Members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) condemned rioting and violence across cities in the United States in a press conference Wednesday where they also denounced the “defund the police” movement, and challenged attorney generals in other states to enforce the rule of law.
“Over the last 100 days, we have seen brutal acts of violent crime and arson across the country. The defund the police movement has emboldened criminals across the nation, and anyone who does not condemn this movement is helping to turn America into a lawless society,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also called into the press conference to communicate their frustration with Democratic attorneys general and elected officials for “sitting quietly by” while cities burned at the hands of rowdy rioters, looters, and arsonists undermining the nation’s peace.
“Both elected leaders and officials and citizens should be outraged and appalled by the lack of leadership in some of these cities across our nation where we are seeing destruction … Without mayors and other executive leaders and prosecutors willing to do their job and enforce our laws, along with police, the system will break down,” Moody said.
“We have seen the threads of our democracy, being ripped apart for violence, professional rioters tearing at the culture that makes America great,” Rutledge added.
The group of attorneys general pushed back on the narrative that these riots are “perfectly peaceful,” claiming that in order for them to ensure peoples’ first amendment rights, there must be clear enforcement of the rule of law.
“Protesters use words, rioters use violence. The first is protected by the First Amendment, and the other is outright lawlessness,” Carr said. “You have to respect the rule of law. There is no way that we can protect the First Amendment rights, the fundamental rights of peaceful protesters, if we’re also all being asked to look the other way, to turn a blind eye, or even worse, embrace when somebody is setting a police car on fire, or they’re beating a police officer over the head with a skateboard, or somebody businesses being looted.”
While the attorneys general all agreed that racial reconciliation is important and incidents like George Floyd shouldn’t happen, they argued that the rioting in the name of justice is no excuse to ignore the law.
“Nobody makes anybody do anything. We choose the actions that we’re going to take and it doesn’t matter where you get it, it is incumbent upon us to uphold the rule of law and be responsible for our own,” Carr said.
“I encourage our friends across the aisle to sit down and discuss these issues because now is the time for civil discourse. Now is not a time for civil unrest in our country. It is time that we all work together and love one another heart to heart, rather than fighting one another,” he added.
According to Rutledge, this widespread violence not only has moral and legal implications, but also political ones.
“I think that this particular issue, with regard to the rule of law versus ‘defund the police,’ can be one of the biggest factors in delivering reelection for Donald J. Trump,” said Rutledge. “Mamas want their children to grow up in safe neighborhoods. Yes, they want an empathetic president or an empathetic leader, but they also want a leader who will provide a safe and secure environment for their children to grow up in.”
The attorneys general pledged to continue bringing awareness and pushing for legal justice with other leaders and elected officials. RAGA also announced that it would continue to run a new advertisement drawing attention to these issues every week until the election.