But for violent crime, Martin Luther King Jr. might still be alive, like his elder fellow Georgian, Jimmy Carter. Dr. King never reached age 40.  

King’s assassin was racist, repeat felon, James Earl Ray, who should’ve been locked up in a Missouri prison. Properly convicted of armed robbery of a Kroger store, and serving a 20-year habitual criminal sentence, Ray escaped prison in 1967

On April 4, 1968, Ray pointed his Remington Gamemaster rifle out the window of a Memphis bathroom. The assassin fired a .30-06 bullet into America’s great civil rights icon.

Missouri corrections let America down. Effective law enforcement requires dedicated police, prosecutors, judges, lawmakers and corrections officers. When any part of the criminal justice system makes mistakes, bad things happen.

Robert F. Kennedy eulogized MLK that awful April evening, explaining how he understood the temptation to be filled “with hatred and mistrust” because he had such feelings following the assassination of his brother. But RFK urged people to embrace MLK’s message of “love and wisdom and compassion toward one another.” 

Two months later, Bobby Kennedy, age 42, was shot dead in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan. RFK’s assassin remains behind bars, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, 55, recently denied his parole. Nobody can get elected president if they are perceived as too soft on crime. Newsom, a Democrat, may have presidential ambitions.

President Joe Biden, 80, is embroiled in fresh scandal and familial investigations. Shrewd Democrats may be seeking a replacement. Veteran Democratic governors with proven executive branch competence and electoral appeal might become America’s 47th president.

Given his overwhelming 2022 re-election victory, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, 47, fits that bill, and can freely explore becoming America’s chief executive. There were hints at Polis’ second inaugural festivities. A slightly mistimed four-jet military flyover happened.

Polis, with spouse, Marlon, at his side, swore his oath on the Tanakh. Immediately afterwards, Colorado Army National Guard soldiers fired off outrageously loud 21 cannon shots (aiming toward Colfax). Simultaneously, the 101st Army Band played Hail to the Chief, the personal anthem of the president of the United States. 

☀ MORE IN OPINION

Standing on the west steps of the Capitol, in the heart of Denver, Polis told us that democratic elections are nothing to take for granted. Wearing a four-color Colorado flag tie, Polis declared that Colorado wants “real results over partisan ideology.”  

“Here in Colorado, we have our own unique way of doing things,” Polis told the crowd. “We are bold, we’re innovative, we’re results-driven. We strive to respect and expand our freedom. And we choose to make our home here in this state because it’s the best state to live, raise a family and build a great life.”

As for Colorado’s crime problem, Polis proclaimed, “We’re going to tackle crime head on. Yes, by holding criminals accountable, but also by preventing crime before it happens to make our neighborhoods safer. No Coloradans should have to fear for their safety on the streets where they live, in the places where they work and play, and in the schools where our kids go to dream big dreams.”

Recently, Polis has made multiple moves endearing him to non-liberals. Tax savings are always on the tip of his tongue, and he has thus far resisted his own Democratic Party’s reasonable calls for an assault weapon ban. The recent decision to ship migrants to Chicago and New York may benefit Polis in swing states if he’s the Dem’s presidential nominee. 

Crime in Colorado is Polis’ achilles heel that needs repair before he can run a winning presidential race. The Club Q and Boulder King Soopers massacres once again revealed Colorado’s susceptibility to mass murder and hate crimes. Colorado ranking number one in stolen cars is unacceptable. Deadly fentanyl was underestimated. Colorado legislation needs further fixing.

Dangerous career criminals should be incarcerated for as long as possible. Colorado’s national  public safety ranking is below average and sinking. Even though the legislature is full of Dems, expect Polis, and his savvy new chief of staff, former House Speaker Alec Garnett to put the reins on further liberalizing of Colorado’s criminal justice system

The fundamental job of government is to provide public safety. Schooleroo, an apparently apolitical internet publication, recently declared Denver as the worst place in America to raise a family. While the scholarship behind the survey seems dubious, Denver does not feel as safe as it once did. Neither does Colorado. Crime rates are increasing. Police departments are short-staffed.

Back in 1988, violent crime was rising nationally and the Dems nominated Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. The liberal governor was perceived as weak on crime, especially after the Willie Horton ads, and Dukakis’ deadly lack of emotion when he clinically explained how he would still not favor capital punishment even if his wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered.

Civilized societies crave peace, freedom, and justice. We are comforted by MLK’s assurance that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But right now,  enlightened and responsible leaders must improve our justice system. Governors and presidents have great power and this important responsibility.


Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun and an active Colorado trial lawyer with Craig Silverman Law, LLC. He also hosts The Craig Silverman Show podcast.

The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

Craig Silverman

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: craig@craigscoloradolaw.com Twitter: @craigscolorado