Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, has a plan on how to douse the protest violence in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere: Hold local officials responsible for failing to stop it.
Mr. Cruz introduced Wednesday legislation that would “hold state and local officials liable when they abdicate their legal duty to protect the public in cases where death, serious bodily harm or significant property damage have occurred.”
The bill, called the Restitution for Economic losses Caused by Leaders Who Allow Insurrection and Mayhem Act, or RECLAIM, would allow property owners to seek triple damages for protest destruction.
“This is not the American way,” Mr. Cruz said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Local leaders who allow rioters to destroy lives and businesses need to be held accountable.”
The bill would also enable victims in occupied protest zones to take legal action against state or local lawmakers who tolerate or encourage the takeovers, and remove or limit federal grant funding for law-enforcement and criminal-justice programs.
“As public officials, our first responsibility is to protect our fellow citizens,” Mr. Cruz said. “Any politician who willfully ignores that sacred duty is in gross violation of that oath. It’s time to restore civility, hold government officials accountable, and take our cities back.”
He pointed to Portland, where Mayor Ted Wheeler has put up little police resistance to nearly two months of violent rioting, and Seattle, where Mayor Jenny Durkan at one point referred to the June protest takeover of a six-block neighborhood as having a “block party atmosphere.”
The Portland protests, which typically begin as peaceful demonstrations before violent agitators take over each night, have cost downtown businesses an estimated $23 million, while the Seattle no-police-allowed autonomous zone was the scene of two shooting deaths.