America is burning. The fire stoked by the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has led domestic terrorists to hijack the community’s justifiable anger and to go on a rampage across the country — setting a police station ablaze in Minneapolis, possibly beating a man to death in Dallas, smashing windows, torching police vehicles and looting property in out-of-control rioting from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco and most major cities in between.
Floyd’s killing was a horrific, unjustifiable act, condemned by Americans across the country, of all races and backgrounds. President Trump condemned it, too, and he immediately ordered the federal government to investigate Floyd’s killing and to ensure that justice is done for him, his family, his community and for the entire nation.
But now is the time for even greater leadership — leadership for those who are angry at what happened in Minneapolis, and for those who are afraid that the country is being torn apart — and it can only come from the president.
Many of the victims of the rampages we are witnessing across the country are small or medium-sized businesspeople who were just starting to hope they might recover from the nation’s pandemic lockdown, but who may now face utter ruin. Many other victims are the very people who the rioters falsely claim to be supporting — those whose neighborhoods have been wrecked, torched and perhaps permanently stripped of stores that provided life essentials and jobs to local residents. None of this will bring about justice, nor does it honor George Floyd’s memory.
As Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms said in a plea to her city, “A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city. So if you love this city — this city that has had a legacy of black mayors and black police chiefs and people who care about this city, where more than 50 percent of the business owners in metro Atlanta are minority business owners — if you care about this city, then go home.”
If ever there was a time for leadership, the time is right at this moment. We are desperate for it.
President Trump, who said he was the “law-and-order candidate” in the 2016 election, needs to fill the leadership vacuum in our country. Americans of all races, terrified to leave their homes while whole neighborhoods in their cities are being ransacked and burned, need to hear from him. He needs to give a prime-time presidential address — tonight — from the Oval Office, outlining the steps the federal government will take to keep Americans safe.
The president demonstrated that he can hit the right notes in his speech at the SpaceX launch on Saturday. He said the death of “George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis was a grave tragedy. It should never have happened.” He told the nation that “I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace, and I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this opportunity to loot, rob, attack, and menace. Healing not hatred, justice not chaos, are the mission at hand.”
Those were strong words, the right message. But Americans, whether they are angry or afraid at this moment, need to hear those words again, tonight, in prime time. The president should double down on the salient statement Attorney General William Barr made Saturday, affirming the Justice Department’s commitment to deliver justice to George Floyd’s family. We need to hear that the domestic terrorists, who have hijacked legitimate protests in order to perpetrate violence across the country, will face the wrath of the federal government where applicable, that the president is working with governors across the country to deploy the National Guard and to provide whatever logistical military support is needed.
Local leaders need to feel the heat from the president. Many of the same politicians who forced law-abiding citizens to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic are now allowing domestic terrorists to destroy their cities. They are intentionally pouring gasoline on the fire or are willfully ignorant to what is happening in their cities. They must be called out.
That was put on full display during a local television interview with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor said that the “people who represent the communities of our city and the residents of our city are not joining negative and violent protests. You can see it with your own eyes. They’re just not participating in it.” These words were uttered as, on a split-screen shot, viewers could see the fire and destruction to the right of the mayor on their TV screens.
While Americans are witnessing the destruction of the cities and the country they love, the White House reportedly is debating whether the president should give a formal address to the nation. No debate is needed. There is a hunger for leadership in the country right now, Mr. President, and the nation needs to hear from you tonight.
Lisa Boothe is a senior fellow of Independent Women’s Voice, a conservative policy organization, and a Fox News contributor. She has worked for numerous Republican members of Congress and political campaigns. Follow her on Twitter @LisaMarieBoothe.