By Gov. Pat McCrory
Like many areas across our country, cities across North Carolina — Fayetteville, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and more — have been ravaged by looters and rioters, historic statues and monuments are being defaced and destroyed, and our citizens are being killed by violent criminals at an alarming rate.
I have personal experience confronting challenges to law and order in our nation’s major cities. When I became mayor of Charlotte in 1995, the murder rate was over 120 people per year, and our crime rate was soaring. The last thing on our minds was defunding our police department. Instead, we did the opposite, increasing police funding to put more law enforcement officers in our neighborhoods. We also instituted community policing, training officers to work directly with community leaders who wanted us to get tough on crime and lock up the career criminals who were repeat — and often routine — offenders.
We put a major emphasis on those criminals we were arresting over and over again — sometimes 20, 30 or 40 times — for armed robberies, assaults, and even rape and murder. We started rigorously prosecuting these career criminals, and if needed, helping them with drug rehab. These efforts were supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, especially within the African American community. As a result of these policies, our murder rate fell to fewer than 50 people a year, and our crime rate went down continuously over the following decade that I served as mayor.
Sadly, in 2020, we see liberal politicians pursuing just the opposite of the successful approach we followed in Charlotte. Our police officers are afraid to do their jobs because in many instances, they know they can’t count on support from state and local politicians. Just recently in Charlotte, four people were savagely gunned down at a local block party, with another 10 people injured. More than 400 people were attending the block party, yet not one witness has come forward. Yet, there is no outrage from the liberal left, despite the loss of four black lives. Only a $5,000 reward is being offered to help find those killers — less than Charlotte spent paying artists to paint a BLM mural. This violent incident didn’t make the national news, even though a shocking 150 rounds were fired into the gathering.
Violence in our cities is no longer just confined to gangs and career criminals. Our cities are now threatened by Antifa and other domestic terrorists’ groups. In 2016, when I was governor, I had to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard — over the initial objections of the then liberal mayor of Charlotte — to protect government property and restore order when violent protesters got out of control and began blocking roads and highways and destroying buildings.
Despite media denials, the reality is that Antifa exploits legitimate protest movements as cover for its campaign of violent destruction.
Our President and Attorney General Barr are correct by exposing these two types of violence that are wreaking havoc on our citizens, neighborhoods and businesses in our cities across America. It’s time for our mayors and governors to work with our President and attorney general in confronting this violence and protecting the safety of our country, just as I did in a bipartisan effort with three previous Presidents as a mayor and governor. Let’s all support fighting these anarchists’ groups and gangs while supporting peaceful assembling and our First Amendment rights.
Pat McCrory served as the 74th governor of North Carolina. He also served as the 53rd mayor of Charlotte.