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Weighing the Guns of August Against the Politics of November


From here to the Midwest, the actions of law-enforcement authorities form the big political topic of the summer of 2014.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — often labeled a tea party conservative — drew particular attention for his statements on the troubles in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer. He linked a “militarization of law enforcement” to a more general “erosion of civil liberties and due process.”

And, Paul said, race still “skews the application of criminal justice in this country.”
“The outrage in Ferguson is understandable,” Paul wrote in Time magazine, “though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.”

Pundits soon analyzed this through the lens of his prospects as a 2016 presidential candidate. But in New York, former Westchester Democratic Assemb. Richard Brodsky — far from a tea party conservative — wrote last week: “We’ve quietly and without examination created a system of military policing, and bam, we’re watching a new kind of America.”

Disturbances in Ferguson overshadowed — partially but not completely — a tempest over the death of Staten Islander Eric Garner during his videotaped arrest last month. There, the spotlight turns to the borough’s district attorney, Dan Donovan, to see if indictments result. The time frame for Donovan’s actions, if any, remains hazy.