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As a Mother, Recent Violence Strikes a Nerve. As an Immigrant, It’s Déjà Vu

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Americans are concerned about their personal security. Protests have turned violent in at least 18 cities across the country—destroying businesses, burning neighborhoods, and threatening bystanders. Most disturbing, the violence isn’t limited to major urban areas. If it can happen in Kenosha, Wisconsin, it can happen anywhere.

As a mother, the spread of violence and lawlessness hits a nerve; I hate that my children are exposed to it. As an immigrant, it’s déjà vu. The parallels between the current violence in the U.S. and where I grew-up in Yugoslavia are troubling.

Just before the Croatian War of Independence began, instances of mob violence broke-out in the region. My brother-in-law was stopped on a country road and harassed by activists. Although he was eventually set free, a similar incident occurred about a week later to another man, but he wasn’t so fortunate. Unlike my brother-in-law, he was tortured.

That was the last straw for my family. A month later, I left the country for good. It may seem silly to compare an eastern European country on the brink of civil war with modern America, but there are more similarities than you think.

In addition to anecdotal examples of domestic rioting projected into living rooms during newscasts, the latest data show instances of violent crime in urban areas are on the rise. According to an analysis from The Wall Street Journal, 13 of the 15 largest cities in the country have experienced a jump in homicides thus far this year compared to the same timeframe in 2019. Austin, Texas and Chicago, Illinois murder rates have risen by more than 50 percent, while the homicide count in five other cities has increased by over a quarter.

The violence should not be tolerated. While President Trump has done what he can to decelerate chaos in the streets, state and local officials ultimately have the authority to address the situation. Unfortunately, too many of them have laid down like a dead dog and, in some cases, made the situation worse. At least 13 cities—including New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Baltimore—have either partially defunded or cut the number of police officers in the department.

Stripping law enforcement of resources is not a policy platform that’s isolated to fringe groups and activist city councils.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden once remarked that some police funding should “absolutely” be redirected. Although the former vice president has since argued against defunding the police, the reversal should raise eyebrows. Meanwhile, President Trump has consistently and unequivocally expressed his support for law enforcement. No wonder the Fraternal Order of Police—the largest law enforcement labor organization in the U.S.—endorsed him.

I came to America with the hopes of a brighter future for myself and my family—a future characterized by safety and economic opportunity. Setting aside recent events, the U.S. has mostly lived up to those expectations. I just hope the current violence is temporary and is not encouraged by the man sitting in the oval office come January 2021.

Dr. Katarina Lindley is a practicing physician in Texas, a Yugoslavian immigrant and a partner of the Job Creators Network Foundation. 

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