New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell credits his policy of appeasement with preventing the type of destruction that has occurred in other cities such as Boston and Providence since the advent of Black Lives Matter-inspired protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Appeasement is like dancing with the devil, and it seldom works.

A week ago Wednesday, the so-called protesters who have been allowed a pretty wide berth to exercise their right to free expression in New Bedford held a rally near Brock Avenue and Ruth Street. According to multiple witnesses, the rally was allowed to go on until nearly sunrise on Thursday morning. Residents tell me the protesters were loud, vulgar and disrespectful of the police sent to control the situation.

One resident said he was concerned enough about safety that he relocated his family to a friend's home in another neighborhood.

Multiple witnesses say police were ordered to withdraw from the scene without following through on a threat to arrest protesters who refused to disband. This undermines the authority of the police and makes it more difficult for them to do their job safely in the future. It is appeasement, a sign of weakness. Mitchell tells me the police were simply pulled back a few blocks but were not withdrawn.

Mitchell, while acknowledging that some residents were "inconvenienced" by the ralliers, noted that by allowing them to remain in the streets all night violence was averted. While he denies his policy is to permit the protesters to do what they wish as long as they do not become violent, there is simply no other way to describe it.

Mitchell and Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro have decided that de-escalation through appeasement is the best way to deal with mob rule. Ask left-wing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan how that all worked out for her.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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