Baltimore, Maryland - a city of vibrant culture, great food, and terrible roads. It is a city who witnessed a great and terrible tragedy this past week that stemmed from the murder of twenty-five year old Freddie Gray. The riots that took place were saddening, horrendous, and unfortunately only one of many that have taken place in recent times.
Baltimore, Riots, and the Need For Change
What happened in Baltimore this past week was atrocious. It was full of selfish acts that should - and can not - go unchallenged.
From the Perspective of Someone Who Has Had Enough
The riots this past week in Baltimore were terrible. There is really no other way of saying it. Actually that statement is wrong. There are many other words to describe the chaos that ensued.
Horrendous. Destructive. Vicious. Appalling. Unfair.
Yes, I said unfair. Unfair to whom? Everyone.
They were unfair to the family of Mr. Gray who begged for a peaceful justice for their slain loved one.
They were unfair to the peaceful protestors who got lumped in with the self-seekers who decided to make a battlefield out of the city.
They were unfair to the police officers, EMTs, and fire fighters who were trying to bring peace to the city.
Yes, that day was unfair to a lot of people.
It was unfair to the shop owners who had to go back to their stores the next day to see their livelihood in shambles.
What about the elderly who were counting on that new senior home that was just about finished? What will happen to them? It was definitely unfair to them.
What will happen to the thousands of commuters who now have to find alternate ways to get to work? Isn’t this unfair to them too?
I live in Annapolis, about forty-five minutes from the heart of the city. I know members of the National Guard who were dispatched into the city. I know people who have to now take the long way to work. I know innocent civilians who had to evacuate their homes because they feared for their lives that night.
When riots break out, it’s not just about the property and cars that get damaged. Whole communities, whole lives get thrown off balance.
However, this situation is more than just about the inconveniences that occur in the aftermath. We are talking about lives that are being lost for senseless reasons. Mr. Gray did not deserve to die just like every single life that is lost to police brutality is senseless and wrong. Our country is supposed to be known for giving their citizens fair and speedy trials. A person cannot get this trial if they are dead. Yes, Mr. Gray had a record against him, and yes he was foolish to run from the police. However, he did not deserve the death that he received. If you say that the police are just human and make mistakes then you must also agree that they need to be treated like humans and not put on these untouchable pedestals that we have given them. Politicians, military personnel, and police officers need to be held accountable for what they do just like the rest of us.
Ironically, I was watching Netflix today and saw the episode of “A Different World” where the police were found innocent of the beating of a black man named Rodney King and as a result, riots broke out in LA. That was twenty years ago, yet the uncanny resemblance to the situation in Baltimore gave me chills. Why have things still not changed? How long will the racism and actions of corrupt police officers go unchecked?
This situation in Baltimore makes my blood boil. It is not simply because I live so close and know so many people there. It is not simply because I am a woman of African descent and fear for my brothers and sisters and every time these kind of riots break out, the people are helping perpetuate the stigma that blacks are second class citizens, thugs, and animals.
It is not simply because the officers involved can't for the life of them, remember what happened to Freddie Gray that caused his spine to be dislocated in such a way.
It is because America, with all its progressive thinking, is still facing the same issues it was facing decades ago. I pray for peace for this country and for justice to be served. I hope you are too.