I’ll acknowledge the hypocrisy up front. I have no plans to go to Baltimore to protest. I’m 58 and have a family to support.
But I wish there were a few million people more selfless than I.
Because somehow, some way, Black America, Brown America, and the portion of White America with a shred of decency, however large or small that portion may be, need to rise up and put an end to this insanity.
And make no mistake, this is insanity we’re dealing with. If you’re not sufficiently familiar with what likely happened to Freddie Gray, try googling “Baltimore” and “rough ride.” A rough ride is a practice the Baltimore police have employed for the better part of a decade. Several of their unlucky victims in the past now are paralyzed.
Here’s the Baltimore Sun on how it works:
Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott’s hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and “maniacally drove” her to the Northern District police station, “tossing [her] around the interior of the police van.”
“They were braking really short so that I would slam against the wall, and they were taking really wide, fast turns,” Abbott said in an interview that mirrored allegations in her lawsuit. “I couldn’t brace myself. I was terrified.”
The lawsuit states she suffered unspecified injuries from the arrest and the ride.
“You feel like a piece of cargo,” she added. “You don’t feel human.”
Abbott actually should consider herself lucky, at least luckier than Dondi Johnson and Jeffrey Alston:
Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.
It’s not yet official that this is what happened to Freddie Gray, but what would be your bet? After all, he went into the police van handcuffed and able to walk, yet wound up dead with a broken neck.
What sort of society puts up with this?
I’ll go a step further. What sort of society puts up with the White morons who show “support” for the police after an event like this, like the drunk baseball fans who shouted “we don’t care” in response to protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” outside an Orioles game?
And now we’re hearing about the riots, with many quoting MLK’s observation that riots are the “language of the unheard.”
Hard to disagree with MLK on that one, but what about the “heard”? Where are their voices? How could this happen right on the heels of Ferguson, New York and Cleveland, and just one week after North Charleston?
Could it be because the response, particular the White response, to Ferguson, New York, Cleveland and North Charleston was too muted to cow our racist local police departments?
The reality here is that police brutality is systemic and as long as its victims are Black, too few of us have been willing to rise up against it.
And if that doesn’t change, Baltimore is just the beginning of the unrest.
Yes, riots are the language of the unheard. And if the heard don’t begin to speak a bit louder about this insane system we have the temerity to describe as a system of justice, expect more riots.