Newt Gingrich Commentary: The First Rule of Riots Is to Stop Them

by Newt Gingrich


The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a complete outrage.

The complete failure of Minneapolis officials to stop and prevent the ensuing riot is a second outrage.

I will talk about this horrifying death in a moment, but I’ll start with the Minneapolis system’s failure.

The first rule of riots is to preempt them and stop them.

While people are rioting, the rule of law is collapsed, and street mobs dominate. Because mobs are directionless and led only by waves of emotion, hostility, and hate, every innocent person nearby is inherently in danger.

The more authority pulls back, the more the lawlessness moves in and the mob takes property, destroys property, and endangers lives.

People who had been forced to stay home by COVID-19 now might find themselves forced to stay home from fear of what might happen to them if the mob caught them in the street. And in the most violent neighborhoods, even staying in your own home is not a guarantee of safety.

Small business owners in Minneapolis, who are often Somali, Black, Hispanic, and mostly women, may find their lifetime’s work destroyed by a vengeful, hateful mob.

The first duty of government is to provide physical security.

The city of Minneapolis failed to protect its citizens.

The state of Minnesota failed to protect its citizens.

Now, the President of the United States is threatening to intervene with federal forces as President Lyndon Johnson did in Detroit in 1967 and President George H W Bush did in Los Angeles in 1992.

Unfortunately, the tragedy unfolding in Minneapolis is one we have seen again and again.

A significant part of the Black community rightly feels abandoned and alienated. Liberalism has cheated them in virtually every aspect of their lives. Trapped in a political system controlled by bureaucratic unions, interest groups dependent on or regulated by government, and left-wing activists, there is both a sense of hopelessness and a feeling of constant anger which can exploded into rage.

In Minneapolis, the teachers’ union traps poor children in schools which fail to educate them. This makes it hard to get a decent job. High taxes and layers of self-serving, unaccountable bureaucrats make it hard to create small businesses.

Faced with high unemployment, few property owners, even fewer business owners, and no one to mentor young people in how to succeed, there is a depth of bitterness and despair. The liberals who dominate Minnesota and Minneapolis elections have a series of beliefs that simply don’t work. They hire too few police, train them too little, and offer them no support. Meanwhile, there are countless studies that show if you want to reduce use of force incidents, you fund police and ensure they are well-trained.

Much of the Black community sees the police as an occupying force. Liberals spew hatred of the police. Meanwhile. much of the police force sees itself as trying to protect people who it knows dislike – and in many cases despise – it.

The video of the killing of George Floyd was horrifying to see. Anyone who saw it who had an ounce of compassion had to have been deeply enraged. The minute the film went viral, officials should have moved decisively to establish control.

  • They should have found a plausible reason to keep the policeman detained pending investigation. The videos from multiple directions provide overwhelming proof that something horrendous happened, and it would enrage people.
  • They should have announced immediately and firmly that no violence or destructiveness would be tolerated. Peaceful demonstrations should have been accepted and encouraged.
  • They should have immediately mobilized enough National Guard to retain control of the street. The liberals on the Minneapolis City Council had so weakened the police department that it should have been obvious the police could not maintain control. Furthermore, the police were going to be the focus of community anger, so asking the police to be the line between civilization and barbarism was inviting a disaster.
  • The minute the crowd began to build around the police station, the National Guard should have been sent in to flood the streets with the forces of law and order (the classic British principle for controlling riots in Hong Kong).
  • If necessary, the Minnesota state police should have been assigned to work as partners with the Minneapolis police in arresting anyone who broke the law.

Instead of these tried and true principles for controlling a crisis, the elected officials reacted in exactly the wrong way.

They enraged the crowd by announcing they were not ready to restrain the policeman seen kneeling on George Floyd’s neck (he has since been charged with murder). They sounded weak and uncertain, giving the mob the impression its violence would be tolerated and condoned.

The Minneapolis police, after years of budget cuts, training cuts, vilification by elected officials and activists, decided it wasn’t their fight and began to empty the precinct station because they saw no reason to risk their lives for a political system which held them in contempt.

There is every reason to be angry about what happened to George Floyd and to demand justice.

There is no reason to allow a mob to take over Minneapolis.

Tragically, this is a glimpse of much deeper roots of tragedy and failure in many American cities.

– – –

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is a nationally syndicated opinion news columnist, host of the Newt’s World podcast, and author of the New York Times bestsellers Understanding Trump and Trump’s America. More of his commentary can be found at
Photo “Minnesota Rioters” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.








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6 Thoughts to “Newt Gingrich Commentary: The First Rule of Riots Is to Stop Them”

  1. Padgeral

    It seems the Democrats will stop at NOTHING to defeat president Trump even if it means letting there cities burn down. Everything is Trump’s fault. Man up take responsibility for your actions, stop playing politics!! We are better than this. Equal justice for ALL!!!!!

  2. Traditional Thinker

    Amen Rick

  3. midnitelamp

    boy. the “heroes” wouldn’t even defend their own station house. and there are politicians who want to seize your guns.

  4. William Delzell

    The first rule of stopping a riot is finding the cause of when you know it. In this case, the video showed a white officer chocking a non-resisting suspect to death with no show of emotion on his face as he continued to strangle the suspect and with three other officers standing by not stopping the strangulation. We already knew that the particular officer doing the strangling and at least one of the three onlooking officers have had previous complaints of abuse filed against them. The fact that the Minneapolis Police Department covered up for these officers and made no effort to discipline them PROVES right there the real cause of this riot. These officers should not only be fired, but charged with varying degrees of murder. The one who did the strangling should face FIRST-, not mere third, degree murder charges. For the state prosecutors settle for a lesser charge indicates that the state secretly condons what these four officers did.

    I want effective law enforcement just as much as the next person, but I want this law enforcement to be accountable for its actions and even-handed in its dealing with people of all races and genders. The Minneapolis Police failed to pass this test the other day.

    Only by earning and keeping the trust of low income and non-white people can the police ever legitimately function.

    Minneapolis has a lot of work to do.

    Apparently it is bad for a black police officer to shoot a white woman, but it is not wrong for a white police officer of either gender to kill a black person of either gender. That’s the takeaway.

    1. Deplorable Bay Stater


      A wise man once said that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. You have now removed all doubt.

      Before shooting off your mouth you should first get your facts straight. Do you even know the difference, under MN law, between 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree murder? Or do you even care what the law says?

      Officer Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder because his alleged actions match the legal definition of that charge and do not match the legal definitions of 1st degree or 2nd degree murder. Of course, like most leftists, you prefer to make up the rules on the fly to suit your emotional perception of how awful the offense it. We’re all horrified by what Chauvin did, but we are a nation of laws and we must be bound by those laws. If “nobody is above the law”, that must also apply to prosecutors deciding what the charge should be. We can all be thankful you don’t have that authority…God knows we already have more than enough judges and prosecutors who seem to think the law is whatever they think it should be, never mind what it actually is.

      And, by the way, these riots in Minneapolis and other cities, including most recently Boston, have absolutely nothing to do with Geoge Floyd’s death. They are 100% about a bunch of lawless thugs who see an opportunity to take advantage of incompetence by stirring up trouble. In Boston, up until about 9 pm Sunday, it was a legitimate peaceful protest. From that point on, it became a riot which was in no way related to the original purpose of the protest. I don’t have first-hand knowledge of what happened in other cities, but I’d be very surprised if it was different.

  5. rick

    The first rule: Do NOT elect Leftist Socialist Democrats !!