By now most people around the country are aware of the violent situation in Baltimore that came about after the funeral of Freddie Gray who died last week while in police custody.
From video Gray was the black man who had been arrested and dragged off in a police van. Then from reports, while in custody vertebrae in his back were broken, required surgery but from which he never recovered.
This incident with police, and Gray dying while in custody, sparked local demonstrations throughout the week and then escalated yesterday afternoon with hundreds of high school age students clashing with police, rock throwing, police cars set afire, a local CVS pharmacy set ablaze, rampaging and looting at a local mall, then last night multiple fires were set in other parts of the city.
In response, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake last night issued a 10 PM curfew for today and continue for the rest of the week while Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Jr. called in the National Guard.
As of this morning from local TV, though some fires still burned, some local residents were seen cleaning up the debris in their neighborhoods in what appeared to be an uneasy calm descending on the city.
An "uneasy calm" is the appropriate term; though there appears to be a large police presence and the National Guard soon to be deployed, from here it's highly unlikely this black rage that erupted after the latest death of a young black man by police, now in Baltimore, is just a local outpouring of pent up rage.
This is a national phenomenon.
It began last summer with Ferguson, Missouri policeman Darren Wilson gunning down Michael Brown. His killing became the catalyst for unleashing the inner rage that exists in many black and brown men- see Chris Hedges most recent article "Rise of the New Black Radical" and his interview with T-Dubb-O, a founder of "Hands Up United" that was formed after the murder of Michael Brown- to get a more thorough understanding of why this is happening.
Let's recall, since Brown was murdered last August, there's the video of Eric Garner in July thrown to the ground by police in Staten Island, New York, him yelling, "I can't breathe" and then seeing him laying there dying as the police just stood there. Then the video of a 12 year old boy playing with a toy airsoft gun in a child's recreation park and shot by a Cleveland policeman two seconds after arrived on the scene, a video of a Charleston, South Carolina policeman shooting an unarmed man in the back; just a few of the many incidents of police killing young black men.
Here's the reality, too many black and brown men are often profiled as suspects without cause by the police, provoked, harassed, rousted, patted down, thrown to the ground or against a patrol car and even having their cash confiscated. Some are arrested for jaywalking, forced to appear in court and pay the fine. If they can't pay they're jailed. If they don't show up in court to pay the fine, a warrant is issued for their arrest. Once caught they're jailed and fined a further amount for not making the court appearance.
To these men the police are not their protectors, they're the enemy.
So in Baltimore, the pent up rage erupted in violence, chaos, looting and the setting of multiple fires.
A local man identifying himself as a gang member when interviewed this morning on a local TV station put it succinctly, "I don't agree with what's happening, but I can understand it"
The mayor in her news conference last night referred to these young men as "thugs". So did the governor. Both said the "thugs" will be "found and held accountable"; typical reactions by authorities with no hint of "understanding" why this was happening.
But the violence, looting, burning by these young men is a sort of blind lashing out for the abuses they suffer at the hands of that authority.
And if as expected the authorities restore order, return to "business as usual" as if the disorder they witnessed was some aberration, an unwelcome intruder to "Charm City's" serenity, they are clueless.
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