never should have happened, and one of the police officers involved has been charged with murder. He previously had been disciplined for pulling a woman from a car, had shot multiple people and been the subject of 17 internal affairs investigations for which little information is available.
Americans are outraged, especially those who lived through the civil rights era more than half a century ago. Yes, police brutality still exists and is more readily seen in these days of phone cameras, but it is not common. It is obvious that the relatively small number of bad cops have too many protections against being fired. In fact, Minneapolis and most other large cities are run mostly by Democrats, and public employee unions often have too much power. It is quite likely that Derek Chauvin should have been fired a long time ago.
Meanwhile, the militant antifa movement waits for opportunities to infiltrate protests, destroy things and work for anarchy. Restoring order is a challenge for law enforcement agencies, and some mistakes clearly were made when the police presence and help from the National Guard was lacking at the beginning. Some arrests of antifa rioters certainly would help, in the present situation and for the future. Peaceful protests are quite welcome, however, and they have been occurring in Casa Grande and Maricopa this week.
Some have said that Matthew Wright was ill-informed and really doesn’t deserve the prosecution he is getting. But there are plenty of laws on the books to deal with violent disorder, and anyone engaging in it, no matter their political leanings, should not be loose in society for a long time.