Mob Justice Threatens Rule of Law

In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there has been an array of peaceful protests, violent rioting and devastating looting. But the worst thing to come out of the anger and vitriol may be the demand for a “prosecutorial reckoning” for the accused.

In a Newsmax commentary, Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper warns that “this impulse to demand a prosecution is dangerous.”

A direct challenge to the rule of law upon which the United States was founded, this mob demand for a rush to judgment makes too many assumptions:

It falsely assumes that without people standing in the streets, prosecutors won’t carry out their responsibilities. It also assumes that prosecutors are aided in their assessment of lawbreaking by protests. Finally, it risks contravening the proper operation of our criminal justice system and could result in Officer Derek Chauvin’s acquittal.

Here’s the truth: in a rule of law regime, a prosecution should never be undertaken at the behest of the crowd. It should be solely based on the alleged facts — and the law.

Pressuring prosecutors, judges or juries won’t result in justice.

Instead it puts the rest of us at risk.

Once we allow prosecutions to be based on pressure campaigns, today’s popular protest member can easily become a prosecution target tomorrow.

For those who might scoff at Horace’s assertion, he cites examples in which “[h]istory reveals that crowd intervention in criminal cases is replete with destruction for blacks.”

These cases included the media-driven hysterics that led to violent and deadly race riots between 1898 and 1921 in cities such as Tulsa, Atlanta, East St. Louis and Wilmington.

Mob justice in these instances economically and emotionally devastated black communities and perpetuated unfairness and inequality that still affects America today. And this new round of riots – on a much broader scale – could end up being even worse for black prosperity and social mobility that had been on the rise before the rioting.

Noting that “[a]ll Americans – minorities especially – benefit from the dispassionate effort by prosecutors to carry out their cases,” Horace points out the hypocrisy of the left and the rationale of the rule of law:

It’s truly ironic that with the atrocious history of mob intervention in criminal cases that blacks have been so prominent in trying to affect Officer Chauvin’s case.

Yes, George Floyd deserves justice, but the way to guarantee him justice is to guarantee it for all Americans – free from pressure and coercion.

To read Horace’s Newsmax commentary – “Mob Justice Gaining on Rule of Law Means Minorities Lose” – in its entirety, click here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.