National Police Association spokesperson retired Sgt. Betsy Smith says the media is currently spending a great deal of time talking about the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol but not enough on violent riots perpetrated over the past year by Antifa and other activist groups.
“Right now, their current obsession is, you know, white supremacy, white supremacists, and the Capitol riot. They don’t want to talk about the other 99 percent of violent riots that American law enforcement has been dealing with for the past almost year,” Smith, a 29-year veteran of a large police department in the suburbs of Chicago, told NTD’s “The Nation Speaks.”
“We’re focusing on one riot on January 6, and it’s very, extremely frustrating to law enforcement,” she said.
Smith’s concerns come as protesters, including Black Lives Matter and far-left activists, continue to clash with police in cities across the nation. Some of the activists are alleged to be members of the anarcho-communist group Antifa and other far-left groups, who have taken advantage of a number of peaceful protests calling for police reform by creating a scene of civil unrest and engaging in violence, lighting fires, looting, and damaging property.
On Inauguration Day, protesters were seen marching in the streets of Seattle and Portland, Oregon, before some individuals started to riot. Videos and photos from the aftermath show property damage and vandalism, including damage at a courthouse. Individuals in both cities were arrested for assault, rioting, and reckless burning, according to the police departments.
Independent reporter Andy Ngo, who has been closely monitoring and reporting on Antifa in Portland, said some of the rioters who were arrested at the Jan. 20 Portland riots had been arrested at Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and released.
More recently, members of Antifa and other protesters were seen marching the streets of Washington on Feb. 6, chanting “burn it down.” At one point, a group, donned in black, briefly clashed with police in front of outdoor diners when protesters ignored officers’ instructions to “move back,” according to a video filmed by an independent reporter.
“When most Americans wake up and take a look at their phone, or their newspaper to get their news, they’re not going to see much Antifa activity unless they live in an area where Antifa is extremely prevalent,” Smith said.
She said an example of this was the Jan. 20 Seattle and Portland riots, saying that “most people had no idea that had occurred because the media very much gives them a pass.”
Smith also lamented the lack of leadership to help police officers prepare for such violent protests. She said that to prepare officers for these situations, there needs to be more intelligence sharing between local law enforcement agencies, federal government agencies, as well as a sharing of resources.
“[Protesters] don’t necessarily show up in secret,” Smith said. “There’s lots of planning, most larger law enforcement agencies and certainly the federal government … have intelligence officers that collect data and very often they know that these protests these riots are going to occur.”
She added that officers also need to have the right equipment in order to be physically prepared. Dozens of police officers across the country were injured during riots seen through the summer of 2020.
“[The equipment] keep those officers safe while they’re trying to protect small businesses,” she said. “And very often, like we saw in Minneapolis, minority-owned small businesses, they’re being destroyed, and that destroys people’s lives.”
The National Police Association is a not-for-profit organization that educates Americans about the job of law enforcement, assists police officers through legal filings, seeks to combat anti-police sentiment, and works with public officials to further the interest of law enforcement.
NTD anchor Cindy Drukier contributed to this report.