Baltimore Under Siege
Just over a week after a death at the hands of police that remains incredibly suspicious, Baltimore is the sight of violent riots.
Just under ten days ago, a 25 year old man in Baltimore died after being taken into custody by police for reasons that still haven’t been made clear. What has been even less clear to date have been the circumstances of his death, which resulted from a broken neck and possibly other injuries that he sustained some time after being taken into custody but after he was out of the view of the cameras that recorded his initial encounter with police. There have been protests in Baltimore virtually from the day that Gray’s death became public and, on Saturday they became violent enough that fans who were at Camden Yards to watch the Orioles play the Red Sox were kept in their seats for some period of time while police dealt with violent protests outside the stadium. Today, Gray was laid to rest but tensions began to rise when rumors began to spread of plans for attacks on police officers by gang members and, this afternoon protests broke out that quickly turned into a riot that has already caused significant property damage to one area of the city:
BALTIMORE — Police officers in riot gear clashed with rock-throwing youths on Monday in a neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore, hours after Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who has become the nation’s latest symbol of police brutality, was laid to rest amid emotional calls for justice and peace.
At least seven officers were injured and one was “unresponsive,” Capt. J. Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore police told reporters.
The violence broke out in the Mondawmin neighborhood, near the New Shiloh Baptist Church, where friends, neighbors, activists and government officials from the local level to the White House — as well as civil rights leaders like the Jesse Jackson and Dick Gregory — had gathered in the morning to eulogize Mr. Gray.
“We are continuing to deploy resources across the city to respond to reports of violence,” the police said on Twitter. “The safety of our community is our top priority.”
Groups of angry young people surrounded a police cruiser and smashed it in; another cruiser could be seen burning. Several businesses, including a drugstore, a liquor store and a check-cashing store, were looted. Others pelted the police with items picked up at nearby vacant lots — rocks, bricks, boards and chunks of concrete. Some arrests were made.
At least one small fire could be seen in streets filled with debris. Police officers in riot gear could also be seen outside Camden Yards, the baseball field in downtown Baltimore, where the Orioles were scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox. The Maryland State Police said that an additional 40 troopers were joining the 42 troopers already deployed in Baltimore.
Police said earlier in the day that they had received a “credible threat” of violence against law enforcement officers, and Captain Kowalczyk told reporters here that authorities would take “appropriate measures” to keep officers and the neighborhood safe. Warned by the police of possible violence, the University of Maryland campus in downtown Baltimore closed early as did Mondawmin Mall.
“You’re going to see tear gas, you’re going to see pepper balls, we’re going to use appropriate methods to make sure we an preserve the safety of that community,” Captain Kowalczyk said during a televised news conference. “Our officers are working as quickly and as orderly as they can to being about order in the area of Mondawmin.”
A flier circulated on social media called for a period of violence Monday afternoon to begin at the Mondawmin Mall and move downtown toward City Hall.
More from The Baltimore Sun:
Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, seriously injuring several police officers and leaving a store and several vehicles in flames.
At least seven police officers were injured in a clash that began near Mondawmin Mall and spread toward downtown. One officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones, police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said.
Smoke filled the air as police responded with shields and a tactical vehicle. Demonstrators pelted officers with rocks, bricks and bottles and assaulted a photojournalist, and officers fired back with tear gas and pepper balls.
Demonstrators set a police vehicle ablaze at North and Pennsylvania avenues. Nearby, they looted a CVS drug store, which store officials said had already closed, before it caught fire. Rioters cut the fire hose as firefighters battled the blaze.
The unrest spread toward downtown, with looting along Howard and Centre streets as afternoon turned to evening. Another group of people was destroying property around North and Fulton avenues, police said.
Kowalczyk called the demonstrators “lawless individuals with no regard for the safety of people that live in that community” and said they would be identified and arrested. Police said via Twitter many of the rioters were juveniles and urged parents to bring their children home.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard. He was set to speak at Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters at 8:30 p.m.
“Today’s looting and acts of violence in Baltimore will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement. “I strongly condemn the actions of the offenders who are engaged in direct attacks against innocent civilians, businesses and law enforcement officers. There is a significant difference between protesting and violence and those committing these acts will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of
Earlier Monday afternoon, the threat prompted police to urge downtown businesses and institutions to close, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Lexington Market, a city courthouse and businesses including T. Rowe Price and Venable LLP.
Two city recreation centers in West Baltimore, the Robert C. Marshall Recreation Center in Upton and Lillian Jones Recreation Center in Sandtown-Winchester, closed early. All Pratt Library branches closed early.
Public officials condemned the riots.
“For us to come out of the burial and into this, it’s absolutely inexcusable,” said the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, who hours earlier delivered Gray’s eulogy. “Violence is not the answer for justice.”
Bryant said a group of men from the Nation of Islam planned to build a “human wall” to stop the mob from coming downtown. “Violence is not the answer,” he said.
The incident stemmed from a flier that circulated widely among city school students via social media about a “purge” to take place at 3 p.m., starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending downtown. Such memes have been known to circulate regularly among city school students, based on the film “The Purge,” about what would happen if all laws were suspended.
The flier included an image of protesters smashing the windshield of a police car Saturday during a march spurred by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who suffered a spinal cord injury earlier this month after being arrested by city police.
Kowalczyk would not speculate on whether the incident was related to Gray’s death.
While officials had expected additional protests on the same day Gray was mourned and buried, the scale of the unrest took them by surprise, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings told CNN.
“We never expected anything like this,” he said.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake activated the city’s emergency operation center just before 6 p.m. to coordinate response to the riots.
Police were preparing for rioting to make its way downtown, with officers in helmets and carrying shields stationed at Lexington Market and the Inner Harbor. Maryland State Police sent 40 troopers to the city, said Keiffer Mitchell, a top aide to Gov. Larry Hogan. Several other jurisdictions, including Baltimore and Howard counties, sent officers to assist.
All but one gate to Oriole Park at Camden Yards was closed, with a game set to begin at 7:05 p.m. But team officials postponed the game less than an hour before first pitch was scheduled.
As was the case during the riots that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri last August, it seems fairly clear that the rioting and violence that we are seeing in Baltimore today, and that we saw on Saturday night near Camden Yards, is largely the work of people using the protests as cover for their own nefarious goals. Some of the reports regarding the planned protests for today have suggested that the city’s gangs have actually banded together to use today’s protest as a cover to attack police officers, for example. More importantly, the community leaders who have been part of the peaceful protests that have been going on since Gray’s death on April 19th, along with Gray’s family members, have been quick to denounce the violence and ask for it to come to an end. It likely won’t, of course, and the fact that it has gotten out of hand so quickly likely means that law enforcement will find itself forced to use a heavy hand to restore order, something which may prove difficult to keep under control as we approach nightfall in Baltimore. More than likely, though, it will take more than one night to bring order to this situation.
There is, quite obviously, no excuse for violence and looting such as what we’re seeing unfold in Baltimore tonight, and the willful destruction of property is utterly senseless. One of the first businesses to be looted in this neighborhood, for example, one of the first businesses attacked by rioters was a CVS that one could tell even from the aerial shots being broadcast on CNN was a relatively new business, likely only a few years old at the most. Over the course of less than twenty minutes, one could see the entire store being trashed, windows busted out, and merchandise being carried out by people who obviously didn’t care very much what what happening to the neighborhood. Less than an hour later, that building was on fire, and when the fire department came out to try to put out the fire, with a CNN reporter standing right there, two people who had their faces covered came up and cut the firehouse’s connection to the hydrant. That’s just one example of what’s been happening in that city.
None of this is to excuse what happened to Freddie Gray, of course. Based on the information that has come out so far, it seems quite apparent that the officers involved in his arrest, all of whom are currently suspended, acted at the very least with reckless disregard for his life, and possibly worse. Additionally, the Baltimore Police Department itself apparently has a long history of abuses and bad relations with the community that are no doubt fueling much of what we are seeing unfold now. All of that needs to be addressed. However, none of that justifies, rioting, looting, and actions that place the lives of others in danger. I suspect that the people in Baltimore who actually care about what happened to Freddie Gray, and actually care about their neighborhoods know this. Unfortunately, they are being overshadowed by a bunch of thugs right now.
Photo via The Baltimore Sun
An interesting reaction from the COO of the Orioles…
Not to excuse what is happening, but black people are dying. Somehow or other tho, we don’t get upset until other people start losing their “property.”
Heartbreaking. All of it.
Isn’t it possible to be concerned about both?
The death of Freddie Gray was a tragedy and justice needs to be done. I absolutely agree with that.
But there is no logic, reason, or justification, for rioting, looting, and violence, that does nothing more than cause more harm to the neighborhoods where the most aggrieved citizens of Baltimore already live. And, there’s no justification for the threats of the gang-bangers against members of law enforcement.
I’m with you, but I disagree with this…
I think there is most definitely a certain logic behind it. Smarter people than me will be able to go deeper with it, but I see this as the lashing out of a community with literally no other outlets. I can’t condone the violence, but at the same time, I can’t say that I really understand what that community is living. Nor can the people getting more upset about broken windows than broken spines.
I would agree with you to some extent, except for the fact that I’m seeing reporters from the local stations and from CNN interviewing people who actually live in this neighborhood saying that they don’t want this happening where they live
I hear you. I have no answers.
I dunno. If I was black, and I knew that the police could harass/beat/kill me and my loved ones, more or less with impunity, I might be ready to get violent.
Doug, this is perfectly logical, just like a fever with the flu. Riots like this are a symptom of an underlying pathology. A byproduct of oppression and neglect. Every time you see a riot like this you’ll find years and often decades of past abuses. The violence is regrettable but it’s also inevitable.
I watched this unfold on CNN all day. I was hoping, for once, the protesters would try something different.
But no, just the same old rabble rousers, burning down pharmacies and asking themselves, “How come nothing ever changes?”
“April 22nd, 1992.
There was a riot in the streets.
Where were you?”
If you surrender authority and are left with only naked power you risk having people test that power.
This is about race but also about the enduring stupidity, brutality and unfairness of the so-called Drug War. We need to legalize pot and decriminalize other drugs and treat the issue as what it is: a public health problem. That alone would dramatically reduce the number of interactions between cops and citizens. It would also greatly reduce the number of people in prison, weaken the gangs and reduce the absurd militarization of the police.
We need a very clear, three tier approach to law enforcement. Violent crime should be treated very seriously with tough sentences; non-violent property crime should be treated seriously but with rational sentencing plus programs for diversion and training; lifestyle crimes – drugs, gambling, voluntary and non-coerced prostitution — are not areas for the cops to be involved.
Those are priorities that the community will get behind. Rational laws reasonably and professionally enforced will restore police authority.
Well, see, that’s the thing. We have the luxury of seeing that there is no rational reason for it because we are in rational states. We have not, as a class, been subjected to poverty, deprivation, injustice, and silence from those we’ve been told are authorities meant to address such problems. All the rational avenues are exhausted. There is only the irrational left to those for which no rational response has gotten adequate recompense.
The great genius of nonviolent resistance is it draws attention to the human element: when there is no resistance from one side, you cannot abstract that into a conflict with two if not equal than certainly opposing sides. You must necessarily confront it as one human doing inherently unjust things to another human who bears it, surrendering their will to the state as both acquiescence and protest to the state’s use of authority. The great weakness that those who advocated nonviolent resistance never imagined is perceptual: as long as you perceive these things in terms of property damage being more important than the ongoing spiritual and physical degradation of human lives for arbitrary reasons (which can be anything as passé as a concern about the distinction between actors with more at stake and actors acting on whim to something serious like a scholarly consideration of historical and cultural patterns that lead to violence), you can’t construe resistance to the status quo as legitimate if it takes form outside of approved channels. They didn’t think nonviolent resistance would become mainstream.
Which is a tragedy in the end, apart from the many other tragedies that have led to this moment.
@OzarkHillbilly: cops kill more whites- it’s just not a “story” as whites don’t seem to collectively go on a rampage at the drop of a hat these days. @James Pearce: great point, it’s like they don’t teach history anymore.
It’s not at the drop of a hat you maroon, it’s an inevitable result of year after year, decade after decade of abuse, degradation, humiliation, violence and murder at the hands of police — something whites do not experience.
@bill: Dude, white people riot over sports, literally the most trivial frickin’ thing in the universe next to justice and injustice on societal scales. Holy hell, Penn State students (at a glance mostly white) rioted when Paterno was implicated for “covering up” child abuse, literally causing property damage over criminal neglience at best.
White people riot over stupid things and the riots are dismissed as stupid. Other people riot over systemic abuse and are dismissed as thugs. WTF?!
@Doug Mataconis: But justice won’t be done. And next week it will happen again. I’m a white, middle aged woman in Kansas and I trust “gang banger” justice more than I do the police.
@michael reynolds: Arguably, you said it better.
The perceptual bubble is real though, and not just some conservative complex others are immune to. I was gleefully watching 3rd Rock From the Sun on Netflix but an hour ago, something between relaxed and doing fine* as is my wont. There’s a scary lack of necessity for current events information among a good sector of the population. This is all going to be a surprise to a lot of people. That alone is going to build inertia to needed changes, and it’s going to be a weird kind of pain that comes out of it.
* I have no clue why the song at the end is covered up by vuvuzela.
At a certain point…logic and justification no longer apply. You and I have never been oppressed a single day…much less every day of our lives.
“nefarious goals”: Just as in Ferguson and other places, there is a well planned, armed, trained, financed,and organized band of violent, outside extremists sent in to the city of Baltimore. The purpose is violent insurrection and to create instability. What should have been done a few days ago was to send in the National Guard. The streets should be cleared immediately. Rioters should be arrested, with a complete investigation, by the F.B.I., HS, and NSA of where they are from, who is behind them, and what their chain of command is, all the way to the top. In Ferguson and other cities, they have been allowed to disappear back into the “forest”. And as was stated, they are using “racism” as a cover for their violent actions.
For those who want to legitimately and peacefully demonstrate, some sort of arena or empty lot could be set aside for this purpose.
Make no doubt about it: this is an attack on the stability of this country.
“This country was under siege”: Joseph Califano, Johnson cabinet member discussing the riots of the 1960’s. Both Johnson and Hubert Humphrey expressed their belief that the urban riots of the ’60’s were staged and carried out by the communists, probably with backing straight from Moscow and Peking.
Not buying it. I grew up in Baltimore. Poverty is endemic in a lot of places, and while it might not be the PC thing to say, I still spend a decent amount of time in Baltimore, and many of their problems are at least to some extent of their own making.
Baltimore had some 300 murders last year, the vast majority of them black on black killings, but this unfortunate incident is what they’re rioting about.
I get that they have problems, but no society can tolerate this sort of destructive temper tantrum – no matter what motivated it. Hogan has now called out the National Guard, and I’m hearing from friends in the city that an arrest on sight curfew goes into effect tomorrow night. That seems to me to be the correct response.
Oppressive government ultimately breeds a violent response. I recall these words (link):
Who said that? National Review, comparing Cliven Bundy to George Washington. So they’re probably making similar comments now about Baltimore, right?
This sort of temper tantrum is the only thing that can get a complacent, info-bedazzled society to pay attention. They protested peacefully and nonviolently the death of Freddie Gray and the reluctance of city officials to release any information about the circumstances of his death for a week before these riots broke out. The official response has been slow, and the police union response has fanned the flames. This was something they poorly-handled blowing up in their faces, not some spontaneous riot by a black population incapable of prioritizing its own community’s needs.
Then again, I’m on multiple drugs and a haze is coming over me, and I’m going off what at best are specious reports sensationalized for the political junkie at this point. This is just my immediate reaction. The operating mantra with this sort of stuff is to judge slowly.
Like I said before, I can not, under any circumstances, condone these people burning down buildings and wounding cops. I honestly don’t care what their grievances might be – this is NOT the way to address them.
I’m hearing from friends who are close to the situation down there that there is one Baltimore City police officer who is still non-responsive and hasn’t regained consciousness. The jury is out on whether he’ll live or not, and in light of that, any sympathy these people might otherwise have garnered from me for their (largely self-inflicted) plight goes out the window. Hell man, they’re cutting hoselines and potentially putting firefighters’ lives at risk. Are they somehow being oppressed by the BFD and want to kill firefighters as well now?
And now that pimp Sharpton is apparently going to be showing up soon. That’ll certainly improve the situation …
Nah, just not buying it. SRB called it correctly – this is thugs being thugs, nothing else.
I couldn’t agree more.
What do we want? Justice!!
How do we get it? Burn and loot the CVS!!
No society is tolerating it. They’re imposing a curfew and bringing in the National Guard.
As for this being self-inflicted, you’re falling into fallacy. You’re treating “them” as a single entity. There’s a video up of a mother smacking hell out of her son who she caught rioting and looting. Is this riot her fault? Black people are not some unified “them,” they are individuals with individual levels of guilt or innocence. There are not millions rioting in the street, there are hundreds or at best a couple thousand which means the vast majority of “them” are not rioting but sitting at home watching it on TV, same as we are except that they’re a lot more scared since it’s happening right outside their door.
And what are black people in Baltimore supposed to do about “black-on-black” violence? Call the police, who have no reputation for protecting black people and an impressive record of assaulting and murdering poor black people? A poor black mother in west Baltimore lives in a lawless society. What is she supposed to do about it? Is she supposed to testify against her friendly neighborhood Crip and then return to a part of the city that government has abandoned to the gangs? Who’s going to keep her alive?
I guarantee you that Baltimore – like every other major city – sends its least capable officers into the ghetto and reserves their better cops for patrolling white areas. And I guarantee you that the number of cops per square mile is a hell of a lot higher down at Harborplace than in the high-crime areas. And I’ll guarantee you that if I step out of the downtown Four Seasons and call 911 to deal with an aggressive panhandler I’ll get a squad car a hell of a lot faster than if our project mom calls 911 to report a suspected rape or strong-arm robbery.
Who the hell’s fault is it if parts of Baltimore has been ceded to criminal gangs? Is that the mother’s fault? This is bullshit blaming the poor and vulnerable for the results of thuggish police and indifferent city government. Poor people don’t have lawyers. Poor people don’t have police. Poor people don’t have money to buy politicians. Poor people are straining every nerve just to survive and may not have the time after working for minimum wage all day and spending two hours on buses to go out and patrol their neighborhoods all night.
You know I respect your opinions and the expertise you bring, but I’m going to guess you’ve never been poor. I have. It’s not a difference of degree, it’s a difference of kind. Their lives are not your life minus some money, their lives are struggle and scarcity and constant fear. It is the job of government to do something about the situation not to just show up when the drug store starts to burn.
If you let chronic conditions fester they sometimes turn into life-threatening illnesses. It’s not a surprise.
Note: “them” = these thugs rioting and burning shit down, not the good folk (the majority of them AA) whose lives and property are at risk now.
As for government doing something, I’m not unsympathetic, but what more would you have it do? We’ve spent trillions since the ’60s “fighting poverty”, and what’d we get? More poverty.
No amount of money, by itself, is going to instill the drive and ambition required to lift these people out of their situation. They can’t do it on their own, obviously, but they DO have to participate in the process. As far as I can tell, they instead choose to adopt the attitude that they’re owed something. Unfortunately, they haven’t figured out that first and foremost they owe themselves something, so the cycle perpetuates itself.
That having been said though, like I said above, regardless of their legitimate complaints, I can not condone their tactics. My nephew is a firefighter in Baltimore, so this is real for me in a way that it probably isn’t for many others here. I won’t be getting much sleep tonight.
And when the fury was over
And shame was replacing the anger
“So wrong, so wrong
But we’ve been down so long
And we had to make somebody listen.”
In the Heat of the Summer
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
I’m watching the destruction on TV and just can’t believe it. These are thugs, not peaceful protesters. They are looting and burning down their own neighborhoods. Even a dog knows better than to make a mess in their crate.
The mother that smacked her rioting teenager around? Kudos to her. She needs to win a parenting award. The Baltimore police chief just said he wished there were more parents like her.
You could have stopped right there, because that’s the point. You’re watching because it’s on TV, and it’s on TV because it’s violent. Violence gets on TV. “We had to make somebody listen.”
And if they were “peaceful protesters,” they probably wouldn’t be on TV, and you probably wouldn’t be “watching.”
No, they don’t. You don’t have much experience with dogs. And why do you think this is a fair comparison? Was there no other comparison to make except for the one that has been made for so long? Could you be more creative in your dehumanization, please?
Fight violence with violence. That’s a perfect solution. It sounds like the solution of someone who has never experienced any violence at all. Why couldn’t that mother do something less violent? Why do you and whoever else think the solution is to beat a kid?
Protester were those that walked with Dr. King. These people are not protesters. This is a bunch of opportunistic thugs rioting and looting. Dr. King would be ashamed of these people.
Of course calling them looters is “dehumanizing”, so instead I’ll call them undocumented bargain hunters.
Just a question, since I want to be clear on this matter:
Judging from the thumbs counts, am I to discern that you guys approve of their tactics? You’re OK with them setting buildings on fire (64 of them, at last count, according to my nephew) and looting stores?
There is no wishy-washy middle ground there. Either you condemn the tactics or you approve of them, so which is it?
If your kid is looting a pharmacy, what would you suggest is the appropriate response? A time out? Singing Kumbahyah and eating S’mores?
Seriously, how would YOU respond to the situation?
It’s the ‘them” issue. When has there ever been a protest that this has not happened? Why focus on this aspect instead of the other “them” who are pleading for it not to deconstruct to this?
Of course no one is okay with it. Can’t we also not be okay with what you have said?
I hope to hell you don’t have kids. Is there no middle ground between hitting your kid and coddling?
Jesus, my neighbor found a way, why can’t you?
Seriously. Talking to you kids makes more sense than smacking them around and then telling them to stop crying. YMMV.
As I said above , “them” = looters and people setting fires. They’re the immediate problem. What would you prefer to focus on?
No, because you don’t get off that easy. There is no “well, they shouldn’t be doing that, the poor dears, but they’re oppressed (whatever that really means), so we’ll just tsk tsk and hope they get it out of their system”.
That’s, if you’ll pardon my French, bullshit. These people are engaging in violent behavior. They are destroying property and putting lives at risk. Meanwhile you’re fretting about a violent response. What sort of response do you prefer? Be specific.
I have three, and I have to tell you, if one of them was looting a pharmacy or engaging in looting or some other form of violent behavior, I’d react the same way that this mother did. You deliver a response that is appropriate relative to what you’re responding to. It’s the difference between being a parent and being a friend.
And you didn’t answer the question. If that had been YOUR kid out there masked up and ready to rumble, how would you have responded?
You gotta feel for like the Koch brothers junior staffer who’s tasked with trying to figure out how to spin all this riot nonsense into a case that we should eliminate capital gains taxes
End the war on drugs. It harms society, particularly the poor and people of color, more than the drugs do. Stop tolerating police brutality. Stop regarding black males as human grist for the mill that is the prison industrial complex.
No argument. The war on drugs is pointless, but ending it is not going to change the reality of these peoples’ daily lives much, and I think you’re intelligent enough to know that.
I don’t tolerate police brutality. I think that charges against the officers involved in Grey’s death are probably appropriate. That having been said, they roll out and face war zones every day, and the sad reality (however uncomfortable or non-PC it might be to say it) is that poor people commit more crimes, and blacks are inordinately poor, so they tend to disproportionately commit crimes.
I feel sympathy for their situation, but I condemn these tactics. Frankly, they’re burning up a lot of goodwill they otherwise would have received.
No, I wouldn’t hit or beat either of them. I guess I am a coddling parent. I really don’t think violence produces much more than violence. Perhaps your kids are more scared of you than respectful, but that’s your choice in parenting.
In this thread, you have lost my respect. You may not care, but if you have hit your kids, they have probably lost respect for you as well. Ask them.
I assure you that I don’t care in the least. I’m a parent, not a friend, but thank you for your opinion.
They’re all three honor students and pretty well-adjusted kids. I don’t hit my kids as a rule because I DON’T HAVE TO, but I assure you, if they were to go off the deep end like that kid did, I have no problem in the slightest knocking them back into reality. Situations like that are where the proverbial rubber of being a parent meets the road – not when it’s easy. When it’s hard, so yea, I’d do whatever it took to stop him. If that includes knocking his block off, then so be it.
The alternative is them being arrested or me attending a funeral, and I assure you, I don’t like either one of those options either.
While I abhor the violence and looting I must admit I can’t imagine what life must be like for these people. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood, went to the premiere public school in the city – I think there were perhaps 4 students of color out of a 1000. Many if not most of us went to college. Upon graduation – in the middle of the Vietnam war – I did spend 3 years in the military but had a cushy job and never got anywhere near SE Asia. After leaving the military I got a good job as an engineer, a job I held for nearly 40 years. I raised a family in a largely white middle to upper middle class neighborhood. The truth is I never had to lift myself by my bootstraps. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth but it was at least a brass one. I was good at my job and worked hard often putting in 60 hours a week but the opportunity was presented to me from birth.
I can’t condone the violence but at the same time I can’t comprehend the life the people in this Baltimore neighborhood are forced to live.
There is a reason for all of the stereotypes about cops. Have you ever gone on a ride along? Watching is boring. Getting some action is all about making it.
Your privileged is showing.
Come on, HL. That’s about as fair as a statement as saying you’re pro-police brutality because your currently voiced cares are about the establishment out there fighting the fires. I get you have family out there right now but please take a step back to look a little more objectively at what the thread’s saying. No one is pro-violence or pro-fire. You keep talking about how to deal with the immediate issue where everyone is talking about how to keep more issues like this from happening in the first place. We don’t have answers for the immediate solution; if we did, it wouldn’t be going on right now. What we can offer is options to prevent repeats.
There was a horrible analogy up thread about dogs in crates. Think about it like this: if you had a dog that’s been beaten, abused, kicked and generally treated like shit its whole life suddenly lashed out and bit someone hard… is the answer to beat it again? Maybe it bites it’s abuser, maybe it bites the innocent kid down the street. The kid’s done nothing to deserve the attack but is it the dog’s fault or the owners? Do you demand putting the dog down because of “violence” or do you punish the one who cause the scenario in the first place? The firefighters, CVS and the citizens of Baltimore are the “kid” in this – caught up in a drama not of their own making and not their fault. It’s not fair to them but pinning all the blame and negativity on the “dog” misses the point. Unless you do something about the abusive “owner”, there will be more and more incidents with “dogs” and “kids” that just end in tragedy all around.
And I am happy to read yours. Let’s not get into a competition about whose kid is better. I’m quite sure that yours are better than mine. My kids are average and do okay in school. Neither will ever get into a major college. However, they are okay with themselves and hope to contribute to the bettering of life for those not so fortunate as them.
What do your kids want to do, be the next Koch brothers? What if you beat them more than you expected to? What then?
And your experience in this area derives from what precisely?
Former prosecutor here. I’ve gone on quite a few ridealongs, and I’ve seen this mess from the reality side of the fence. Remind me again how/where you became acquainted with the daily reality of a cop’s life?
Jackson Browne remains relevant decades later….
On the radio talk shows and the T.V.
You hear one thing again and again
How the U.S.A. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can’t take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire
Precisely what they turned out to be – happy, well-adjusted young adults. My kids aren’t perfect. One nearly drove me to drink with his sexual escapades, but all in all, they’ve turned out exactly like I hoped they would.
What gives you the idea that I do beat them? As I said, I’ve never had to, because their behavior has never warranted it.
Like I said above, if it comes down to one of my kids being arrested or killed, or me having to knock them back into reality, that’s a no brainer. I’ll do it any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Could you point those out to me above? I’m not necessarily disagreeing, but the thread above sounds a great deal to me like rationalization of the now, not options for prevention.
Last time I checked, criminals have rights too.
Of course they do, which is why we presume their innocence, provide them with attorneys at no cost and give them trials instead of just locking them up on the spot.
That doesn’t change the underlying reality that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are incarcerated derives to a degree most people do not want to acknowledge from the fact that they disproportionately commit crimes.
I get WHY they commit them, but why is secondary. They’re still committing an awful lot of crime. Fixing that unavoidably roots itself, to varying degrees, with them accepting responsibility for their own reality. They don’t have to do it alone, but as I said above, they do have to be involved.
Certainly, my friend. A quick read grants minimizing/ending the War of Drugs came from several posters. Getting seriously tough on police brutality has come up as well. Micheal suggested restructuring criminal offenses into a tiered system that would drop “moral” or “lifestyle” crimes down and out of police involvement. There’s more but it’s getting kinda late for me so I’m not rereading the whole thing for details.
No worries. I think tonight is stressful for you in more ways then one. I think it’s hitting too close to home so the objectivity you normally display is kinda absent here. I would also venture your profession is giving a view into the proceedings markedly different from others here – a lawyer is tied to the law (and law enforcement) in a more profound way then a writer or engineer or account manager. You’ve probably never had to fear the police like some people here have. Granted they’re not concrete step by step plans but please don’t dismiss them as “rationalizing”. These are not pie in the sky dreams but ideas that can be actionable with the time and effort. Society not listening to and acting on the complaints of the people in question is a prime reason things are on fire tonight.
Have a better night and may your loved ones and everyone else in Baltimore be safe and hale. Try to get some sleep, ok? Worrying helps no one but your future ulcers 🙂
Except when we instead beat them to death, or just shoot them dead. Saves all that bother.
You can’t separate tonight’s events from that reality. If you’re going to ask “why can’t they stop this senseless destruction?” you need to also ask “why can’t the police stop killing unarmed black men?”.
Nobody here is pro-riot, pro-looting, pro-arson. But it’s possible to understand without condoning. Not every explanation is an excuse.
Have non-violent protests worked in this country in the last 40 years? Peaceful protesters have been ignored, and pushed out of the system, so what do you expect to happen?
I’m not so sure about that “because drugs” is a wonderful catch all for the police that empowers quite a bit of the abuse we are seeing.
@KSMom: You trust “gang banger justice more than you do the police?” good. Next time you’re attacked, robbed, or had your property vandalized call a gang member.
You laugh, but policing the community is a time-worn function of the criminal underworld.
Go to Don Vito’s house, call him Godfather. He’ll help when the authorities won’t.
Doug: “What has been even less clear to date have been the circumstances of his death, ”
When a handcuffed prisoner’s neck is snapped, the circumstances are quite clear – murder, in the first degree.
Doug: “, it seems fairly clear that the rioting and violence that we are seeing in Baltimore today, and that we saw on Saturday night near Camden Yards, is largely the work of people using the protests as cover for their own nefarious goals. Some of the reports regarding the planned protests for today have suggested that the city’s gangs have actually banded together to use today’s protest as a cover to attack police officers, for example. ”
Where ‘seems fairly clear’ means ‘with no evidence whatsoever’.
@Doug Mataconis: “The death of Freddie Gray was a tragedy and justice needs to be done. I absolutely agree with that.”
No, or you would have called for that, first and foremost, with comments on the riots as a side affair.
Show me the front page headline post on this blog, under your name, calling for the arrest, trial and execution of the officers who committed this murder.
I get that they have problems, but no society can tolerate this sort of destructive temper tantrum – no matter what motivated it.
I’ve been busy with other things. The fact that I haven’t written a blog post doesn’t mean anything.
What do you expect from HL on this. He was a former Baltimore City Prosecutor. Part of the system that perpetuated decades long abuses that are now being detailed in the need. It’s not in human nature to readily admit it’s been part of something like this.
I must say, I am sympathetic to their cause, but I was at the Orioles game Saturday night and had my two young step-daughters with me. We were having dinner at Frank and Nic’s, right next to the stadium when a police barrier crashed through the window about 15 feet away from our table. We saw the trouble outside and I had walked over to that window to take a look, so I was literally two feet from the window when it was smashed. Luckily I was not hurt but we hustled all the kids (it’s a family restaurant) into the ladie’s room until the crowd had passed (breaking about 3 or 4 more large windows along the way). The girls were terrified, shaking and crying. Considering the stadium was probably the safest place around, we went to the game anyway (walk off home run in the tenth for the O’s!). Of course we were told not to leave the stadium but it was all clear by the end of the extra inning. It was a tense but uneventful walk back to our car. By the way, not a single cop in sight during that whole ordeal. I was shocked that they would allow this to go on in the tourist area of the city. Not so shocked that they let them burn down their own neighborhood yesterday. There are rumors about them heading to more suburban area malls today. We’ll see what kind of response that garners. Hopefully it won’t come to pass.
You can dismiss them as thugs, but then we are creating an awful lot of thugs. Not a whole lot of father’s out there collecting their children, probably because they are in jail themselves. Some of their kids will be joining them there soon and the cycle continues.
Meanwhile my family has returned to our home in Western Massachusetts (Red Sox fans, we almost had our own riot) and I will be joining them on Thursday. Looking forward to the peace and quiet of Crackerville.
Back in the day, this was how the underclasses got justice. Authority actively didn’t care about you unless you had power or money. If you were poor, black, an immigrant or someone proper society frowned upon the police weren’t your friend….. but the mafioso would be interested for a price. Hell, the concept of professional police as a governmental force is relatively young. NYPD as a professional institution dates back to Christmas 1828 after a riot from the poor over inequality and mistreatment during the Robber Baron days. Gangs as protectors in modern times (mercenary ones, but still) is not at all far-fetched.
Don’t forget to watch The Wire if you haven’t already. It’s mandatory viewing for anyone that wants to understand the plight of poor people in Baltimore City.
No offense to you and yours (thank god everyone was ok! How frightening!) but why do think the “tourist” area deserves special protection – indeed, why should society? One of the reasons a riot evokes such terror in the general populace is it means everyone is a potential target and all the sacred cows (tourists, business district, government buildings, mom and pop stores) are all equal in terms of getting damaged. The violence is no longer confined to “that area over there” but can now be anywhere. Carefully constructed social barriers mean nothing in the wake of the mob.
Think of how afraid you were for just a few hours. Now imagine that spread out over every day of your life coupled with the fact that the police’s concern is for the tourist area instead of your neighborhood. Can you see why some people are so desperate to change things?
I recommend everyone read this article, Running with Predators, that discusses a recent sociologists’s book on her (young white woman) living in the Philadelphia “ghetto” and hanging with some of the more active residents of the neighborhood. And yes, the article is by Heather McDonald. But if you read it, you’ll see the sociologist excuses these residents and blames the system with their warrants for missed court dates and failure to appear. Short shrift is given to those residents who already observe a curfew in order to avoid the dangers the “active” residents pose after dark.
How’s this apply to Baltimore? Well, Baltimore has been under Democratic Party control since 1967. And that means, little has been done in the last 48 years to help the law-abiding poor or to put an end to the “poor victims” who prey upon them. But there are still individuals who due to their economic circumstances have to live under the threats of the Progressives’ “poor victims” while trying to avoid being robbed, murdered, raped, AND police hassles. Those people are now seeing their jobs burned and their local pharmacy burned. They’ll have to travel further for their prescriptions now that the “poor victims” have been allowed to run amok.
@KM: Absolutely, and I intend to talk about that to my step-daughter’s when I get home. I’ll tell them that as scared as they were for those few minutes is how some people live their entire lives. No police around? That’s daily life for them.
My point was that the leaders of the city have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion that parts of the city are safe. To allow that curtain to be pulled back, even for a moment as it was on Saturday can have a long lasting effect. Now some people will wonder if it is safe to go to a ball game. Maybe when Camden Yards is in need of replacing some day the new stadium won’t be built in the city. When people are planning vacations they will skip right over Baltimore. So I’m shocked because the politicians and police allowed the optic of a knife-wielding rioter confronting an Orioles fan and now its burned into people’s brains.
Well, if they wanted change, they’d stop voting Democrat.
Back in the late ’90s, a police officer friend worked the roughest areas of town. In this instance, one of the projects. (And no, MR, he was one of the most trained, most experience officers in the city as was his partner, not the least qualified as your fevered brain imagines) Working with the older residents of the project, they forced the gangs and drug dealers out using trespassing and loitering laws as well as rules such as requiring the girls who let these guys use their apartments be present when they had “guests”. So things got good for the poor, but law abiding, residents. One elderly woman, whose apartment was above the brick line was able for the first time in years to sleep in her bed instead of the floor without the worry of a stray bullet.
Well, then along came the Clinton administration Department of Housing and Urban Development with an edict that all the government housing projects across the land must follow the same centrally-mandated rules. Within 2 years, the project was back to a shooting gallery. I think they recently bulldozed the place and sold it to developers.
That is Democrat control for you.
With all the love shown here for that quote from the Oriole’s COO, I can only assume that most of the commenters here will not support Hillary Clinton (supporter of globalization) nor certainly Martin O’Malley (directly involved in the leadership of this city that needed better economic stewardship over the last 20 years) should he challenge her.
So who the heck are you guys supporting in ’16?
@CStanley: The Democratic leadership in Baltimore has done a great job of re-inventing our city for the 21st century. It wasn’t their fault that the manufacturing base left for China. Unfortunately, the people in question are not trained for a 21st century economy so are being left behind. Baltimore in general has vastly improved economically in the 30 years that I have lived here, but West Baltimore has been left behind. At least they
havehad a CVS now.
Thanks for the reasonable response.
” Unfortunately, the people in question are not trained for a 21st century economy so are being left behind.”
On whom do you assign the blame for that?
Ah, here come the thumbs. I’ll have to leave my internet connection soon too so you guys get ready and chuckle at me doing a “hit and run.”
On a serious note, I’ll try to check back later to see if there is anything other than partisan talking points.
Because every cop in every Republican controlled city has never even farted in the wrong direction, let alone acted atrociously towards the citizens they’re being paid to protect. Because there’s no bad parts of town in Con-ville or places that backslide despite good intentions. Like this doesn’t happen every-damn-where in this country and has for decades – no no, it’s all the Democrats fault, not the institution itself and its mindset.
I’d ask if you have shame but it’s fairly clear you would have choked on it by now.
Especially because in certain places the police are looking more and more like a mercenary gang whose job is to protect the non-poor.
But there’s a certain logic to this. Adam Smith explained a long time ago that a core function of government is the protection of those with “valuable and extensive property:”
There is a natural tendency for government to primarily concern itself with the interests of the rich. When this tendency is unchecked the ultimate result is that the “indignation of the poor” becomes something worse than indignation.
If you ever post something other than “partisan talking points” it will be a first for you.
@KM: Is the urban problem that there aren’t enough cops or that there are too many? The situation around Camden Yards escalated because there wasn’t any police protection. But a lot of people have been saying that urban areas are over-fortified with police, cracking down on everything. We’re told about the disproportionate number of black arrests, but we’re also told that the police don’t keep the streets safe. I get the feeling we’re talking in circles in order to avoid diagnosing the problem: there are bad people, most of whom aren’t cops, who are making Baltimore unlivable.
@James: You’re being dismissive of the one person who knows this situation best, because of his knowledge of the situation.
And now they have closed that mall today as a precaution. I hear they are sending the federal employees that work nearby home early as well (SS Administratrion and Medicare offices).
And the Orioles vs White Sox game has been cancelled for the second straight night. Can’t have a night baseball game with a 10pm curfew. Not sure how they are going to play any games unless they move them to the daytime or play at Nationals Park while they are out of town.
If you take both of these statements at face value (“there’s a disproportionate number of black arrests” & “the police don’t keep the streets safe”), there’s no contradiction. The police arrest a lot of black people, and it doesn’t improve anything. This would suggest the police are screwing up in performing basic functions since keeping us safe from criminal acts through deterrence or arresting culprits in retribution is their entire bag.
Maybe they’re arresting the wrong people, or arresting people for reasons more than crime.
I have never been a Baltimore City prosecutor. Please don’t speak about my life.
How’s your nephew? Everything good?
Home safe after 29 straight hours, thank G-d. They had their hoselines slashed while they were actively trying to put out fires and their engine got hit with a concrete block on the way to another fire. He’s about fed up and ready to just let it burn, and on some level I can’t say that I blame him.
And what of the daily reality of a minority living in a poor inner city neighborhood…who here is acquainted with that life…
Oh? Jim Crow was just a myth? Slavery wasn’t real? Redlining and reverse redlining never happen? Before you decide to write anymore ridiculous comments, perhaps you should pick up a history textbook and read a little, or perhaps read a lot…
And what would you suggest we do about these “feral young men”…
I agree that the policy treat the AA community badly. I don’t doubt that rioters would never be allowed to burn buildings in white areas. I fully agree that African Americans have had a rough time of it.
But I also understand that lots of groups have had a rough go of it. The Vietnamese boat people had rough times. I understand that the Jewish community has had some “unpleasantness” in their past as well.
The thing is I don’t see them burning their goddamn neighborhoods down.
@An Interested Party:
As a female, I’m totally cool with the idea that “feral young men” of all stripes are the problem here. Therefore we should lock up all those of the male biological gender so that society can live in peace until such time as they are deemed safe. After all, men account for far more of their share of rapists, murderers, assault and batteries, robberies, hate crimes, disorderly conduct in public, etc. based on their population percentage alone!
….. wait, that’s not what Another Mike meant? After all, they’ll be with those missing fathers in there!
I haven’t posted much here, but perhaps what I have written comes across that way. I regret having written my comment this morning with snark because it was meant to be a serious question. As I noted, I did appreciate the response from J-Dub.
What struck me was the degree to which commenters liked the Oriole COO’s comments, because it seems to be an indictment of both political parties. I don’t agree with any commentary right now that rationalizes the violence and looting, but I do agree that our political class has made a mess of the economy over the past 4 decades and inner city blacks have suffered the worst effects of that.
If that here doesn’t refer to Baltimore and when you said ridealongs you were not referring to the city under discussion, then I apologize.
@CStanley: You alienated six people with your comment. Six. You probably offended more people by trying to make a left turn this morning on your way to work.
@MikeSJ: Most ethnic minority groups in the U.S. (note the emphasis) have not suffered for as long or as severely as African-Americans. Generally, most groups faced major discrimination in this country for a few generations, not 300+ years as for AAs. The one group who has suffered as severely in this country is Native Americans, and as a result many statistics for them (poverty rates, crime rates, out of wedlock births, drug abuse) are as high or higher than for African-Americans. You don’t hear about it as often because the Native population is a lot smaller, and a significant percentage of them live on reservations, rather than in major cities (so their challenges are less visible).
Now in the countries of origin from which many of ethnic groups came, it’s often a different story–yes, many people suffered a great deal, often for centuries. But still, their experience in the U.S. is often very different when they came here willingly (vs. being enslaved), even when they had to struggle for a few generations. For instance, one of the most educated group of immigrants in the U.S. today are African immigrants, and most of the stories I’ve heard over the last few years of kids being accepted to all the Ivies, are kids whose parents came here from the Caribbean or an African nation.
They are playing tomorrow’s game to an empty park. Monday and Tuesday will be made up in May via a doubleheader. The next series against Tampa will be played in Florida, with St. Petersburg acting as Orioles home ground.
@Pinky- I’m not losing sleep over it- just acknowledging that my tone wasn’t conducive to a discussion when in an environment where people don’t assume good faith intentions of me.
@An Interested Party:
You don’t come across as anyone interested in suggestions.
Regarding history, I recommend Roll, Jordon, Roll: The World the Slaves Made by Eugene D. Genovese and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. And, of course, there is always the old classic The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.
The part from President Eisenhower sending the troops to Little Rock up until today, I remember quite well.
Interesting. This function used to be handled by marriage in a significant way. Now that marriage is in decline there is one less reason for men to grow up and assume responsibility. One less reason to put a lock on that zipper. We’ll be seeing more and more immature young men with time on their hands and nothing much to do, until, Riot!
@Another Mike: Because riots, wars, and violent crimes never occurred back in the days when women had few options besides marriage?
Enjoy your options, but look out for the young men who are not at home looking after their non-existent families. They may show up someplace around where you are, and their intentions may not be good. OK, forget the advice, what can happen anyway?
And you don’t come across as someone who has a clue…to cite books which say that blacks did the best they could under slavery and also made better lives for themselves by migrating in large numbers out of the South in the beginning of the last century does not take away from the historical fact that blacks have faced systematic discrimination in this country from the very beginning…oh, and you certainly don’t help any argument you might try to make by referring to human beings in animalistic terms…
I guess the easy answer is “everyone but the children”. It’s pretty obvious that the areas that need the most resources are getting the least.