728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90
728 x 90

Let’s RICO the Organizers of Pro-Hamas Lawlessness

Let’s RICO the Organizers of Pro-Hamas Lawlessness

A version of this essay was first published in the May 2, 2024 Epoch Times.

First: Some advice to those Jewish students who feel threatened by pro-Hamas thugs: Don’t just whine. Don’t hide. Stand tall and proud. Use your constitutional right to carry mace or a gun. Learn to use them safely and effectively.

Yes, I know most of you grew up in politically-liberal households. I know this advice runs counter to your upbringing. I get that. When I was growing up, my father was almost the only politically-conservative Jew of my acquaintance.

But political liberalism is an affordable luxury only for those who don’t have to face brutal reality. The Holocaust survivors and the founders of the State of Israel learned all about that.

Yes, I know the campus bureaucracy may not want you to carry. But are you confident they will protect you from anti-Semitic hoodlums? You shouldn’t be. Isn’t your life and safety worth the minor risk of their displeasure?

When Will Americans Get Tired of This?

For the universities, it’s the 1960s and 1970s all over again. The same campus disruption. The same kind of law-breaking. The same encouragement from leftist professors, however much some may try to distinguish the events.

As was true 50 years ago, the uprising is a defense of the indefensible. Then the promoted cause was the “right” of communist mass-murderers to impose tyranny over all Indo-China. Today it is the “right” of Hamas terrorists to decapitate Jewish babies with shovels.

There is a long chain of these disturbances. They arise every few years, and their frequency seems to be accelerating. They began with the Watts riots of 1968, continued through the New Left tumults of the late 1960s and 1970s, the 1983 mobs against deployment of defensive missiles in Europe, the 1999 anti-WTO violence, Occupy Wall Street, the “Women’s March,” the 2018 storming of the Supreme Court, Black Lives Matter (BLM)—and on and on.

The mainstream media call these events “protests.” But they are not legal protests.

Legal protests are exercises of our First Amendment freedoms, such as the Tea Party events during the Obama administration. First, you rent a large room or get a permit to assemble in a public space. Then you come together, wave signs, and cheer speakers. Afterwards, you pick up your folding chairs, clean up after yourself, go home, talk to your neighbors, and ship off letters to newspaper editors and politicians.

Leftist upheavals are different, and not just because they have different goals. They are different because of their calculated lawlessness and their disregard for the rights of others. They shut down other people’s First Amendment rights, and routinely engage in criminal activity ranging from misdemeanors (such as mass littering and trespass) all the way up to felonies like arson, robbery, and homicide.

Of course, the people who commit those crimes should be punished—as they all-too-often are not. But the more important point is that these disturbances are almost certainly organized deliberately, and it’s time to bring the organizers to account.

Conspiracy and Racketeering

“Conspiracy” has a specific meaning in criminal law. The crime of conspiracy is participating in a partnership with others to plan and commit another crime.

Criminal lawyers apply the term “racketeering” to mean an organized chain of conspiracies—a continuing course of planning and committing crimes for profit or other personal benefit.

Mass leftist “protests” are routinely marred by crime. Are the events spontaneous? Or are they organized? In other words, do criminal conspiracies and racketeering lie behind them?

There is more than enough evidence to warrant criminal investigation of the subject.

For one thing, these events generally spring up in widely-separated parts of the country at nearly the same time, as a map of the BLM riots shows.

The same national pattern appears in the pro-Hamas disturbances. It beggars belief that inexperienced and unorganized students in locations as disparate as New York, Indiana, and Arizona would decide, at almost the same moment, to demonstrate in precisely the same manner for exactly the same cause. It also beggars belief that students indoctrinated in feminist and LGBTQ+ ideology suddenly would jettison it to side with the fervantly anti-LGBTQ+ Hamas rapists.

Then there is the timing. These events often follow the political calendar. The BLM riots, for example, occurred in 2020, a presidential election year. This was shortly after leftists learned the alarming news that incumbent Republican President Donald Trump was polling surprisingly well among African-American men. If those numbers held, Trump could be re-elected. The message of the nationally organized BLM demonstrations—that whites were racist—helped push African-Americans back to the Democrat plantation.

Now it’s 2024—one more presidential election year, much more leftist disorder. Each presidential candidate needs to win some swing states, and several of those states (Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona) have significant numbers of Muslim voters. Admittedly, some of those voters aren’t too happy with President Biden right now. But many will see Biden’s waffle as better than the pro-Israel, pro-Jewish stance of Trump and nearly all other Republicans. Result: Another electoral plus for the Democrats.

Aside from such deduction, there is plenty of hard evidence of national and even trans-national organization. This goes back many years: I still own a copy of notes taken at a Montreal conference sponsored in the summer of 1972 by the North Vietnamese communists. The conference was held to “educate” and inspire radical student leaders in the United States. A few months later, the notetaker helped lead a 1972 Cornell University building seizure.

As for the current pro-Hamas demonstrations: The New York Post has reported numerous signs of outside support for what the newspaper rightfully calls “Israel hate camps.” Supporting “non-profits” pay protest organizers and provide the trespassers with pricy foodstuffs and other assistance. (Whether they also are being provided with tents is disputed.)

To the extent the protesters violate the law—and most seem guilty at least of criminal trespass—then the organizers may be guilty of conspiracy or racketeering.

Where Are the Prosecutors?

Many commentators have noted the political weaponization of the American justice system, and particularly the targeting of conservatives and Trump supporters. But another side to this weaponization is the privilege of those who do NOT get prosecuted. The occasional trespassing student may be tossed in the clink for a few days. But the contemptible people who induce them to break the law always escape with impunity.

It is high time to break the cycle of chaos. Both federal and state prosecutors should consider conspiracy and racketeering charges against the sponsors of these recurrent spates of lawlessness.

Federal prosecutors’ principal tool for this purpose is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). It authorizes prosecution of those who conspire to commit certain serious crimes, such as terrorism and arson. Of course, there is no chance that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice will undertake such prosecutions, but the attorney general in a future Trump administration should consider it seriously.

RICO does not cover all crimes. Nor should it: In our constitutional system, criminal law is primarily a state responsibility. However, some states have their own RICO statutes. And, to my knowledge, all states have statutes against criminal conspiracies. These laws often are broader than the federal RICO.

For example, section 18-2-201 of Colorado Revised Statutes defines conspiracy this way:

“A person commits conspiracy to commit a crime if, with the intent to promote or facilitate its commission, he agrees with another person or persons that they, or one or more of them, will engage in conduct which constitutes a crime or an attempt to commit a crime, or he agrees to aid the other person or persons in the planning or commission of a crime or of an attempt to commit such crime.”

This is broad enough to catch those who plan and promote any kind of crime, minor or serious.

It’s long past time to use statutes like this to hold leftist conspirators and racketeers accountable for the recurrent sprees of organized violence that mar American life.

Rob Natelson