BY ADAM PRESTON
It feels as though nowadays that extremes make up the majority of political life. Whether it comes from the far-right or the far-left, extremism has undoubtedly taken center stage for American politics; a familiar feeling since the rioting, looting, and political violence that took place during 2020. But how could we have ever gotten to this point? What would even encourage the political landscape to shift towards appeasing extreme talking points? It all goes back to something that answers many similar questions: law enforcement and its utmost brutal practices; more specifically, no-knock raids. At a smaller level, one would probably see this and think that such an answer is much too simple, that there are likely more causes to such a problem than just poor police practice, but look no further than two major police killings that shaped the political landscape of 2020: Duncan Lemp and Breonna Taylor.
Many are already familiar with the case of Breonna Taylor, the emergency room technician who was shot and killed during a no-knock raid by the Louisville Police Department under the presumption that the home was being used to peddle drugs, and whose boyfriend unknowingly shot at the officers who did not announce themselves as they entered the pair’s home. Taylor’s untimely death at the hands of the police sparked many protests across the nation alongside the ongoing George Floyd protests, only increasing the intensity and rate of protestors everywhere.
Though many know of Breonna Taylor, very few know of a similar event that took place in Potomac Maryland which sparked a similar form of protest across the country in the form of The Boogaloo Movement. Duncan Lemp was a 21-year-old who was living with his family and pregnant girlfriend while working on a collection of small projects based on his ideals regarding the Constitution and the Federal Government. Lemp was a vocal fan of the Constitution and actively spoke out against actions that he believed violated citizens’ rights. This, alongside a juvenile record, was reason enough for the Potomac Police to utilize a no-knock raid against Lemp.
Following this conclusion, according to a report by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, on March 12, 2020, at 4:30 AM, a SWAT team descended on the Lemp residence. Awakened by the commotion, the officers claimed that Duncan Lemp rose from his bed and grabbed a bedside rifle before being shot five times by an unnamed officer. However, it should be noted that according to his at-the-time pregnant girlfriend, Lemp was asleep next to her when he was killed, though the body-camera footage was not conclusive as to who is telling the truth. It also should be noted that this is not the first no-knock raid of Maryland SWAT units to go awry according to USA Today.
Duncan Lemp’s untimely demise at the hand of Police Officers only accelerated the beginning of the greater Boogaloo Movement, spiraling into reality in places like Virginia and Ohio, with dedicated groups such as America Refounded and Task Force Duncan. This group, which was known to be anti-government and considered extremist by The ADL and SPLC, saw Lemp as a martyr.
Both of these individuals’ deaths greatly contributed to both Black Lives Matter and the Boogaloo movement, both of which worked together on numerous occasions to protest police violence. However, both groups also gained notoriety for political violence and rioting, contributing heavily to the snowball effect of political extremes. With BLM, there were and are numerous cases of rioting that befell cities across the country, and with the Boogaloo, numerous news stories of domestic terror plots, homicides, and general political violence alongside their armed presence at protests. Their presence in politics can still be felt across the board, whether it calls to disband the ATF, further defund and dismantle the current policing practices, call for a national divorce, or even simply call for political aisles to arm themselves against opposition violence or oppression.
Yet, the most common factors for this violence? Governmental overreach in how law enforcement is handled. Whether it is the militarization of police or blatant misuse of police privileges, it is clear that how things are structured now will only continue to be detrimental to political common ground.
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