Over the past year, we watched America burn. Images of rioters standing in the midst of flames with protesting fist held high were distributed around mainstream media with notations that these would be the images that children in American schools would see in their history books as if it were a proud moment of change for the country.

Many of us cringed as the media excused the behaviors of rioters and equated the burning of innocent people’s livelihoods to necessary social change. Doctors signed letters claiming that the social change occurring was more important than the potential spread of coronavirus which was still a major threat to public health.

My wife and I asked ourselves what kind of world we were living in where these actions could be labeled “mostly peaceful.” These weren’t attacks on authoritarian regimes bent on the oppression of would-be free Americans. These were attacks on neighborhoods and people that had nothing to do with police violence. The summer of 2020 was filled with destruction, murder, and chaos.

On Thursday, we ran a story about the besieging of the U.S. Capitol building. Many who entered did so by committing violence and destruction. Many were let in by the Capitol Police. At the time we went to press, noted in the article, it was 5 p.m. ET. At the time, there was a few scuffles between police and rioters, and there was also people simply milling about the Capitol building as if it were the first time they had ever been inside. Some were snapping selfies with Capitol Police. It was mostly peaceful. In fact, video of people who entered the capitol showed them picking up trash left behind by others. So, mostly peaceful at what cost? Not only should be prosecute the criminals, we should protect the innocent, and we should prevent crime where we find it likely. That is why my wife and I “Back the Blue.” The alternative is not so desirable even if the criminal justice system needs change — which it does.

There was a violent element to our reality, and it led to death and destruction. It happened over the summer, and it happened on Jan. 6 at the capitol. At the time we published our article on Thursday, a woman had been shot , but it was reported at the time she was alive and not in critical condition. No other injuries had been reported.

My wife and I did not support one single violent protest over the summer, nor do we support any violence. We were appalled and dismayed over the summer, and appalled and dismayed about Jan. 6. At the time of our print edition, a person who trespassed into the capitol building was shot. That didn’t seem like an unlikely or violent situation. Indeed, she was breaking the law, climbing through a window into a space where a man was clearly pointing a gun at her. I don’t blame the officer for taking the shot. It was a chaotic and dangerous situation and I would guess from the footage I saw that he warned her plenty of times. She was a threat to his safety and he neutralized it. As Americans, we authorize the use of deadly force to protect the innocent. Violent and threatening people are often shot. In 2019, almost a thousand people were killed by police in America under varying circumstances. Justice should be had.

We mourn the loss of life of her misguided deeds, and we mourn the loss of life of Officer Sicknick who was injured during the besieging of the capitol. The Mayor of Washington D.C. is reported to have declined the assistance offered prior to the protest by the National Guard and the FBI. Over the summer, similar refusals were made by states who were under violent riot.

As nonpartisans, my wife and I have witnessed death and destruction all over our nation that has been the result of a failure of those entrusted to provide for the common welfare. Police have been told to stand down in the face of violent protesters. When they take action, they have been demonized and criticized. As nonpartisans, we watch each side defend itself as if the political agenda or grievance they support is worthy of destruction and death. Media has played cover for both sides.

Now this. We are ashamed by the actions on Jan. 6 just as we have been ashamed of the actions all over the country in 2020, including those here in San Luis Obispo County. Many events have been peaceful, and those are constitutionally protected under the first amendment. But peaceful, and “mostly peaceful” are two extremes. One is protected, and the other is a crime. It is interesting to hear people defend some crime and decry other crime, based on their political position.

Most of us are completely peaceful, understand our constitutional Bill of Rights, and enjoy them. They end where they infringe on another. In California, our constitution includes the defense of property as an inalienable right. We have been assaulted, for a year or more, and it is time to reckon with your support of violence. Violence is not a constitutional right, but in the defense of your own life.

There are people in our world who are not peaceful, or “mostly peaceful,” which is synonymous. We should not, as a country, tolerate “mostly peaceful” protests.

The constitution protects our right to free speech, practice of religion, peaceable assembly, and redress of grievances — we should never put them under threat by confusing them with “mostly peaceful” activities.

If you were upset by our reporting on Thursday, we completely agree with you.

Getting through this together, Atascadero