Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
After failing to deal with months of violent riots in Portland, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that she instead wants the police to go after families celebrating Thanksgiving.
When asked whether Oregonians should call the police on their neighbors if they have more than 6 people in their homes for Thanksgiving, she replied, “This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street… they call law enforcement.”
Except law enforcement has no interest in replying.
The Marion County Sheriff’s office, whose jurisdiction includes the state capital, declined, stating, “We cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic.”
When Governor Cuomo of New York, whose order forcing nursing homes to accept infected coronavirus patients may have killed as many as 11,000 senior citizens, tried to enlist law enforcement in his crackdown on Thanksgiving, the sheriffs of New York also wouldn’t do it.
The Steuben County Sheriff’s Office assured that “the men and women of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office will not be peeking in your window or attempting to enter your property to count the number of persons at your table on Thanksgiving.”
“I can’t see how devoting our resources to counting cars in our citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey or dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good,” the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office objected.
“This national holiday has created longstanding family traditions that are at the heart of America, and these traditions should not be stopped or interrupted by Governor Cuomo’s mandates,” the Erie County Sheriff’s Office declared.
“With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be enforcing it,” another office stated, “So don’t feel a need to hide cars, cover with leaves or walk 3 blocks so your house doesn’t become a target of the Governors EO.”
Democrats and their media have blamed this rebellion on Republican sheriffs in conservative areas, but Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr is a black Democrat and his office still opted out of the “enforcement of Thanksgiving gatherings”.
While Governor Cuomo fumed that this Irish Democracy was, “frightening to democracy”, a Buffalo print shop began selling stickers of Cuomo’s giant head peering into windows.
Next door in New Jersey, Governor Murphy threatened to be, “as all over it as we can be.”
Then he was caught on a viral video dining out with his family. Meanwhile, the Howell Township police chief stated, “I wasn’t going to have my police officers going knocking on doors and ruining somebody’s holiday just to check how many people are inside their house.”
The law enforcement rebellion wasn’t new in California. It had been going on for some time.
After Governor Newsom issued his latest curfew, the sheriffs of Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Sacramento County, Tulare County, Fresno County, El Dorado County, and others announced that they would not be enforcing it with either tickets or arrests.
And no one would be tampering with Thanksgiving.
“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office will not be determining—including entering any home or business—compliance with, or enforcing compliance of, any health or emergency orders related to curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving or other social gatherings,” the Sacramento County Sheriff stated. “We will not dispatch officers for these purposes.”
“From the very beginning, we have not enforced these orders. We are not going to make criminals out of normally law-abiding citizens,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.
.In Ohio, some sheriffs were willing to be the Thanksgiving police, while others weren’t.
“It’s not knocking on people’s doors on Thanksgiving and saying, ‘You’ve had more than eight or 10 people,’ and it’s not to make criminals out of everyday working people,” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said.
The law enforcement uprisings in New York, California, Oregon, and Ohio are part of a larger trend with local police departments indicating that they don’t want to be the mask police.
A study in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Online found that only 10% of police departments surveyed were acting as the mask police while 70% encouraged following the rules. This attitude by law enforcement forced some of the biggest cities in the country to bypass the police and utilize other means of enforcing their lockdowns and arbitrary decrees.
In Los Angeles, violators were threatened with having their water and power shut off. In New York City, a legion of city inspectors were pulled away from other duties to swarm Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn after Governor Cuomo announced a crackdown on religious Jews.
The use of inspectors rather than police has become a widespread and illegal tactic for targeting small businesses, but has reached its limit as most businesses can’t survive if they close down.
The early months in the pandemic saw a boom in surveillance technologies, including drone flybys and infrared remote scans, but most police departments didn’t want anything to do with them.
A small number of police departments adopted the drones and made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only did most people hate them, but they also proved to be useless. Police departments that tried using the drones to break up large gatherings found that people wouldn’t listen. And the surveillance capabilities of the drones had been vastly overhyped.
As the Black Lives Matter riots broke out, police departments shifted away from coronavirus enforcement to cope with the violence and avoid being caught up in viral videos. It was around this time that the increased crime rate brought on by the riots and the mass jailbreak of prison inmates to protect them from the virus tied up the resources of underfunded departments.
Coronavirus enforcement, something most departments and officers didn’t want to do anyway, was the first casualty of the new dangerous environment brought on by the BLM riots.
Law enforcement had only been able to commit the spare resources to coronavirus enforcement because of a drop in crime rates early in the lockdowns, but once crime rates soared and cities and counties hit highs that hadn’t been seen in decades or generations, all of that ended. The budget cuts brought on by the collapse of small businesses and police defunding also left local law enforcement without enough resources to even answer calls, let alone play mask police.
And most law enforcement personnel are resentful of having been hung out to dry, robbed of resources and political support by Democrat governors and mayors, and then told to enforce widely unpopular shutdowns and mask fines by those same politicians.
Democrat politicians can’t defund the police and expect them to shut down Thanksgiving.
“It’s ironic on the heel of these cries to ‘defund the police’ and limit their response to what some perceive as non-emergency calls that the police department is now being asked to police family gatherings during the holiday season,” the president of Akron’s police union objected.
Not all law enforcement personnel have opted out of coronavirus enforcement. Elected sheriffs have the easiest time shrugging crackdowns away. Urban police chiefs appointed by mayors can’t put out dismissive press releases as easily, but they have made it a very low priority.
The struggle to enforce coronavirus lockdowns and codes without much support from police departments is a sign of just how challenging the post-police vision of the Democrats will be.
Democrats have turned to inspectors to fine small businesses and pull their licenses, but the inspectors are running into angry small business owners and patriotic crowds.
The Anne Arundel County Health Department was forced to cancel evening enforcement and daytime enforcement in rowdier bars. It also had to stop sending female inspectors. After Democrat Milwaukee health inspectors faced a backlash for harassing a pro-Trump rally, they no longer go anywhere without a police escort. That defeats the purpose of police defunding.
The bigger purpose of police defunding is to fundamentally shift enforcement priorities from fighting crime to pursuing social agendas, and while police departments dutifully rack up hate crime citations and participate in community policing events, their mission hasn’t changed.
The coronavirus lockdowns succeeded in dividing the country and destroying small businesses on an unprecedented scale, but they failed to turn America into East Germany. Instead the fault lines of the pandemic revealed that much of the country would not go along with the crackdown.
And the men and women of law enforcement, for the most part, did the right thing.
Even in difficult times, that ought to give us hope for the future of our country. And this Thanksgiving, it is another thing about this great nation to be thankful for.