There are competing goals in the rioting and protesting we see all over the country. The prevailing narrative remains the peaceful expression of outrage against perceived injustices committed by the police. However, it has become clear that protests have been hijacked by those whose intent is anything but peaceful.

Some media networks are desperate to cling to the narrative they wish were true, as are some of our elected officials. The perpetuation of false narratives in pursuit of proving a political view is irresponsible and repulsive, but sadly it is not the most insidious of the operations in play here. The massive undercurrent in all of these riots is that of anarchy, and the anarchists are riding or sometimes even creating the waves of discontent with a singular goal of achieving their dystopia.

Direct action against the government does not accomplish what the anarchists seek to achieve. They are not naïve enough to believe that they can prevail in an all-out war with the government, not even against a municipal police force. Their intent to overthrow the government can only occur if they are able to convince the general population, or a large sympathetic portion of it at least, that their government can no longer protect them.

Burning down a business tells the business owner that the police cannot protect them. Marching down the streets burning cars, breaking windows, and beating lone dissenters creates the image that the anarchists are looking for—your government cannot protect you. This message is important, most people look to the police as guardians. If the government can no longer protect them, there is no reason to support the government.

The greatest wins for the anarchists have been the takeover and burning of police precincts and the establishment of police “no-go” zones. This sent the most powerful message of all—the police can’t protect you because they can’t even protect themselves. The police would not have allowed this to happen if they were not told to allow it by the political leadership. Political gamesmanship allowed the anarchists to tell everyone that they are in charge, to cause the public to question the ability of the government to protect the community. It was disgraceful, and it is a mistake for leftist politicians to believe that this accommodation will make them any less of a target in the anarchists’ revolutionary plan.

Anarchists benefit most from the new mantra to “defund the police” and “reimagine policing.”  Removing training resources (the most effective tool for improving policing) and reducing proactive patrol units from their communities endangers the most vulnerable among us—law-abiding citizens in high-crime communities. They know it’s not that the police can’t protect them; it’s that the politicians won’t.

How this will eventually play out is uncertain. The anarchists have made tremendous strides this time around, capitalizing on the sentiment in many minority communities that they are the subject of adverse policing actions, and exploiting their emotions for their own benefit. It has worked well. No reasonable person was discussing “defunding” or “reimagining” law enforcement six months ago, but now some of our most progressive cities are actually doing itThe Virginia Senate passed a bill that essentially places a target on officer’s backs. I hope these elected officials realize that even the most progressive among them will find no quarter in an anarchist takeover.

Police officers swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, enforce federal, state, and local laws, and protect their communities. At some point, the decision between upholding their oaths and listening to politicians tell them to ignore the lawlessness and violence will dynamically clash. Because they are obligated only to obey lawful orders, it may be only a matter of time before the police decide that there has been enough obstruction of justice and resume holding the line, where that thin blue line separates us from anarchy.