DA charges violent protesters in Oklahoma City with 'terrorism,' 'rioting,' and 'assault'
The damage by Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, who withdrew police from his city's third precinct and allowed rioters free rein, extended across the nation. The message was clear: it was open season for violent thuggery as long as it was in the name of politically correct slogans like "black lives matter" and "antifascism." The toleration of CHAZ/CHOP in Seattle amplified the signal that there would be no legal consequences for lawlessness in the name of the correct causes.
A return to law and order, a situation in which people think twice before committing criminal acts while in mobs, will take longer, but it is finally underway. On the federal level, two New York City lawyers who allegedly aided a Molotov cocktail attack on police car face felony charges that could land them in prison for the rest of their lives. And now, on the local level, a district attorney is bringing grave felony charges against violent rioters.
"This is not Seattle," proclaimed Oklahoma County district attorney David Prater on Friday, adding, "We're not putting up with this lawlessness here" after pressing felony charges related to violent demonstrations there the last weekend in May. Nolan Clay writes in The Oklahoman:
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater made the decisions himself on the charges in a get-tough approach meant to deter others from going too far during protests in the future. (snip)
Charged in two terrorism cases was Isael Antonio Ortiz, 21, of Welch. He is accused of burning an Oklahoma County sheriff's van May 30 and attempting to burn a bail bonds business "along with a large crowd of other individuals."
Israel Ortiz mug shot (via The Oklahoman).
Predictably, the ACLU is outraged:
The ACLU of Oklahoma is accusing Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater of overcharging protesters to silence those speaking out against police brutality and racism.
The ACLU criticized the district attorney Saturday evening, one day after he charged three protesters with terrorism, four with rioting and one with assault and battery upon a police officer. The civil liberties organization called the felony charges excessive, politically based and upsetting.
Prater on Sunday defended the charges, saying, "When you act like a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist."
Charging people for violent acts does not silence protest; it only punishes violence. But there are other charges from Prater that do relate to speech itself:
Also charged Friday were five defendants identified as involved in the painting of murals in downtown Oklahoma City this week. They are accused in an incitement to riot charge of interfering with a police sergeant who was trying to take a homicide witness for an interview at police headquarters Tuesday.
In court affidavits filed with the charges, police claimed that several agitators during the May 30 protest stayed to the center to keep the crowd in an agitated state.
"Several people were carrying flags that were identified as belonging to the following groups: Antifa, Soviet Union (communism), American Indian Movement, Anarcho-Communism (solid red) and the original Oklahoma flag ... currently adopted by Oklahoma Socialists," police reported.
The court will determine if the incitement amounts to "shouting fire in a crowded theatre," the standard for speech prohibition offered by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case U.S. v. Schenk.
Prater is unmoved by the ACLU's argument:
"These criminals have subverted peaceful protests and impaired the open discussion regarding race in our country," he said. "These criminals are diabolic and strategic in their use of tactics historically employed by terrorists throughout the world; namely, targeting innocent citizens with violence and the threat of violence, intimidation, the dissemination of propaganda to disrupt societal and communal relationships and using peaceful protestors as human shields. When you employ these tactics for a political purpose, you are a terrorist."
Prater said he and others in law enforcement will not be intimidated from "protecting those we serve by aggressively enforcing and prosecuting the law."
"When you act like a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist. All innocent citizens of Oklahoma County deserve to be protected. The citizens of Oklahoma County have a legal and constitutional right to personal safety and the protection of their property. It is my job to protect innocent citizens and their property and I will continue to do it to the best of my ability," he said.
And he has the police union behind him:
Speaking out in support of the district attorney Sunday was John George, president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police.
"David's always been not afraid to do what he thinks is right," George said. "A lot of elected officials and city leaders have not shown support for their police departments across the country. It was nice to see DA Prater here do the right thing and file charges on people who needed to have charges filed on them."
With President Trump promising a federal law enforcement crackdown on attempt to vandalize monuments on federal property, extending to mobilizing the National Guard, and felony prosecutions for rioters who trigger federal law, and at least some localities beginning to charge rioters with crimes carrying severe penalties, some potential rioters may be deterred.
It will be a long road back to social order.