Have you ever thought about that “moment you feared”? Have you ever imagined that very instance where things could become out of hand? Have you ever conceived of a situation in which things could go drastically bad? You know: that moment where you tell Lil’ Durk that “this ain’t what you want”? I’m asking because that moment has occurred for me.
Of course, I’m referring to Baltimore’s protests against the mishandling of Freddie Gray during an arrest. If you have been under that Hulk Buster sized boulder, Freddie Gray died under police custody. As cloudy as the reasons for is arrest really are, so are the events that led to his death. Yet, that cloud allowed for him to have a car-accident-like-severe spinal injury. Added to the unnecessary deaths of black people under police custody over the last year, things are hitting a boiling point.
Freddie Gray and the Concern for Baltimore
And then I had to remind myself that all of this was happening in Baltimore. Many refer to this city as Bodymore. This is the same city that is constantly referenced to The Wire (hit TV show that made us realize how screwed up America was). It is the same one that had those Lewis Boys (Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis) caught up in criminal activity. This is the same city that Nina Simone had to remix Randy Newman’s ode to the metropolis for ethnicity’s sake.
The community should expect traffic delays during the demonstrations. We respect the right for everyone to be heard. #peacefulprotest
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) April 24, 2015
For me, this is NOT the city that needs to be in the wake of protest against police brutality. Yesterday’s events should tell you why:
Protesters angry over the death of Freddie Gray got into physical altercations with police Saturday night in downtown Baltimore near the city’s famed baseball stadium.
Some of the hundreds who confronted lines of police officers got into shoving matches with helmeted cops while other demonstrators threw objects. At least five police cars were damaged by people who smashed windows and jumped on them.
And just like that, these issues have become testy. But, are we surprised? What was to be expected from a city of individuals that prototypically, and stereotypically, are known for its seediest people to “give no fucks”? And how far will this go in reference to Freddie Gray and the life he lost?
Freddie Gray and the Existing Problems
What plenty of us need to realize that these issues that Black people have with the police has to be quelled. The thing about Baltimore, like Ferguson and other places, is the relationship between police and the citizens is broken in shambles. In 1980, the N.A.A.C.P. called for a federal investigation into police brutality . Yet things did not get better. Situations became worse when the police adopted a crime-fighting strategy known as “zero-tolerance policing”, leading to mass arrests . Thus, this explosion in Baltimore only signifies an ongoing problem.
And then there is the amount of killings at the hands of Baltimore police officers. Baltimore police officers have killed 127 people over two decades ending in 2012, with a marked uptick in 2007 and 2008, according to the F.B.I.’s voluntary survey of justifiable homicides by the police . That may not seem a lot until a comparison is made. In other similar surveyed cities — where the Justice Department found in 2011 a “pattern and practice of excessive force” — none reported more than half the number in Baltimore . Thus, it can be said that Baltimore has a problem with the police killing its citizens.
Now there is an understanding for the rage that is in Baltimore. Now there is a picture to look at when it comes to police brutality. Now there is something to think about when the Baltimore police commissioner has had to fire over 50 officers since 2012. Now we get to see why protesters cursed out CNN reporters during a protest. Now we get to see Baltimore in all of its beautiful ugliness.
Freddie Gray and the Healing of Baltimore
Do we honestly want the city of Baltimore to heal? If we do, then we need to make sweeping improvements. One of those improvements is the actions of the police. While other situations are fixed (crime, poverty, educational disparities), there has to be some accountability for the officers in the city. Hopefully, things will get better for Baltimore. Hopefully, Freddie Gray’s family can get the justice they deserve. Until then, I hope that Baltimore doesn’t become Ferguson on steroids.
In the end, we all know how bad things can get with a city like Baltimore.
‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!