The riot that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia shocked the United States, overwhelmed social media, and temporarily at least drove the Korean Missile Crisis off the front page. Groups of Nazis, Klansmen, and other racists brawled in the streets with Marxist, Antifa radicals. A woman was murdered when someone decided to use his car as a weapon against a group of protestors, The New York Times is reporting that some community leaders, such as Brittany Caine-Conley, a minister in training at Sojourners United Church of Christ, are openly wondering where the police were in all of this chaos.

Where were the police?

While Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe claimed that law enforcement did all it could to tamp down the violence. Blogger Ann Althouse is not so sure, noting that she has seen far larger, more volatile rallies handled with dispatch by law enforcement with no outbreaks of violence, with opposing groups kept apart. The Huffington Post reported that police stood by while Nazis and Antifa were allowed to brawl unimpeded. Indeed, a private militia group was more proactive in breaking up fights than were the police or the National Guard who were deployed in riot gear but stood by.

Was there a stand down order?

Understandably, this passive response by law enforcement has elicited a great many conspiracy theories.

Why were the two sides not separated, as has been the case in similar protests? Why were protesters allowed to come armed with weapons? The common meme being expressed on social media is that local or state government, or possibly both, wanted violence to happen as a means to advance a political agenda. That plan is supposed to be the discrediting of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Everyone involved is denying that this was the case and there is no evidence that any political agenda was being served. However, questions remain.

A federal investigation

The Justice Department is initiating a civil rights investigation into the violence at Charlottesville, as it should. One aspect of the inquiry should be why law enforcement did not follow standard protocols in keeping down the violence.

To what extent did police passivity contribute to the carnage?

It should be stipulated that extremes on the left and the right that are willing to fight constitute a minute amount of the American population. Most people confine themselves to words when arguing about politics. However, even a small number of Extremists can cause damage, both physical and psychological, far out of proportion to their numbers if given free rein. If anyone is playing political games with public safety, that needs exposing and correcting.