Reprinted from Reader Supported News
The senseless killing of Freddie Gray sparked the Baltimore Riots of 2015, but the powder-keg now exploding there is an extension of an accumulative national outrage over homicidal police violence. Specifically the relentless killing by U.S. police of young black men.
It's about Freddie Gray, but it's also about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it's about Tamir Rice and Walter Scott. It's about the literally hundreds of Americans each year gunned down by police officers. It's a national shame and an international disgrace, and the National Guard -- in full military deployment mode -- is on the streets of Baltimore now to make sure that the status quo is protected.
More than that, Baltimore is yet another early warning sign that the abandonment of education, the futility of low wage jobs, and the consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few powerful individuals is creating a new social desperation that can only be controlled at the point of a gun.
The people of Baltimore want what the Black Panthers wanted in 1970, an end to police violence and a chance at economic opportunity.
The City of Baltimore did a good job of public relations after the Freddie Gray incident. But it was too late. The professionalism displayed by city officals could not mask the brutality committed against Freddie Gray by the police. Yes, Freddie Gray should have received treatment before being loaded into a police van. But that's not what broke his spine and crushed his larynx. Mindless, racist brutality by police did that.
The presence of fully militarized police and National Guardsmen on the streets of Baltimore is another vain attempt to maintain the facade of Absolute Authority. "We the system, and if necessary the police and the military, are in control, and we will do whatever it takes to remain in control." At least in urban African American neighborhoods that is, but not at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, or in Utah or Idaho, where heavily armed white residents openly defy federal law every day.
There is an epidemic of lethal police violence in America today. The states and local authorities are either unable or unwilling to stop the killing. Traditionally federal authority, the Department of Justice for the most part, has stepped in to defend civil rights. While outgoing attorney general Eric Holder and President Obama seem concerned, they appear to have no stomach for the type of direct confrontation Johnson used in Alabama and Mississippi in the 1960s. Incoming attorney general Loretta Lynch hasn't yet signaled how or if she will act. So far, however, the Justice Department during Obama's tenure has lacked the resolve needed to confront militant U.S. police departments.
Right now repression is easier and more politically convenient than reform. But reform is the only thing that can bring peace and justice.
How many deaths will it take?