Why do we permit/accept vandalism?

The predictable, seemingly annual, riots by LA Lakers “fans” and G-20 demonstrators and now the trashing downtown Oakland seem to have become acceptable to local governments. Everyone knows when/where they will occur and police are positioned in advance, but why do the police allow it to happen?

Why doesn’t some government agency say in advance “you are free to demonstrate, but if you destroy someone else’s property, we’ll break your head.”

You’re not suggesting we arrest people before they actually vandalize anything, are you?

The law breakers do get arrested after they destroy property, if they are caught.

Don’t they spray them with hoses or something?

People have a right to gather together, demonstrate, etc. provided that they’re not breaking any laws. Thus, law enforcement agencies have to wait until laws have been broken before they can break up a gathering. To start preventing a gathering based on the expectation of a crime, we’d have to overturn volumes of Constitutional reasoning.

You might also not understand how much work it takes to control a large crowd. Until we can afford to field one officer for every person in the crowd, we’ll be in a position of hoping they follow the law and picking up the pieces afterward.

They also can’t beat them up for vandalism unless they resist arrest.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of assembly

Except in Toronto at the G8, where the recent police actions seemed to be a comedy of errors. They yanked joggers off the street, a bunch of tourists, and a network courier delivering a DVD to the broadcast office; allegedly because they were “disturbing the peace”, but more likely for o valid reason.

My theory is they let people burn police cars and trash places the first day so they had a valid reason for whatever they did later.

The main reason is the theory people are ALWAYS more important than things. You can’t bust heads, because you can replace a broke TV, you can’t replace a broke person. Yes even if that person is breaking the law.

This concept is especially strong in African American communities.

So it’s much easier to let the rioters wear themselves down and let the insurance companies pay out than to try to stop it by busting heads.

And even after they’ve been arrested and restrained, shooting them in the back for good measure is the best option.

It doesn’t appear as though anyone is concerned about property owners, which in many cases are the taxpayers.

No one is concerned? Hundreds of police officers in each city are deployed, at taxpayer expense and overtime rates, to protect public and corporate property, and arrest vandals.

And what exactly - and I do mean exactly - are the authorities to do to protect the property owners?

Please try to contribute something that hasn’t been thoroughly covered by others.

The authorities are to do nothing until the mob actually starts breaking laws (and maybe windows). Sometimes at that point the authorities are outnumbered and they can’t prevent property damage. Sad, unfair, but -

The property owners should have insurance to cover things like this. Still - not necessarily perfectly fair or just but -

The right of people to demonstrate outweighs the desire of property owners to have perfect protection. As well as it outweighs any right the police or army might want that would allow them to preemptively arrest citizens that have not (yet?) committed any crime.

I suspect that a man running toward a Starbucks window wielding a sledgehammer could indeed be detained and potentially arrested before breaking the window, much as might happen if he were running toward a kindergarten class with an axe.

I meant arrest people for vandalism. You could always arrest people for breaking other laws before they vandalize anything, such as attempted vandalism or attempted murder.

Because it’s hard.

It’s very easy to say “They should arrest the vandals” but in practice it’s exceptionally difficult. You’re facing three major problems:

  1. The police’s priority is on peace and quiet and public safety. The Toronto police, especially, were very intent on avoiding hurting anyone, and for all the pissing and moaning and bullshit accusations it’s worth noting they managed the entire weekend and not one single person was seriously hurt. THAT was their #1 objective, and they succeeded. Anyone who thinks the Toronto police did a bad job is simply ignorant; they accomplished precisely what they set out to do and that priority was perfectly aligned with what the public most needs; their own lives and health.

If you go in trying to arrest the vandals every chance you get, someone will likely get hurt. Furthermore, for all that people talk about how the cops should distinguish between the rioters and the peaceful protesters, the history of every single one of these G20 things shows that the protesters will not themselves recognize this distinction. Had the cops at G20 charged in to grab the window-breakers is is virtually certain, evidenced by every one of these things that has ever happened, that at least a significant portion of the peaceful protesters - not all of them, but a lot of them - would have turned on the cops.

Note that this is pretty well established police procedure in Toronto. Last year the Gardiner Expressway - one of two major freeways leading into downtown - was blocked by a huge demonstration of Tamils protesting their side losing the civil war in Sri Lanka. Why the Tamils thought inconveniencing Torontonians would help their cause I cannot understand, nor could anyone else in Toronto; they probably created more anti-Tamil sentiment than had ever before existed in the history of Toronto. But the police refused to force them off, because they assessed the situation and were afraid someone would get hurt. (The Expressway is an elevated freeway and I believe their main concern was starting a panic and having people fall off.) Again, they were successful; nobody got hurt. You can replace windows and things. You can’t replace people.

  1. Coordinating a few thousand cops is exceptionally hard. You have no idea, really; it’s amazingly, incredibly hard to get coordinated action. The people who complained about “well, the cops could have arrested this guy here, and not been so mean to that guy there” have clearly not been part of any sort of law enforcement or military organization. The police were deployed under certain assumptions and with certain rules of engagement and those assumptions usually fall apart in about four minutes, leaving them sending confused messages up the chain of command, who then are desperately trying to sort out, from conflicting reports and jabber, what the hell is going on, and trying to get from their political masters what to do.

That’s why the Toronto police response on the Sunday of the conference was so much more thorough and coordinated and arrested a lot more people than on Saturday; they had decided on a course of action, whereas on Saturday their approach was to just avoid anyone getting hurt, because they weren’t really able to decide on a lot else.

  1. PR. Frankly, the days when the cops could spray hoses and release the hounds are over, at least here they are. I again must point out - and look, I am no blind cop apologist - that the Toronto police response was by far the most successful, measured, and calm police response ever to one of the anti-globalization protests, kept serious injuries to zero, didn’t arrest that many people as these things go, and prevented any really serious property damage, and people are STILL BITCHING ABOUT IT. It is almost one hundred percent certain that if you’d held the same conference in 25 other major cities at least 24 of them would have gone far worse. People are actually calling for a public inquiry, the results of which… well, I can’t even begin to imagine what the hell it is the inquiry would be called to do.

Now imagine the public storm if the police had sprayed people with water cannons or gotten all crazy with the batons and someone had, God forbid, died, or a bunch of people had been seriously hurt. It’d be a shitstorm, and to be honest I’d be pissed, too.

So why would the police want to do that to stop a few broken windows and graffiti?

I don’t permit/accept vandalism - I go scrub it off. :slight_smile:

Wait, so the fact that cities station large numbers of police at the sites of likely riots is evidence that they’re permitting the riots? I think the problem is in the logic there.

No, the police were not permitting the riots. Duh.

The police were there to make sure all participants had their riot permits visibly displayed.

It’s City Hall that issues riot permits; the permitting department is open M-F. There are all sorts of forms you need to fill out, but all the rules and regs are right there in the Riot Act.

Could your read that to me, please?