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Dan Sweeney

Dan Sweeney

Posted: April 27, 2009 04:25 PM

How Many More Cops Must Die?


Maybe it's because it just happened yesterday -- or maybe it's because all the national news networks are currently obsessed with SARS or Avian Flu or Mad Cow Disease or whatever the current potential pandemic that, like all the others, will surely result in the end of civilization as we know it -- but the national news has been missing the story that, here in Florida, we just had a cop-killing that bears eerie similarity to the recent case in Pittsburgh, in which Richard Poplawski allegedly shot and killed three police officers and tried to kill as many as nine others before being arrested. Afterward, much was made of Poplawski's belief that President Obama would soon be taking his guns away.

In Pennsylvania, it began because of dog piss. Here in Florida, it started with a pair of Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputies arriving at a shooting range to arrest a man for domestic violence. According to the Associated Press story, deputies Warren York and Burt Lopez Tasered suspect Joshua Cartwright, who fell to the ground and then came up shooting with a concealed weapon, killing both officers. That led to a car chase, which ended when Cartwright's truck flipped over and Cartwright, a member of the Florida National Guard, burst out of the truck shooting, dying himself after a half-minute gunfight in which more than 60 rounds were fired.

And sure enough, buried in the 12th paragraph of the AP story linked above, is the Okaloosa sheriff's comment that "Cartwright was interested in militia groups and weapons training." When Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's office put out a report warning of growing "right-wing extremism," she was pilloried in the conservative media. Glenn Beck went totally haywire ... well, more haywire than usual. Michael Savage sued the DHS. It was all good for publicity. But all it did was tacitly tie the kooky ideology espoused by Beck and Savage to the explicitly dangerous actions of men like Poplawski and now, Cartwright.

Beck's and Savage's followers seem equally ignorant of the stupidity of their actions. At the myriad tea parties held a couple weeks ago, many folks held up signs proudly declaring themselves "Right-wing extremists," a reference to the DHS report. I attended the tea party in Fort Lauderdale, and saw several signs of that ilk.

But the far-right's anchoring themselves to the even-farther-right is hardly the big takeaway from all this. With Poplawski and now Cartwright, and who knows how many others to follow, the point to be made is that this sort of right-wing extremism does exist and represents a serious threat to both police officers and law-abiding citizens that disagree with the viewpoints of these pissants. (Recall the case of Jim Adkisson, who pleaded guilty this past February to marching into a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., to "go kill liberals." He murdered two people with a sawed-off shotgun and wounded seven others before the church congregation wrestled him to the ground.)

It may be a weird point coming from me, given some previous posts I've made on the subject of law enforcement on my old blog, Doomed Generation. But in a Nixon-goes-to-China sort of way, I suppose it makes sense. Indeed, the last thing we need is any reason to give police officers more fear of the citizenry they are supposed to protect. I don't know what the answer is. I don't think tighter gun control will do a damn bit of good, and I'm fairly pro-gun myself, a point of contention among my more-liberal friends. But something needs to be done, and soon. Burt Lopez had five kids. Warren York had a 10-year-old. Joshua Cartwright was a waste of humanity who beat his wife. The difference is huge.