Governor's Desk

The duty of leaders to protect their people

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Today, the rule of law is under attack in America. In cities across the country, violent mobs are running rampant. They’re looting, rioting, and destroying property, businesses, and – in some cases – people’s dreams. Murder rates are up by double digits in 13 of our nation’s 15 largest cities. Many citizens are fleeing – what parent wants to raise their children in these violent situations?

For those of us in positions of leadership, it is our duty to respond and to protect our people. After all, violent, lawless mobs are emboldened when good men and women stand by and do nothing. Unfortunately, in too many places, that’s exactly what’s happening. In fact, some leaders have tried to walk with the mob, proudly “standing with them.” Unsurprisingly, the mob had no appetite for the political posturing and turned them away.

This past week, I denounced the violence in these cities. The Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, didn’t appreciate the spotlight it shown on her city. Durkan took to MSNBC to say that I’m “not only wrong,” but “purposefully wrong.” Though the rhetoric sounds nice, the facts dispute it. Seattle’s murder rate has increased 44% this year. Some of that increase is directly attributable to the Capitol Hill area of her downtown that became an “autonomous zone,” with barricades erected and signs stating, “You are now leaving the USA.” Durkan seems to have forgotten that rioters in this area (called both CHOP and CHAZ) terrorized residents, demanded tribute from business owners, and generated frequent shootings.

It is the duty of leaders like Durkan to protect their people from such violence. But instead of allowing her police department to do that, Durkan proposed slashing her police department’s budget and freezing new hires. Similar stories are playing out in cities nationwide. Leaders, afraid of backlash from the mob, turn their ire on the very law enforcement officers trying to keep us safe.

The media is making the problem worse. They repeatedly refer to violent rioters as “peaceful protesters,” giving cover to the mob. Earlier this week, as Kenosha burned on camera for all to see, CNN referred to the riots there as a “fiery but mostly peaceful protest.” Last night, one block from the White House, Senator Rand Paul was violently attacked by rioters – even having a bike thrown at him. He was protected by law enforcement, because – again, unsurprisingly – they continue to do their job.

It doesn’t have to be this way, especially not in the United States of America. To those tired of living in these cities, if you want a better home to raise your children, grow your business, and live your life in peace, I encourage you to come to South Dakota. Here, we respect freedom. We breathe fresh air. And we love our country.

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