Editorial: Spreading destruction, chaos undermines legitimate voices of social reform

Stop the street madness, New York and other cities. Stop it right now. You are turning people against you, risking a resurgence of coronavirus, and empowering a president who couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario to activate his base.

In Minneapolis, George Floyd’s killer is under arrest. He and the three other cops who stood by while he put his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 interminable minutes are gone from the force. They cannot be fired again; charges likely await the other three.

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Here in New York, the state passed historic criminal justice reforms last year. Complaints about biased social distancing enforcement were heard weeks ago; Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD dialed it back.

To the extent that (humor us) people hurling Molotov cocktails and burning police cars and frightening their neighbors care about fixing New York’s bad shield law, 50-a, which hides cops’ disciplinary records from the public, we agree. So do de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo. Destruction and chaos only distract from and set back that cause.

Of course, breaking store windows, spraypainting “All Cops Are Bastards,” taunting and goading ordinary cops of every race, have nothing to do with any of this. Nor do they fairly reflect the anguish of many protesters sickened by another “I can’t breathe” killing.

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They are nothing but juvenile howls of rage against the very idea of policing, the very fact of jails, a bid to push into chaos exhausted neighborhoods already reeling from coronavirus and the economic shutdown it brought.

This will backfire. It is already backfiring. Stop it right now.