Unsolved PRC Vandalism Feeds Culture of Lawlessness
Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “it is a priority of the Department [of Justice] to prosecute and investigate and find the people who are doing those fire bombings” of pregnancy resource centers (PRCs). But members of Congress weren’t easily convinced.
Ten months after a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion indicated the court would likely overturn Roe v. Wade in their Dobbs ruling, 100 churches, pro-life organizations, and PRCs have been targeted by pro-abortion violence and vandalism. Based on this wave of violence, the number of attacks on churches tripled in four years, while pro-life centers were 22 times more likely to be attacked than abortion facilities. But, to date, the FBI has only arrested two individuals regarding the PRC attacks. In fact, it took the FBI 46 days to even open an investigation, and a week later it hadn’t even contacted many clinics that had been attacked.
Last fall, a Religious Freedom Institute report warned that anti-PRC graffiti could “become routine, occurring as often as one to three times per day, so long as the environment remains permissive.”
Meanwhile, in 2022, the FBI indicted 26 individuals for criminal violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act targeting abortion centers, and it indicted eight more people this February. The FBI arrested one activist, Mark Houck, at home with his seven children in an early morning raid featuring an overwhelming number of agents in body armor — only for him to be acquitted months later.
Garland attempted to justify the mismatch in crimes and punishments. “Those actions are taken with photography at the time, during the daylight, and seeing the person who did it is quite easy. Those who are attacking the pregnancy resources centers — which is a horrid thing to do — are doing this at night in the dark.” Oh, if only they committed their crimes in front of city hall on main street.
The DOJ also refused to prosecute pro-abortion activists harassing the Supreme Court justices at their home addresses with weekly demonstrations — something Garland admitted Tuesday was also a crime. Those protests also occurred in the daylight and were captured on video. The only individual arrested for targeting the Supreme Court justices was a troubled young man who plotted to assassinate Justice Kavanaugh but decided to turn himself in instead.
Another reason why the FBI was so good at prosecuting pro-life protestors, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) noted on “Washington Watch,” was that they had infiltrated some pro-life groups with informants.
Yet the FBI’s failure to prosecute pro-abortion vandals is part of a larger, more alarming trend: law enforcement is getting worse at prosecuting many crimes. Setting aside federal law enforcement’s abysmal track record against BLM riots, PRC vandalism, or the Supreme Court leaker, ordinary police have fallen short too.
According to FBI statistics analyzed by The Marshall Project, the clearance rate for all murders was only 50% in 2020, with even lower success rates for assault (47%), rape (30%) and robbery (27%). Police usually “clear” a crime either by identifying and arresting a suspect, but they can also clear it if believe they have sufficient evidence but are unable to arrest or prosecute the suspect due to death, extradition issues, or the prosecutor’s refusal.
Proposed reasons for this decades-long decline in cleared murders are myriad. The Atlantic, a left-leaning magazine, highlighted six reasons in a recent interview: 1) unreliably high clearance rates from the 1960s; 2) the Supreme Court’s Miranda decision, emphasizing the rights of the accused; 3) more murders committed with guns; 4) higher expectations from juries and prosecutors; 5) police racism against black victims; or 6) fewer officers tasked with more murders. The analyst they interviewed proposed guns as the most impactful of those reasons.
Of course, the same evidence is open to multiple interpretations. According to a retired homicide detective, the lower clearance rates for black victims — which The Atlantic blamed on racism — was due to community mistrust hampering an investigation by making witnesses uncooperative. Yet another retired detective suggested the lack of cooperation was because “these young cops don’t know how to talk to people and get them to cooperate.”
Two causes, in particular, stand out as the result of recent political and cultural developments. First, an often-repeated complaint is that police departments lack the manpower and other resources to adequately investigate murders. In 2020, the Left adopted the slogan, “Defund the Police,” leading many large cities (with progressive constituencies) to dramatically slash police department funding. The flash-movement also corresponded with a wave of anti-police sentiment that created a hostile work environment, provoking many officers to retire early or seek safer and less tarnished professions.
Second, progressive candidates ran for district attorney positions in many large cities on what amounted to a platform of non-prosecution. Due to the financial backing of leftist billionaire George Soros, many of them won. These prosecutors — in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere — reduced bail, reduced sentences, or simply refused to prosecute. These political decisions predictably led to reduced deterrence to commit crimes, an increase in repeat offenders, and demoralization among police officers, whose good work would be disregarded.
In the latest example, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has faced calls to resign after a speeding driver facing felony charges ran over a teenager and onlookers filmed a man calmly load a gun and then shoot a homeless man — just in the past week. Light punishments lead to heavy crime.
However, neither of these reasons adequately explains the FBI’s failure to track down and charge pro-abortion vandals. The FBI has plenty of manpower and resources — witness their needlessly heavy presence while conducting early morning raids of political opponents, or their investigating parents who spoke out at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. Nor does the DOJ espouse an ideological commitment to reducing prosecutions; they’re perfectly happy to prosecute (or persecute) all the political opponents they can find. No, the DOJ demonstrates a lawlessness all its own, demonstrating a rabid partisanship that treats suspected criminals differently based upon whether they play for the blue team or red team.
That’s simply not how justice works.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.