Flanked by the mayors of Dallas and Fort Worth at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott reiterated that “violence and vandalism is never the answer, and they have no place in Dallas, Fort Worth, or anywhere in the state of Texas.”
The press conference was in response to continued violent riots—not only in the DFW metroplex but in other large Texas cities—as part of the response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman. Since the incident, rampant looting and violence have plagued cities across the nation.
“It is essential that we end the violence, the vandalism, and the looting that we’ve seen,” Abbott added.
But can our elected leaders be trusted to put an end to the violent protests that have occurred daily and nightly since last week?
Actions will do more to solve the crisis than words. Thus far, Abbott has taken measured action to quell the violence.
Over the weekend, he declared a state of disaster for all 254 Texas counties in the wake of violent protests in major cities across the state. This order effectively gave him the ability to designate federal agents as Texas peace officers.
Additionally, Abbott activated the National Guard in order to safeguard Texans’ property from destruction and deployed a surge of DPS officers to hot zones, including the Texas Capitol.
And as the rioting continued on Monday, Abbott and four U.S. attorneys in Texas announced that out-of-state individuals who come to Texas to “engage in looting, violence, or other destructive acts in violation of federal law” will face federal prosecution.
Abbott’s announcement came on the heels of a brief press conference from the White House Rose Garden on Monday evening, in which President Donald Trump strongly condemned the growing violence.
“America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos,” Trump said.
The president said he had “strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers we dominate the streets,” adding that “mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.”
If they don’t, Trump warned he would send in the U.S. military to safeguard communities and restore order himself.
For Texas’ part, Abbott says he does not believe that will be necessary “because we know that Texans can take care of Texans.”
But for all the talking and planning, not a night has passed since the protests began that cities haven’t experienced violence against citizens or vandalism and theft against store owners.
In Houston, Austin, Dallas, and other cities, Texas streets have literally been on fire.
Fox News host and national conservative personality Tucker Carlson dedicated much of his program Monday night to a monologue in which he called out inaction from politicians in the wake of the rioting.
“This is a national emergency. It’s a profound national emergency. But you would never know that from listening to our elected leaders,” said Carlson. “Almost all of them pretend this is not really happening, or if it is happening, it is just part of America’s long tradition of vigorous political discourse.”
Julie McCarty, the CEO of True Texas Project, a conservative organization based in DFW, told Texas Scorecard that Abbott and Trump need to use “every resource at their disposal to restore order.”
“If DPS and National Guard are enough, great. But we don’t have the luxury of taking a wait-and-see approach when properties are being destroyed and people are being injured,” she said. “What else can be done simultaneously? Does a strong arm need to be used to scare others into thinking twice before looting? Cameras, task forces, what else?
“Put a firm and swift end to this so America can make 2020 a year of rebuilding instead of a year of destruction,” she added.
Fred McCarty, co-founder and board member of the organization, agreed.
“Elected Democrats across the country have not been eager to restore law and order because their voting base includes both the rioters and supporters of the rioters. Even at the cost of life and property, they will let this destruction continue to appease a mob that can never be appeased,” he said.
“So thank God we have a Republican president and governor. They can at least be moved into action, even if it is tepid and slow.”
Texans—and all Americans—are right to question their elected officials, especially in the light of government-mandated policies in response to the Chinese coronavirus that have shuttered businesses and hurt the economic stability of the citizens they represent.
And as the state and federal government continues to escalate their response to these violent riots, citizens will also measure their success not on simple words, but meaningful outcomes.