Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore Burning

It should be no surprise to anyone seeing or hearing national news that Baltimore is in the midst of a serious civil disturbance.

A review of the facts. On April 12, a well known street hustler and frequent arrestee Freddie Gray was accosted by the Baltimore Police. While the reason for the initial contact with police has not yet been revealed to the public, Freddie apparently chose to run, and the police ran him down, discovered a knife (arguably illegal under Baltimore's ancient anti-switchblade statue) in his pocket, and arrested him for its possession. There is no allegation he displayed or brandished the knife at the police.

Between the time of his arrest, when he was videoed being carried off apparently uninjured, and the time he arrived at the police station, he apparently suffered a spinal injury, which severed his spinal cord in his neck by 80%.  The cause of the injury, if known, has not been revealed to the public. It is apparently a favorite tactic of Baltimore Police to give what are called "nickel rides" to detainees:
The circumstances suggest that Gray's transportation may have involved a so-called "nickel ride," in which officers deliberately drive at high speeds and suddenly stop and start, a technique used to punish arrested suspects and which has been known to sometimes cause serious injury.
After lingering a week in the hospital, Freddie Gray died on April 19.

Clearly there are lessons to be learned here:

#1 The police are not your friends. Do nothing that can attract their attention.
#2 Never, never, ever, ever run from or resist the police. Nothing good can happen.
#3 Bad things can happen in police custody. Avoid if at all possible, consistent with #2.

With Ferguson and the Eric Garner incidents both close in the rear view mirror, it was almost inevitable that some strife and civil was going to come, and by all accounts, there may well be more justification in this case. It's difficult to conceive how a health man could be arrested, and wind up dead at the end of a car ride.

Freddie's funeral at Shiloh Baptist Church on April 27th was attended by "civil rights" leaders, and White House delegates"
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke at the funeral: "To mother Gloria and to the entire family, I want you to know we stand with you during this difficult time."

Cummings said he "looked at the cameras" and reflected on the great amount of attention Gray was receiving in death: "Did anybody recognize Freddie Gray when he was alive?" he asked.
. . .
"There are those who will tell you don't cry. I'm not going to say that," Cummings said.
The White House sent Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, chair of the Obama administration's My Brother's Keeper Task Force; Heather Foster, an adviser in the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Elias Alcantara from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Almost immediately after the funeral, the rioting began in earnest, with cars and buildings being torched, windows broken, and stores looted. Police who tried to restore order were attacked with thrown stones and bricks, resulting in several injuries. There is some suggestion that the mostly young rioters were inspired by the movie "The Purge."
Baltimore police said rioting at a shopping mall and elsewhere Monday afternoon started amid rumors, spread on social media, of a "purge" led by large groups of marauding high school students.

The term appears to be a reference to 2013's "The Purge" and its sequel, last year's "The Purge: Anarchy," about a dystopian future America where on one day each year, all laws are suspended for a 12-hour period and all crimes, including murder, become temporarily legal.

In the movies, set in Los Angeles, people barricade themselves in their homes at night while gangs of violent "purgers" roam the streets. The government markets the sanctioned mayhem as a catharsis that reduces crime on the other 364 days of the year -- when in fact it's really a means of population control, mostly against people living in poor urban neighborhoods.
Police reported that various Baltimore gangs had agreed to a truce to concentrate on injuring and killing police.

In the midst of the rioting, the newly elected Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie-Rawling Blake (D) may or may not have fanned the flames with her statement . . .
"I've made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech," Rawlings-Blake said Saturday as Baltimore roiled following the funeral of Freddie Gray, the black man who died in police custody April 19.

"It's a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate."
although she tried hard to deny that she gave any encouragement to the rioters:
"I did not instruct police to give space to protesters who were seeking to create violence or destruction of property," she wrote. "Taken in context, I explained that, in giving peaceful demonstrators room to share their message, unfortunately, those who were seeking to incite violence also had space to operate."
Newly elected Maryland Governor Hogan (R) ordered a state of emergency and National Guard troops sent to Baltimore within 30 seconds of being asked by the Mayor.
We declared state of emergency and I issued the executive order less than 30 seconds after requested by the city of Baltimore. So didn’t take us very long at all. I signed an executive order almost immediately as soon as we received the call and called the president. There was no delay whatsoever. We’ve had this emergency operation center activated since Saturday. We’ve had hundreds of state police on the ground. We’ve had every single state agency and local agency coordinated out of this operation already for the entire week.

I‘ve been in daily communication with the mayor and others in the city and our entire team has been involved from day one. Frankly, this was a Baltimore city situation. Baltimore city was in charge. When the mayor called me, which quite frankly we were glad that she finally did, instantly we signed the executive order. We already had our entire team prepared.
Curfews have been declared for the next week, and O's games cancelled for tonight.

Martin O'Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore, and former Governor of Maryland, and currently semi-serious candidate for the Democratic presidential candidacy immediately cut short his trip to Ireland, and cancelled paid speeches to return to the United States:
“I’m saddened that the City I love is in such pain this night,” O’Malley said in a statement before canceling his trip. “All of us share a profound feeling of grief for Freddie Gray and his family. We must come together as one City to transform this moment of loss and pain into a safer and more just future for all of Baltimore’s people.”
O'Malley is held responsible by some for the aggressive stance that the Baltimore Police have adopted:
Civil rights advocates and some elected officials here trace the tensions to “zero-tolerance policing,” a crime-fighting strategy championed by Martin O’Malley, the former governor and a potential Democratic candidate for president, when he was the mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Aides of Mr. O’Malley note that on his watch, the number of annual homicides dropped below 300 per year for the first time in more than a decade, and that violent crime in Baltimore dropped by 41 percent. Steve Kearney, a top aide to Mr. O’Malley when he was the mayor, described the policies as “appropriate for the time.”

But zero-tolerance policing led to mass arrests of people for small infractions, as well as intense “community frustration,” Ms. Kumar of the A.C.L.U. said. “Countless innocent people,” she added, “were getting caught up in this dragnet style of policing.”
Hillary tweeted a bumper sticker:
Tonight I am praying for peace & safety for all in Baltimore, & for Freddie Gray's family - his death is a tragedy that demands answers. -H
Just a while ago, President B. Hussein Obama threw some more gasoline:
"If we are serious about solving this problem, then we're going to need to not only help the police, we're to have to think about what we can do -- the rest of us," Obama said during a Rose Garden press conference with the Prime Minister of Japan.

"That's hard," he said. "That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.

"If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could. It's just that it would require everyone saying, 'this is important, this is significant,'" Obama said.

"And we don't just pay attention when a CVS burns," he added. "That’s how I feel."
. . .
He argued that the riots, which grew particularly intense after Gray's funeral on Monday, had unnecessarily overshadowed more peaceful protests in previous days.
 As of now, the riots are continuing.

And this is what happens in Baltimore when Mom finds out you've been rioting:

1 comment:

  1. Anybody mention Freddie had spinal surgery a week before his run-in with the fuzz?

    Just might account for that nearly severed spine.