BLM protestors achieve substantial victory over law enforcement

Once again, the city has agreed to a problematic court settlement that will make New York’s governance more challenging. This particular settlement puts new restrictions on law enforcement officers: the NYPD is now prohibited from “kettling” unruly crowds of protesters. It was already disheartening when City Hall agreed to pay $13 million to Black Lives Matter protesters – that’s nearly $10,000 per individual involved in the riots, looting, arson, and violence that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in 2020. This settlement, stemming from the same protests, puts an end to the crowd-control tactic employed by the police in which they corral groups of unruly demonstrators before taking action against individual members of the crowd. Mayor Eric Adams states that this decision will ensure the protection of public safety while respecting the First Amendment rights of protesters. However, it’s puzzling considering that these 2020 protests (and some the following year) regularly defied COVID curfew restrictions, often escalating into full-blown riots with incidents of looting and arson. On numerous occasions, “protesters” even attacked officers, throwing Molotov cocktails at police vehicles. Night after night, the city witnessed intense street battles, with out-of-town anarchists and radicals flooding in, hoping to ignite a revolution, and criminal gangs exploiting the chaos. In July 2020, provocateurs distributed bats to thugs associated with the Occupy City Hall movement ahead of a supposed “community and clergy march” against gun violence in support of the NYPD. On MLK Jr. Day in January 2021, “peaceful protesters” injured 11 police officers, including a captain who was hit on the head with a bottle. The truth is, employing the option to kettle an out-of-control crowd actually allows for more freedom of protest. During the Republican convention in 2004, demonstrators were able to approach the entrances of Madison Square Garden. In contrast, Boston’s response to the Democratic convention that same year involved cordoning off a quarter of the city, creating a massive “frozen zone” that restricted public access. Which approach better “respects protesters’ First Amendment rights”? This settlement adds to the previous deals struck by former Mayor Bill de Blasio that restrict or outright prevent valuable crime-fighting tactics, such as “vertical patrols” in public-housing projects and stop-and-frisks of individuals who raise an officer’s suspicions. It’s not just the NYPD that becomes limited by these settlements; another example is the creation of the absurd “right to shelter,” which now forces the city to spend billions on housing illegal migrants. Elected officials aren’t the sole contributors to the city’s increasing dysfunction; court agreements like this one also play a part, ending one minor headache in the present but almost certainly causing future mayors and innocent civilians to suffer due to the loss of a vital tool in preventing protests from escalating into riots.

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