Today’s entry: Brian, you hit the nail on the head when you said the Minneapolis Mayor’s non-response to the mobs set the stage for violence across the country. My question is why it’s allowed to happen? Who couldn’t see this coming across the country after the looters got away with what they got away with? It’s as sad as it is outrageous to see violence breaking out in cities across the country and it’s frightening when it’s happening right here in South Florida!
Bottom Line: You’re right to wonder and to be worried. I certainly am. First, let’s talk about the view of the possible. The good news is that most of us wouldn’t harm others given the opportunity. This includes carrying out violence, vandalism, and robbing businesses. The problem is that, as we’ve seen over the past week, it doesn’t take many in a group to create significant harm and destruction to communities. To understand how many in society might be willing to engage in bad behavior if they perceive an opportunity, I’ll use data from the most comprehensive study conducted in the United States on felony behavior. The study: The Growth, Scope, and Spatial Distribution of People With Felony Records in the United States covered 62 years and found that 3% of all adults commit felonies.
Now, this is based on official incarceration records/successful felony convictions – so it’s possible (probably likely) that the number is higher but it’s instructive regardless. At any given time around 3% of the population has it in them to commit atrocities given the chance. The lack of an effective response in Minneapolis absolutely showed the view of the possible to many bad actors. In a country of 328 million people, there are nearly 10 million who have or will commit felonies among us. That’s a big number. In Florida, that’s 660,000 people. The question is will local officials do what’s right and needed to protect us or will they allow the criminal element to seize control and do what they did looting and destroying businesses like what they did in Tampa over the weekend? In fact, we saw the difference between the most effective response in Miami compared to greater failure in Tampa. In Miami, as soon a criminal activity began – dozens of arrests were made and a curfew was put in place. In Tampa, the lack of response allowed numerous businesses to be looted and burned to the ground. It became so out of hand that even an apartment complex was set on fire. This comes back to local leadership. 64 of the 100 largest cities have Democrats as mayors. Florida somewhat bucks this trend with both Jacksonville and Miami having Republican mayors. We’ve seen vast differences in response-based leadership across the country. Make no mistake, the reason many cities have been looted and damaged is due to who is in charge.
While crime is often an election topic, rarely are these types of situations considered. It’s during times of maximum adversity, Coronavirus and anti-police demonstrations, for example, that you get to see what your local government is really made of. Police are trained to run to emergencies, not allow them to happen. Ditto firefighters. There is never an excuse to allow and watch communities to be destroyed as we’ve seen. In addition to enhanced civic engagement and voter turnout, this also reinforces the importance of self-protection. If you live in a city where the mayor sides with criminal behavior over the protection of property and community, you’re the only line of defense for you, your family, and your property. What we’re living through right now is full of teachable moments.
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