It is no longer possible to deny law enforcement actively permitted the violence and chaos during August's Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The only question remaining is whether this was sheer incompetence or whether it was, as some who attended the rally believe, actively desired by local and state governments.
But in the wake of a damning independent report about the incident, not one but two police chiefs involved in the rally are leaving their posts. First up, Charlottesville Police Chief Alfred Thomas. His resignation seems connected to the report, which quoted him as saying "let them fight."
The first African-American police chief of Charlottesville, Virginia, abruptly retired Monday, about two weeks after a scathing independent review criticized his "slow-footed response" to violence at a white nationalist rally this summer.
In a brief statement, the city did not give a reason for Chief Al Thomas' departure, which was effective immediately.
"Nothing in my career has brought me more pride than serving as the police chief for the city of Charlottesville," Thomas, 50, said in the statement. "I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to protect and serve a community I love so dearly."
Earlier this month, a former federal prosecutor hired by the city released a report that was sharply critical of Thomas and other law enforcement officials.
[Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas retires after criticism over rally, NBC News, December 19, 2017]
But he's not the only one. The white superintendent of the Virginia State Police is also resigning. However, we are told this is unconnected to the rally in Charlottesville [The Latest: Virginia State Police superintendent retiring, Star Tribune, December 19, 2017]
It's possible. There is a change in administrations in Virginia coming up, after all. But it's also possible that this change in administrations will result in a more detailed investigation into what happened. Better to get out now, with reputations (and pensions) intact.