A coalition of Republican attorneys general hit out Wednesday at what they called “100 days of lawlessness” in Democratic-run cities, demanding state and local officials push back against the rioting and looting that has roiled the country throughout the summer.
“Unfortunately over the last 100 days, we have seen the threads of our democracy being ripped apart through violence, paid professional riots, tearing at the culture that makes America great,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a call with reporters.
“What we have seen over the past 100 days… is rioting, violence, the visual we have seen is extremely unsettling,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said.
Republicans at both state and national level have been drawing attention to looting and violence in cities like Portland and elsewhere for months and accusing Democrats of ignoring, or even encouraging, what’s happening.
The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) is marking the “100 days of lawlessness” since violence began in Portland with a series of digital and TV ads highlighting what they described as “radical and lawless actions being encouraged, perpetrated, or ignored by Democrat attorneys general and candidates.”
But while a number of Democrats have in fact condemned violence, Republicans have said that those calls have not been strong enough and have come too late — and that they risk exacerbating violence with calls to defund the police.
“The concept that is being pushed, whether it’s by our colleagues or from the top down or from lawless liberals whether elected or opinion leaders that we must defund the police is not only ludicrous — it’s dangerous,” Rutledge said. “We must defend the police rather than defund the police.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this week condemned the riots in strong terms, stressing that “rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”
Carr, however, said that Biden “looked extremely comfortable” when he did so.
“He didn’t do it because of policy, he didn’t do it because of principle, he did it because of polling,” he said.
He contrasted that with the way Republicans have handled the rioting.
“In those three months Republicans have consistently and quickly been on record denouncing violence and opposing defunding the police as a concept that will make anything better,” he said.
Republicans have ramped up their focus on violence in Democratic-run cities in recent weeks, and the alleged softness from Democrats — who have often focused more on allegations of police violence than riots and looting.
President Trump’s campaign has warned voters that they won’t be safe in “Joe Biden’s America.” But Biden has pushed back on that claim.
“These are not images of some imagined Joe Biden America in the future, these are images of Donald Trump’s America today,” Biden said on Monday.