Justice Requires Holding Both Baltimore’s Rioters And Its Police Responsible For Their Actions

There is no excuse for last night's rioting in Baltimore, but that should not deflect attention from the problems with that city's police.

Baltimore Police Protester

Conor Friedersdorf makes an excellent point about both the rioting in Baltimore and the underlying issues that have been driving the protests that have been taking place ever since the death of Freddie Gray. and about the media coverage that we’ve seen since the protests started turning violent on Saturday:

Justice demands that participants in the riots are identified, arrested, and charged with whatever crimes they committed. Their unjustifiable violence endangered innocents, destroyed businesses, and harmed the economic future of largely black neighborhoods; they earned the frustrated contempt of Baltimore’s mayor and members of its clergy and strengthened the hand of the public-safety unions that are the biggest obstacles to vital policing reforms.

But a subset of Baltimore police officers has spent years engaged in lawbreaking every bit as flagrant as any teen jumping up and down on a squad car, however invisible it is to CNN. And their unpunished crimes have done more damage to Baltimore than Monday’s riots. Justice also requires that those cops be identified and charged, but few are demanding as much because their brutality mostly goes un-televised. Powerless folks are typically the only witnesses to their thuggery. For too long, the police have gotten away with assaults and even worse. The benefit of the doubt conferred by their uniforms is no longer defensible.

To any reader who sees Baltimore smoldering and believes that this isn’t the appropriate time to start focusing on police misbehavior, I’d have to agree: The right time to start would’ve been any time over the many years that it’s been epidemic. Last week, I wrote about the brutality of police culture in there, drawing on the Baltimore Sun and other news sources that documented cops beating an elderly grandmother, a pregnant woman, and scores of others, prompting almost $6 million in police brutality settlements in the course of a few years.

Why hasn’t Wolf Blitzer ever expressed on-air outrage at any of those cases or their sum? It is perfectly possible to laud police heroes, lament injured police officers, and excoriate bad cops for undermining their colleagues and their community. Imagine watching a rioter beat and kick someone on television and knowing that no one in the city would ever attempt to prosecute the attacker. That’s the lived experience of many blacks in Baltimore, except that no one was recording when they watched brutality by police who still patrol their streets.

That context doesn’t justify riots or looting. Many who’ve been victimized by Baltimore police have not felt the need to victimize other innocents in turn. But it does help explain the contempt many in Baltimore have for its police department, although even its harshest critics will acknowledge that it isn’t all bad and rightly insist that violence should not ever be initiated against police officers.

Why is television news so bereft of this background information?

Part of the answer to that question, of course, is that television news depends principally on imagery, and the images that came across our television screens starting late yesterday afternoon were indeed quite compelling. There were police standoffs with protesters, protesters throwing rocks at police, police using tear gas and other means to try to disperse crowds, looting of local businesses, and, of course, fires, which seem to always make for good television whether we’re talking about national news or local news. The Freddie Gray story, on the other hand, is lacking in the kind of compelling imagery that is the bread and butter of the visual media. Outside of some video from a camera on the street that showed the initial moments of Gray’s arrest, but didn’t show anything that could explain what could have happened to lead to injuries that include a crushed larynx and a nearly completely severed spine, there aren’t any images of what happened to Gray that can be played over and over again the way that the video of yesterday’s rioting is being replayed. That’s why, while there was some coverage of the Freddie Gray story prior to yesterday, it was not the kind of wall-to-wall coverage we’re seeing now. Even when the protests that had risen up in the wake of Gray’s death turned violent on Saturday right outside the area where tens of thousands of people were watching a baseball game, the media didn’t cover it all, with both CNN and MSNBC preferring instead to carry live coverage of the White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner, something which earned scorn last night from Jon Stewart. It wasn’t until Baltimore started burning that the media started paying attention.

Friedersdorf is right, however, that both the very suspicious circumstances of Gray’s death, and the overall issue of what appears to all the world to be a Baltimore Police Department with fairly serious abuse problems deserve to get as much attention as the riots themselves. The details of that reality can be found in an investigation done by the Baltimore Sun which found, among other things that, since 2011 the City of Baltimore has paid out nearly $6 million dollars to victims of police abuse. These victims have included:

[A] 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson. Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.

These ant other reports that have come out in the past week since the Freddie Gray story made national news make it clear that there are serious problems with abuse in the Baltimore Police Department, and that this has led to many of the same feelings of resentment, anger, and fear that motivated the protests that occurred in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the death of Eric Garner in New York City, and the failure of Grand Juries in either of those jurisdictions to indict the officers involved. Since then, we’ve seen similar incidents in other parts of the country, including Cleveland, North Charleston, and Tulsa, and those are just the stories that have made the national news over the past several months. Each of those cases has their own facts, of course, and at least in the Brown case it seems clear that there was no wrongdoing by the officer involved, but as I have said before the facts of the individual cases are only part of what has motivated the protests that continue to occur across the country. Obviously, these stories resonate with a certain segment of the American public because they reinforce perceptions that they have developed about law enforcement over a long period of time, and it’s hard to dismiss the outpouring of anger as some observers have tried to do.  In the immediate future, obviously, there needs to be a full investigation of the Freddie Gray case and, if the facts justify it, then charges need to be brought against the officer involved. Beyond that, though, it is obvious that there are serious problems with policing in Baltimore and other parts of the country, and until those issues are addressed in some broad way, then the problem is just going to continue and there will be most protests the next time there’s another Eric Garner, Walter Scott, or Freddie Gray, And given the fact that these stories now get immediate national media attention, there’s no question that another one of these cases will happen again, probably sooner rather than later.

None of this is to excuse the actions of the rioters, of course. A I said last night, there is no justification for the kind of violence against property and persons that was being committed on the streets of Baltimore, or that we saw in Ferguson in the wake of the decision not to indict former Officer Darren Wilson. It is not a legitimate form of protest, and in the end all it really ends up doing is causing harm to the neighborhoods of the people who are most aggrieved while simultaneously effectively giving sanction to the very heavy handed police tactics that some have claimed to be the “root cause” of the riots. The rioters need to be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and it needs to be made clear by the community that what they did is not representative of the people who live there and is not acceptable. At the same time, though, the riots should not be allowed to drown out the legitimate complaints of the protesters or the questions that still remain unanswered regarding the death of Freddie Gray and the many other cases of police abuse that have come to light in this country.

FILED UNDER: Police, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Modulo Myself says:

    The rioters need to be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and it needs to be made clear by the community that what they did is not representative of the people who live there and is not acceptable.

    You mean the people who weren’t rioting should sign a loyalty oath to private property or something? Or refrain from being empathetic in the case of a sixteen-year old who tossed a rock at a cop or smashed a window of a cop car? It’s been made abundantly clear that the rioting was not representative of the community in that most people in these communities were not out there rioting. What is representative is an ambiguous feeling towards the rioting, and it’s this, I’m guessing, that you wish to go after. After all, to be ambiguous about what laws to follow is a position of privilege, and there’s something uppity about African-Americans who refuse to dance when whites tell them to, even if they actually followed the law. If we were a country of laws, not rioting would be enough to prove that you were not a rioter but apparently that’s not enough. Privileged people can hide behind the law when they want to, but they also get to demand that others go above and beyond it in order to prove their basic worth. Otherwise, everything is permitted.

  2. No Fix says:

    For all the attempts to inject a racial dynamic. it’s worth noting that getting rid of white cops won’t solve the problem, since black cops kill kids at an even higher rate than white cops. Police in Washington, D.C. killed far more people per capita under the black mayor Marion Barry than police in New York City did under white mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

    “In Philadelphia, according to the Justice Department’s recent report, threat perception failures (TPF) were substantially higher among black cops than among white cops, meaning that black cops are more likely to shoot or kill unarmed young black men than white cops are. This disparity exists in other police departments as well. Moreover, although most unarmed people killed in Philadelphia were black, unarmed white men also get shot: ‘Our analysis also shows that threat perception failures (TPF) occur with suspects of all races.'”

    Baltimore and Philly have black mayors, and plenty of police violence, including by black cops.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @No Fix:

    Police in Washington, D.C. killed far more people per capita under the black mayor Marion Barry than police in New York City did under white mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

    Um. . . blacks as a percentage of population in DC: 49.5%. In New York City: 25.5% So, inevitably you’ll see more black folks shot in DC.

  4. No Fix says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No, it’s not inevitable: D.C. police killed far more people per capita, both people overall, and black people in particular, than New York City police. Although New York City has more than ten times as many people as Washington, D.C., the absolute numbers killed were similar in magnitude, reflecting a much higher kill rate in D.C. both per police officer, and per thousand city residents.

    And the D.C. police were much more heavily black than the New York City police (and still are, to a lesser but still very substantial extent).

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I’d guess that if Baltimore tracked down and arrested brutal police officers with equal determination, then the city will happily support arresting rioters. For decades Baltimore government has covered up for cops. That has to stop.

    The authority of police rests on their adherence to the laws they enforce. When cops become criminals there can be no authority which leaves only force. That force will eventually be resisted. This “blue wall of silence” attitude has to stop. It’s cops themselves who have destroyed their standing in the community and made this downward spiral inevitable.

    You really want a culprit in this? It’s the cop who beats on a suspect, and his partner who doesn’t arrest that cop on the spot. The police are responsible for their own loss of authority.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @No Fix:
    Can you link to the stats? I’m interested.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    Yes, the rioters should be held to account…and decades of systematic police abuse should also be dealt with.
    As I noted on another thread…Miami was better for the race riots of the late 80’s as is LA better for the King riots.
    But that’s a process. CNN will be onto the next shiny object any second now. Time will tell if Baltimore is able to turn this into a positive outcome.
    In any case we cannot lose sight of the bigger picture; we have waged war on the middle-class and lower income citizens of this nation for 30 years. We cannot continue to deprive people of their civil and legal rights and continue to allow only the wealthiest to benefit from our economic system…and still expect everything to be OK.

  8. KM says:

    You commit a crime, you should be held responsible. I understand rioting is a last ditch effort from the voiceless to reach out, an angry outburst lashing out at the world. I understand the emotional need and tactic but do not accept it as a moral excuse. Arsonists and looters don’t get a pass because it started out as a protest. Dirty cops need to be in cells right next to people who burn down CVSes; murders belong in jail with thieves. There’s even a legal word for it: Justice. That is the proper way of things.

    The thing is…. nobody believes that’s going to happen. That’s why things are burning right now. Nobody trusts the police to do their job anymore when it comes to policing their own. They’re going to go after the protesters and the cops will walk. If not these, then the next ones we don’t hear about because there’s no video and nothing’s on fire. The police want to hold the public responsible but are awfully silent about their own indiscretions.

    Physician, heal thyself before you break out the cuffs.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Also, can we stop with the obligatory, “the overwhelming number of cops are good cops?” bullsh!t? Because it is obviously false.

    Shw me a single case in the history of the United States where a cop saw another cop beating a suspect and then arrested that cop for committing a crime. Just one.

    You won’t find one, because they don’t exist. Cops do not enforce the law, they enforce police power on behalf of the elites. Poor people in the wrong end of Baltimore already know this. It takes multiple videos and demonstrations and apparently riots to get middle class whites to even approach the subject with a partly open mind.

    If cops are not dirty as a rule, then why do rogue cops not hesitate or stop their illegal beatings when other cops approach?

  10. Blue Galangal says:

    @michael reynolds:

    If cops are not dirty as a rule, then why do rogue cops not hesitate or stop their illegal beatings when other cops approach?

    In the case of the Walter Scott shooting, Slager’s partner sat there and watched Slager go pick up the tazer and drop it on the ground by Scott. Last I heard, Slager’s partner was not brought up on charges or disciplined, and his culpability doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar at all.

  11. J-Dub says:

    Cops do not enforce the law, they enforce police power on behalf of the elites

    and they let me down on Saturday so what do they have left?

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Blue Galangal:
    Or look at the epic beating in Bakersfield. First a couple of cops, then others arrive and join in, and they all beat away in the (mistaken) belief that the chopper overhead is a police helicopter. That’s not a few bad cops, that’s an entire department that is utterly rotten to the core.

    This isn’t “a few cops” or a few departments. This is cops in the United States of America. Our cops are thugs, the DEA are thugs, the ICE are thugs, our corrections officers are thugs. Our NSA and CIA think they have carte blanche to lie to their Congressional overseers. We have private armies of thugs-for-hire. Our criminal justice system is a contemptible mess with FBI agents lying under oath and with DA’s lying to gain convictions. We rely on this system to execute people.

    And it’s all just fine so long as the victims are “the other.” Black, Hispanic, Arab, as long as the pigs don’t come after middle class whites everything is just fine.

    Unless someone burns down a CVS.

  13. aFloridian says:

    . Obviously, these stories resonate with a certain segment of the American public because they reinforce perceptions that they have developed about law enforcement over a long period of time, and it’s hard to dismiss the outpouring of anger as some observers have tried to do.

    You mean black people and the segment of whites who don’t see blacks as subhuman?

    I agree that rioting shouldn’t happen. My biggest worry from it is that it just galvanizes whites in their smug self-satisfied belief in their own superiority as well as the widespread view that blacks are simply more violent, impulsive, and angry.

    That said, I have a lot more sympathy for why these kids are rioting than I think you do. I do think that these riots are less representative of the community-at large than it seems – I agree with Fox News’ assessment that we have been seeing a lot of rabble-rousing professional protesters and what I call “theology types” that essentially have a black supremacy-infused hatred of white people. Them, and the young kids in the neighborhood.

    But how else do you expect them to get attention and action? I’ve seen numerous white friends posting on facebook how “this is a protest” (MLK March) “this is a riot” (Baltimore rioting) – “If you can’t tell the difference you’re part of the problem” – but the fact is they’ve been protesting and nobody cares. It’s only when white shareholders start seeing their pharmacies go up in smoke that folks are moved to caring.

  14. aFloridian says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Boy, I agree. I don’t tend to indulge in such strong language, but as someone who has an inside understanding of the prosecutor’s ofice, the manner in which they think, and the way they all crowd behind the blue curtain is striking. Somewhere along the way it stops being about “justice” and becomes about “winning.” What really bothered was the way they’d tell stories where they used their “ebonics/ghetto” voices as they described what was said during a citizen encounter, or just the general lack of empathy for the problems of poor and/or minority people. Same with prison guards who laughingly tell stories of threatening and abusing their charges. So yeah, I’m inclined to agree. It’s not a “few bad apples” but a systemic issue.

    Not to mention our sentencing laws are draconian. If you are going to sentence someone to 20-40 years of jail, you are denying them any chance at rehabilitation. And our system straight-up admits it’s about punishment. We could really take a page from Scandinavia on that point, rather than locking up a black kid for 40 years behind he used a pistol to rob a Krystal burger.

  15. SKI says:

    This one hits close to home. Literally, as Baltimore is my hometown with most of my family still living there.

    My soon-to-be-ex-brother-in-law was BPD in SouthWest for close to a decade. He ultimately left the force (and the state) with PTSD as three of his friends and colleagues lost their lives on the line.

    I know that most cops are “good people” doing what can be an incredibly difficult and dangerous job – particularly in a downtrodden urban environment -but the reality is that they are horrific citizens and professionals. Their mindset, one that they are trained in, is to do whatever you need to, no matter the cost or impact on anyone else, to go home at the end of your shift.

    That training and shared-mindset creates a huge gap in empathy between cops and “civilians” – and that is at the heart of the issue. Lack of empathy leads to abuse. Tribalism leads to condoning it. It gets worse and worse as the abuse radicalizes both sides in a reinforcing cycle of distrust and violence. The shocking thing isn’t the riots but that they have been so long in coming…

  16. stonetools says:

    Let me be as cynical as all get out.

    One day the cops will make a mistake and shoot or beat to death a blonde, white middle class girl.
    The day after that , Congressional hearings will begin on the “massive problem” of police brutality,there will be 24/7/365 coverage of the “police brutality crisis” by cable news, and presidential candidates will be saying, “As I have always said, we must look at this problem of police brutality.”
    Too cynical?

  17. Gustopher says:

    Justice demands that participants in the riots are identified, arrested, and charged with whatever crimes they committed

    Identified and arrested by who? The violent thugs in blue that caused all of this mess by killing a black guy in their custody?

  18. Blue Galangal says:

    @stonetools: I honestly thought for a few moments, because I have occasional attacks of optimism, that there might be a sea change with Tamir Rice, who was literally a kid playing in a park. The fact that people still spoke out to justify his murder, despite video evidence that the police lied, convinced me that the problem is much deeper and more widespread than I’d previously considered. There is no systemic, institutional awareness that police violence is a problem.

    You have police union leaders claiming they never heard of such a thing as a “rough ride.” And you have a media that – as Doug correctly notes – pays attention only to what will sell eyeballs. More than three-quarters of the media outlets today make their money from titillation, fear, and extremism. if they don’t get eyeballs or clicks, they don’t get paid. They don’t care about the truth. They care about selling papers (figuratively, of course), and boy howdy a CVS on fire will sell some papers.

    I tried to think of an upbeat way to end this post but I can’t. I’m so sad and tired.

  19. Monala says:

    Outside of some video from a camera on the street that showed the initial moments of Gray’s arrest, but didn’t show anything that could explain what could have happened to lead to injuries that include a crushed larynx and a nearly completely severed spine, there aren’t any images of what happened to Gray that can be played over and over again the way that the video of yesterday’s rioting is being replayed.

    I wonder why someone has to visually see the event to know that something horrific and criminal happened to Gray. Isn’t knowing that he had a crushed larynx and severed spine, and that these injuries occurred after he was cuffed, horrifying enough?

  20. Monala says:

    @michael reynolds: And when cops do try to stop other cops from being abusive? They end up beaten and/or fired themselves: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-departments-good-cops-buffalo-officer-fired-stopping-brutality/

  21. ernieyeball says:

    Today on NPR’s All Things Considered, Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police stated “Officers aren’t perfect but deserve due process like other citizens.”

    Well the “due process” afforded citizen Walter Scott was summary execution.
    Somehow I don’t think this is what Mr. Canterbury has in mind.

  22. Pangloss says:

    Police brutality has always been a problem, but it’s actually less a problem now than it ever has been in the past. Modern communications have just made it easier to publicize things like the murder of Walter Scott and the brutal killing of Freddie Gray. (Although there are still a lot of unjustified police killings that go unpublicized, especially when the police officer and the civilian he kills are of the same race. There are also many white youths who get killed by the police, and few people care).

    A lawyer I once worked with said that the police officers he defended in Section 1983 lawsuits over excessive force, etc., were often just bullies with badges.

  23. Just Me says:

    I’ve read and seen plenty of interviews with non violent residents of Baltimore to get the impression that they don’t want or like the rioting in their neighborhoods either. The rioters probably don’t know Freddie and probably don’t really care about the issues involved with his death. They are looking for a reason to steal and destroy stuff.

    I think there is also a major breakdown in community policing and from reports Baltimore’s cops in general have major problems in the communities they should be serving. Reports of brutality, planting evidence etc were common.

    Baltimore has a cop problem that needs to be cleaned up but that doesn’t mean those rioting should get to destroy their neighborhoods because they are mad at the city. Throwing cinder blocks at fire trucks responding to fires in the community should t be tolerated, throwing bricks at cops shouldn’t be tolerated, burning buildings down should t be tolerated. The fires IMO are dangerous and the attempts of rioters to harm fire trucks and Fire fighters even more so-an out of control fire can lead to far more tragedy than a burned building.

  24. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: Cops do not enforce the law, they enforce police power on behalf of the elites. Poor people in the wrong end of Baltimore already know this.

    Obviously, the solution is for government to control more aspects of life; to be larger and involved in more matters of a person’s life; to be larger with more government workers imposing rules.

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.”
    –Art Carden, Econlog

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    Obviously, the solution is for government to control more aspects of life

    I love the way conservative apologists foam at the mouth about how powers need to be devolved from the federal government to the states, and from the states to local government — until it becomes impossible to disguise just how corrupt local government invariably is. At that point, they fall back on condemning “government”, simpliciter, as if it were all the same…

  26. Scott F. says:

    Conor F. asks:

    Why is television news so bereft of this background information?

    And Doug answers:

    Part of the answer to that question, of course, is that television news depends principally on imagery, and the images that came across our television screens starting late yesterday afternoon were indeed quite compelling…

    I find it remarkable in Conor’s query and Doug’s response that the obvious answer doesn’t come out. Television depends on imagery, but providing the news doesn’t and even television news doesn’t have to provide actual footage of events to relate a story. All one has to do is recall CNN coverage of the missing AirAsia flight to know that there are all manner of graphic tools, interviews and simulations that could be brought to bear if they really wanted to cover something they deemed to be news.

    But, there’s the rub. Television news isn’t interested in disseminating information to viewers. Their job is to deliver eyeballs to advertisers and that trumps all other considerations. So, the audience gets the most sensationalist, graphic content the networks can get away with and people learning something important can be damned. Solemn talking heads sharing the findings of the Baltimore Sun just ain’t gonna get the job done.

    Conor wants to know why television news doesn’t give the background. It’s because Doritos doesn’t give a damn about that.

  27. anjin-san says:

    and it needs to be made clear by the community that what they did is not representative of the people who live there and is not acceptable.

    One has to wonder how receptive Doug would be if poor black folks started to talk publicly about the things his community “needs” to do.

  28. raoul says:

    Simply stated: what is worse, the damage to the buildings done last night by the rioters (note- no fatalities as far as I know) or the death of Freddie Gray by the police?

  29. Gustopher says:

    Do you know who else needs to be held accountable?

    Every single officer on the force who looked the other way while a culture of systemic abuse continued in the police department, as well as their superiors up the food chain.

    The riots are a response to the unchecked police violence. To say that those who created the situation and those who responded to it are equally culpable is … well, that’s actually just the patented Doug Mataconis “Both Sides Do It” argument, isn’t it?

    I’ll go out on a limb and say this — the rioters are less worse. By far. Non-violent protest has proven ineffective, so the alternatives are either sit-down-and-shut-up or violent protest.

    And, at some point, the DOJ will have to stop just parachuting in when there are riots about police brutality, and start being proactive — creating a set of guidelines that the local police departments need to follow, and following through with oversight and prosecution.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    Obviously, the solution is for government to control more aspects of life; to be larger and involved in more matters of a person’s life; to be larger with more government workers imposing rules.

    Let’s start with taking all the $$$ we could save by not incarcerating every black kid with a nickel bag and spend it on providing equal opportunity for poor minorities, and actually prosecuting cops who break the law. Then we can see how to proceed from there.

  31. Tyrell says:

    @C. Clavin: Part of providing equal opportunities begins with quality education. What we have today is an education system in which teachers are testing instead of teaching, and the schools are ran by career bureaucrats, judges, and politicians. Let the teachers and principals run the schools. Some of the best schools in the country are inner city schools. There the authority rests at the school level, not with some bureaucrat or politician in D.C.
    See Capitol Prep school, Hartford, CT. Dr. Steve Perry, headmaster

  32. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    What with all the “news” coverage, I can’t remember where I heard this, but one of the folks being interviewed pointed out that one of the things that probably hasn’t helped in police-community relations in Baltimore was shutting down all the Police Athletic Leagues, the police mentoring programs and after school activities. They didn’t just fade away, but were shut down when Baltimore hired a new chief from NYC.

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    Obviously, the solution is for government to control more aspects of life; to be larger and involved in more matters of a person’s life;

    Actually, most of us are arguing for shutting down a major source of government power and control – the war on drugs.

    Read much?

  34. Grewgills says:

    In response to police abuse and brutality, members of the community sued the police and nothing changed. Members of the community protested nonviolently and nobody noticed. Some of them started breaking things, now all eyes are on Baltimore.
    This pattern is why we have riots and will continue to have riots. All of you who spend more of your time worrying about the few days of violence,thus far mainly property damage, than the years of abuse, up to and including murder, that led to it are part of the problem.

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    I will take it a bit further. Most of us are arguing for downsizing the prison system. We are arguing for reduced police power, and increased accountability. We are arguing for smaller government (in these areas) that is more accountable to citizens.

    Meanwhile “conservatives” – so called – argue for unfettered police power and chafe at the thought of accountability. The conservative media relentlessly pushes the meme that black males are “thugs” – and if a few thugs get killed by the police, well, they probably had it coming to them. So, unchecked power for the police, right up to the power to kill citizens on the street without fear of consequences.

    Sorry Bubba, your analysis is about 180 degrees off.

  36. Grewgills says:
  37. Zachriel says:

    Doug Mataconis: Part of the answer to that question, of course, is that television news depends principally on imagery, and the images that came across our television screens starting late yesterday afternoon were indeed quite compelling.

    Obviously, simple marching isn’t dynamic enough to make the news, something the previous generation was taught as a valid form of protest. Consequently, some people resort to violence. It takes creativity to make peaceful protest interesting enough to make the news.

    Make salt.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW3uk95VGes&t=2m31s

  38. Jack says:

    @anjin-san:

    The conservative media relentlessly pushes the meme that black males are “thugs”

    I didn’t realize the mayor of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and President Obama, were Conservatives.

    I guess that goes to show you that anjin-san’s critique of Conservatives is, well, to put it bluntly, a pile of horse squeeze.

  39. Grewgills says:

    For all of those drawing comparisons with Dr King, here is a quote from him

    It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.

    and another apropos quote from JFK

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable

  40. Tyrell says:

    MLB game closed to public. Schools dismiss early.
    What happened to getting things back to normal ?

  41. Grewgills says:

    @Grewgills:
    The down vote was entirely expected. The conservatives that tout Dr King (and Gandhi) whenever there is civil unrest don’t want the real Dr King (or Gandhi). They want the Disneyfied King that only exists in their collective imaginations and his example only ever seems to be invoked by them as a cudgel against the very people he was fighting for.

  42. bill says:

    @C. Clavin: so a chronic drug dealer dies in police custody- let’s burn down the city. logic just doesn’t exist there i guess.

  43. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    There are people out there that are “thugs”, and sometimes is appropriate to call that fact out – which is quite a bit different than what right wing media outlets are doing – using “thug” as an all-purpose descriptor to portray any black male(s) they wish to attack as dangerous criminals underserving of even basic rights.

    For example: Treyvon Martin was a kid who was literally walking back from a candy run. Going about his lawful business, in other words. He was followed by a strange man with a history of unstable behavior and a gun who subsequently killed him.

    ((PRESTO)) – no wait, Martin was not a kid with a pocket full of candy, he was a “thug” – therefore he deserved whatever happened to him.

    That you are not bright enough to see the difference between these two use cases for the word thug surprises no one.

  44. Blue Galangal says:

    @Grewgills:SOme historical context: the Watts riots broke out over an altercation at a traffic stop (50 years ago… o tempora, o mores). Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote:

    In August 1965 violence broke out in Watts, the black ghetto in Los Angeles. Beating, looting, burning, sniping, bombing, went on for six days, leaving 34 people dead, more than 1,000 injured. The Watts riot, said Dwight D. Eisenhower sternly, “did not occur in a vacuum. I believe the U.S. as a whole has been becoming atmosphered, you might say, in a policy of lawlessness.” The former President’s solution was “greater respect for the law.” Kennedy lashed back. “There is no point in telling Negroes to obey the law,” he said. “To many Negroes the law is the enemy. In Harlem, in Bedford-Stuyvesant it has almost always been used against them.”

  45. anjin-san says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    How about using a more complete quote”

    “There is no point in telling Negroes to obey the law,” he said. “To many Negroes the law is the enemy. In Harlem, In Bedford-Stuyvesant it has almost always been used against them.”

  46. Blue Galangal says:

    @anjin-san: Yeah, I was editing it – internet’s really slow tonight.

  47. Tyrell says:

    @anjin-san: When I was a child I remember “thug” was used to describe any serious criminal, including such figures in the ’30’s such as Capone, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Machine Gun Kelly. So it did not have any racial meanings or overtone at all. I don’t know how or who put out the propaganda that it is a term being used for just blacks. The president and the mayor of Baltimore used the term to describe the rioters of Baltimore. It is not a racist term now either. Thug accurately describes those who burned, looted, or injured. The terms terrorist, extremist, and insurrectionist would describe those who planned, equipped, trained, and were behind these attacks.
    So now people are arguing whether “thug” is racist instead of working on some real solutions.

  48. anjin-san says:

    @bill:

    so a chronic drug dealer dies in police custody- let’s burn down the city. logic just doesn’t exist there i guess.

    So thousands of black men are killed by police. Let’s just do nothing.

    That your logic?