HILL: Murder in Memphis

Cleotha Abston appears in Judge Louis Montesi courtroom for his arraignment on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Memphis, Tenn. Abston, has been charged with kidnapping and murdering jogger Eliza Fletcher. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian via AP)

Popular culture reflects American moods and values. Sometimes it precedes changes in public opinion and, in many ways, helps shape it. 

In the late 1960s, a wave of lawlessness and crime swept the nation. The 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was a televised mosh pit of violence and mayhem which exemplified the lack of respect for the rule of law in America. Richard Nixon ran on a strong law-and-order platform to win the White House against liberal Democrat Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey. 

Nixon attributed his decisive victory to the “silent majority” of Americans who were just fed up with the violence they witnessed in their cities and on the news on a daily basis. 

Over the next two decades, movies such as Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” (1971) and Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” (1974) series became big hits in the aftermath of those turbulent 1960s. American police forces were respected, funded, honored and supported. The rampant crime abundant in the 60s steadily came down to the point New York City under Mayor Rudy Guiliani was rated one of the safest places in America to live. 

Two of the highest-rated streaming series in recent months have been “Reacher” and “The Terminal List”, both of which feature ex-Special Forces or SEAL veterans who suffer personal loss at the hands of some really bad guys. They resolve to kill everyone directly responsible ― and then some.  

The subliminal message in all vigilante justice movies is if elected officials won’t let law enforcement protect the public from crime and lawlessness, then by God, let someone else do it. 

America is based on the rule of law. We don’t need a society of gun-toting vigilante warriors. We need elected officials to understand what the rule of law is and let law enforcement control the streets, not the criminals. 

In the minds of most Americans, something has gone seriously askew with extreme far-left liberal politicians castrating local law enforcement. Repeated instances of mayors and city councils telling their police forces to stand down during the George Floyd riots of 2020 are now seared into the memories of millions of local residents who were truly fearful for their lives and property, perhaps for the first time in their life. 

The brutal senseless murder of beloved kindergarten school teacher Eliza Fletcher and the four shooting murders by Ezekiel Kelly, the last of which was filmed on Facebook Live, in Memphis might be the tipping point for a new “silent majority” of citizens of all races to demand security and justice from elected officials. 

If an innocent young woman such as Eliza Fletcher who runs marathons can be randomly and brutally killed while jogging by a man with repeated offenses who was released early from a 24-year prison sentence, “who is really safe anymore?” goes the thinking.  

Eliza Fletcher’s death, like every single one of the 44 murders per day committed in America, was senseless and unwarranted. Well over half of all homicides are committed against black people, including what seems like one black child per day in crime-ridden Chicago.  

In the eyes of God, no life taken is more or less important than any other. They are each and every one its own individual tragedy. 

The Democrat mayor of Memphis, Jim Strickland, said “Our judicial system is too often a revolving door… We should not be terrorized by anyone who wants to strike fear in our hearts and take away what we love about Memphis”. 

Mayor Strickland may be the first Democrat mayor to state publicly what everyone knows to be true ― crime is out of control in major metropolitan cities and counties. The root causes of crime are many and varied but the political answer to it has to come from elected local Democrat officials, not Republicans. There is hardly an elected Republican on any local major city board or commission today in New York, Chicago, Atlanta or Los Angeles ― there are only two in Wake and Mecklenburg County combined. 

If Democrats are unwilling to support law enforcement and protect citizens, there will be a rise of unaffiliated candidates filing to run for office on the crime issue alone. 

It is better than having an army of Jack Reachers and Rambos patrolling our streets.