By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin --(Ammoland.com)- I was stationed in Alaska in 1992 when the Rodney King uprising (also known as the Los Angeles riots) occurred.
I was glued to the TV watching CNN and darn glad I was an Air Force cop in Anchorage and not an LA cop or sheriff’s deputy.
Fifty-three people were killed during those riots, to include many Korean and other Asian store owners. Thousands of minority Californians committed crimes right in front of TV cameras.
What was not readily apparent to the TV viewer was the dramatic influence the wannabe gangsters of the greater LA area were having on the violence. They were taking advantage of the civil unrest to commit crimes and settle old scores.
What I did not hear very much from the media was that Las Vegas had similar street violence. The Clark County Metropolitan Sheriff’s Department put a stop to the violence most quickly. In fact, the 1992 US police officer of the year was a Clark County Deputy who led the counter charge in stopping the violence.
Nellis Air Force Base sits on the edge of Las Vegas. I discovered after the Air Force moved me there in 1993 that thousands of people holding military IDs who either lived in Las Vegas or were on vacation there made a desperate flight to the Air Base for safety. The powers to be at the base did not know what was happening, so they let everyone on base. Later there was the possibility of renewed riots. The senior leadership did not want to deal again with thousands of military “refugees” on their base, so a plan was drawn up on how military ID card holders would be refused entry (and safe haven) at Nellis AFB.
I do not think most military folks in the area knew of that plan. I guess those people who helped defend their country were to be left to the mercy of street violence. Since the L.A. police officers were convicted during their second trial the excuse for a second round of street violence vanished. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and, of course the military did not have to be seen on the national news turning their own people away from safety only to be later attacked in the civilian streets.
When the 9-11 attacks happened, the same mentality of not helping military families re-occurred. Active duty members living off base showed up the next day for work with their scared families in tow. No one knew what was going to happen, and there were tens of thousands of military spouses and children who did not want to be left at home unprotected. Active duty members were told at the entry gates to get out of their vehicles and walk to their work station. The families were directed to turn their vehicle around and head away from the base entrance.
But you know what? You have no right to be protected.
The military has no obligation to spend its resources and manpower trying to save the public (even if it is their personnel & family members) from civil crime.
Sounds harsh, but it is true. All those people in military uniforms enforcing civilian law in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina had been deputized under Louisiana State statute. Those law enforcing military members did not get to the scene of the violence for many days after the hurricane.
Now let us fast forward to the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. With 30 plus years in law enforcement and having gone to court many times, I predict that George Zimmerman will be acquitted for shooting Martin based on self-defense. Given all the violence after the police officer acquittals in the King beating trial, what do you think will happen in the streets of this country? I would suggest there is a measured level of legitimate pent-up anger in certain sectors of our society that will be enraged if Zimmerman walks free. I also think there will be many who will take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate very bad behavior.
I am extremely concerned about the potential for violence. I have made arrangements with family members as to how they should be proactive and then reactive about their safety on acquittal day. Beyond my family and friends’ safety during this impending ordeal, I am truly concerned for the safety of the career minority military members and their families. They will be caught in the middle.
It is our individual moral obligation (not military) to support, and, yes, help protect all members of our armed forces should this crisis come to pass. And pray I am completely wrong.Major Van Harl
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. , is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing. firstname.lastname@example.org