Are there good riots and bad riots?

This won’t take long.

There’s no denying that American justice is not dispensed equally — or justly — among Americans, especially when it comes to sentencing.

Police cars burn as some people got carried away, said a judge. (Photo: Billy Penn)

The rich fare better than the poor. Women are treated more leniantly than men. Blacks are treated more harshly than whites.

Generally speaking. This is well documented.

Less so are the sensibilities of judges. 

First, I state my bias. I support law and order, and by that I mean laws that are fair and evenly enforced.

It’s no surprise they are not.

The Wednesday Inquirer front-paged a story reporting that the sentences requested by federal prosecutors for the local George Floyd rioters were cut so drastically by judges it seemed like a GM Red Tag sale. 

When then-U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain brought federal arson charges against those who had set fire to police cars during the riots, he wanted them sent away for as much as seven years.

But the sentencing, the Inquirer reported, “resulted in significantly lighter punishment.” None of them got anywhere near seven years.

The Inquirer  focused on remarks made by Judge Joel M. Slomsky, appointed to the federal bench in 2008 by President George W. Bush.

“Nobody’s saying that this was not a serious offense,” Slomsky said as he sentenced the last of the defendants — Marquise Williams, 29, of Philadelphia — to 14 months behind bars, the Inquirer reported.

“The events that happened that day were tragic in many, many ways — beginning with the death of George Floyd,” Slomsky added. “Mr. Williams, like many, got caught up in the emotion of that day.”

He concluded that the defendants’ behavior during the riot was in most cases an anomaly stoked by communal outrage over Floyd’s death. Slomsky sounded more like a defense attorney than a judge.

“In looking at this situation, I really come away thinking we won’t see her again in a criminal courtroom,” said U.S. District Judge Barclay Surrick as he sentenced a 37-year-old massage therapist who firebombed a police car, one of two destroyed. (Philly police cars cost $60,000 each, $120,000 for the two.) “I think she’s learned her lesson,” the Inquirer reported.

Now — couldn’t those same remarks be applied to most of the Jan. 6 rioters at the Capitol?

Each riot was an attack on an institution of society — the police, government. The attack on the Capitol was more severe, no doubt, but couldn’t what the federal judges said about the Philly rioters be applied to the D.C. rioters, who — in the main — got very harsh sentences? Would Judge Slomsky have been as magnanimous if the Social Justice Warriors had done $120,000 worth of damage in his courtroom?

No remarks about the communal outrage they felt about a (not) stolen election, the emotion of the day, and, really, how many of them would be in court again?

Mostly they were ordinary citizens, bedazzled by the lies of their leader, swept up in the moment to commit crimes of trespass, breaking and entering, and even assault on police.

Don’t get me wrong. I have little sympathy for them. The same for the Philly rioters. Grievances do not write a permission slip for violence.

I am merely drawing your attention to a vast disparity of sentencing between a riot that judges seemed to forgive, George Floyd, and one they won’t, Jan. 6. Is that even-handed justice?

10 thoughts on “Are there good riots and bad riots?”

  1. The hatred for Donald Trump by the so-called ‘justice department’ got those capitol rioters their sentences. I used to think there could be no greater hatred for a politician than I saw directed at Richard Nixon; then along came Donald Trump. Justice is not only blind, but deaf and dumb as well.

    1. Are you overlooking the hatred of Barack Obama, and from a certain party who hired detectives (supposedly) to find out where he was “Really” born? What kind of a hater would do something like that? 😃

      1. Stu, you cannot compare the incessant hatred that has been directed at DT day after day — at his business dealings, his politics, his marriage, etc. to the initially legitimate questions about Barry Soweto’s birthplace.

        I know you cannot stand DT, and I can’t stand his big mouth either, but the piling on from the night he was elected to this very day is beyond anything I’ve ever seen — even (as I said) when Nixon what alive.

        1. The difference is, with Trump, there WAS a “there” there, for some of it.
          And it wasn’t just DJT that was on Obama.
          But, by any measure, Trump was drowned in negative press, more than Obama, or Bush, or Clinton.

        2. Trump is a media politician. The media coverage got him elected in 2016 and nearly got him reelected in 2020. It also may get him elected in 2024. He takes every bit of negative coverage and uses it to bolster his standing. Of course he does the same with positive coverage. He is a man who doesn’t know the meaning of shame and neither do his supporters. How the hell do you support a convicted rapist for the office of President of the United States. His bragging of grabbing women’s genitalia is so damned offensive, he should be shunned by every decent human being. Here we have Putin’s syncophant. and Orban’s and Erdogan’s. And yet…

          Despite what he said, Nixon was a crook (as was Agnew) and got the coverage his actions deserved. He at least had the decency to leave office and not run again.

    2. The orange-skinned POS and Richard “Watergate” Nixon…t̶w̶o̶ ̶p̶e̶a̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶o̶d̶.̶ More accurately two turds in a toilet.

  2. No there are not good riots. There are good protests where law abiding citizens protest their displeasure with a specific topic or issues. Protests that are peaceful and law abiding and express points of view peacefully are good. The disparities in punishments is based on the Federal Judge’s assessment of the crimes committed. Empathy and sentencing guidelines are also major factors in sentencing. Mandatory sentencing sometimes takes the judge’s opinion out of the process. The best way to protest political decisions you disagree with is to vote.

  3. How many riots are incited, fanned and fueled by incorrect reporting, repeatedly by our main media newspapers, reporters and main TV networks? On every issue?

    Please comment on the revelations regarding the George Floyd trial in the video, “The Fall of Minneapolis.” Has everyone watched it?

    According to the video, the judge withheld vital evident such as the coroner’s report which said, in writing, Floyd died of his own mix of illegal drugs, not from any damage to his windpipe, ( his windpipe was in normal condition, not crushed as reported ) as was claimed in the trial and in all the newspapers.. Police body cams from other angles, suppressed by the judge but seen in this video, show that Officer Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s shoulder blade which was explained in detail in the video as the practiced and approved police procedure shown in the police manual. Also, shown in the video was the Chief of Police, a black man, under oath swearing/lying/perjuring that the knee on the shoulder was not police procedure, in spite of the video showing the manual’s diagrams of the procedure and showing various police in training doing the same approved procedure to hold down a resisting subject. Suppressed by the judge. And it goes on and on…

    So many more revelations of that corrupted trial on this video.
    Everyone in the country needs to see “The Fall of Minneapolis” video.

    Who can one believe?
    The independent year long research and the evidence as presented in the video appear to be extremely credible. Yes, I said “appear” since I do not know.

    What do you all think?

    To answer the question, good or bad riot?

    If this, “Fall of …” video is credible, the 25 or so citizens murdered, the numbers who were shot, the arson, the fear and terror all over the nation from the reactive uncontrollable mobs in every city and the several billion dollars of public and private property destruction, all due to false information, false reporting, and a thoroughly corrupted trial were bad riots! Very bad riots.

    Please watch “The Fall of Minneapolis.”

  4. “The Fall of Minneapolis” was produced by Alpha News, an organization that has a history of low-quality journalism that is often inaccurate, biased and misleading. The production values are horrible. It’s Orwellian nonsense.

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