Beyond Baltimore: America’s Racial Policing and The Rising Flames of Discontent

Black males , Cummings, Beyond Baltimore,America’s Racial Policing ,The Rising Flames of Discontent,25-year-old Freddie Gray, “fire next time”, James Baldwin ,Michael Brown , Eric Garner,African-Americans like Freddie Gray,American racism,Congressman Elijah Cummings ,switchblade knife
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They won't take it anymore

[Speaking Truth To Power]

This week, the world watched as raw emotions and rage exploded in Baltimore, Maryland, in the aftermath of the unjustified and callous killing of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, at the hands of members of the Baltimore Police, with some protesters hurling rocks and bricks at police—injuring several officers in the process.

Could this be a prelude to the coming of the “fire next time” that the late Harlem-born writer James Baldwin talked about?

The eruption of fiery violence, in Baltimore Monday, and the state of emergency that is now being enforced with the help of the National Guard, is the latest episode illustrating the level of frustration many—especially, young Black people—have with the high level of uncontrolled racist violence being utilized on a daily basis against Black America by police officers.

The Freddie Gray case coming on the heels of the cold-blooded murder of Walter Scott—not to mention after the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner—is creating a seriously combustible situation that will only get worse, if Congress continues to twiddle their thumbs.

Serious legislative measures, at the local, state and national levels, need to be enacted to redress the racial policing tactics that steal the lives of African-Americans like Freddie Gray. But Congress must take a lead role in encouraging fundamental change in how police departments are run nationwide.

On Monday, hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, some protesters looted and set ablaze at least one CVS store. Some protesters also targeted the source of their frustrations: the Baltimore Police.

Reportedly, rocks and bricks were thrown at police—several of whom, were injured, with some sustaining broken bone injuries. Freddie Gray’s death has been attributed to him having suffered three broken vertebrae and his spinal cord was reportedly nearly completely severed at the hands of police.

Police cars also came under attack and at least two vehicles were torched. Police also, allege, they received a “credible threat” that three gangs are now working together to “take out” law enforcement officers. Chilling, given the history of institutional racism, within the policing and the legal system, some community elements—in particular, those that have been criminalized by American racism—could very well unleash a situation that would put all police, the good and bad ones, at risk.

Will Congress, and local and state politicians, wait until we have dead police officers on American streets before they act to restructure America’s police departments?

At the funeral of Freddie Gray, Congressman Elijah Cummings spoke about the need for justice to mourners, and to the mother of Freddie Gray.

“I’ve often said that our children are the living messages we send to the future we will never see, but now, our children are sending us to a future they will never see. There is something wrong with that picture,” Cummings said his voice trembling as he held back tears.

“I’m in the twilight years, but I am telling you we will not rest, we will not rest until we address this and see that justice is done. Look at ‘em, mother. We will not rest. So it is our watch, it’s our watch. We will not fail you," he said, and added, "I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

The injustice and institutional racism being meted out against Black America lie at the heart of why we saw parts of Baltimore being incinerated on Monday. Unfortunately, many political leaders are reticent to speak honestly about the problems within these police departments. After Monday night’s unrest, many, typically, tried to shift the focus from those vicious officers who killed Mr. Gray by breaking his spine to conversations only about the “thugs” or “hoodlums” who caused destruction. No amount of name-calling is going to make this crisis disappear.

Why can politicians talk about the hooligans who are using their police uniforms to brutalize and kill innocent Black men?

Think of this: while many are now talking about the violence in Monday’s uprising, we still haven’t heard a coherent reason from police as to why they arrested Mr. Gray. Is running away, after supposedly, making “eye contact” with police now supposed to be probable cause to arrest someone and summarily cause his death?

Would a White person, from a rich section of Baltimore, be arrested let alone be man-handled on something as flimsy as this?

Police allege they found a switchblade knife on Gray. This is a transparent attempt to criminalize this now dead young man in the minds of many in the public at-large. Is the suggestion that he wanted to confront three armed police officers who pursued him with the pen-knife?

Since Mr. Gray didn’t assault anyone with said knife, how does possession of a knife justify the brutal police actions?

It’s been over a week since the death of Gray and Baltimore officials still can’t give us basic answers to basic questions. Why was this young man stopped? How could he get injured in this way especially, when police claim Gray was arrested "without force or incident?"

Stop the coverups immediately. How can cops expect to be trusted when they lie in this obvious manner?

Mr. Gray sustained three broken vertebrae and a near completely severed spine and police officials still  tell us he was detained without “force?” This claim is also belied by the fact that police later admitted Gray should have been given medical attention before he was placed into the car—and at the point of arrest. This implies police already know Gray was seriously injured, initially, after he was tackled by police.

The silence of police in matters like this makes it virtually impossible to believe police in these cases.In this case, as in others, when the people question police we’re told to let the investigation runs its course. This tactic usually gives the appearance police have something to hide. If these officers did nothing wrong, why can’t they face the cameras and tell America how this young man ended up with such a broken body?

In police interrogations, police often implore witnesses, and suspects, to tell all they know about possible crimes and such. What message does it send about the integrity of police when police can’t come clean in cases where an innocent person loses their life—while in police custody? How long is it going to take before we hear a coherent story about why Freddie Gray’s life ended this way?

In the aftermath of Monday’s uprising, some politicians are focusing on talking about the “thugs” and asking for the protests to be peaceful. The truth is the “thugs” who created this incendiary situation are those police who abuse and murder Black people—and those politicians who call for peace on the domestic front, while they scream for war on the foreign policy front.

Why don’t these politicians ever speak out against the outrages we’ve witnessed by these murderous officers?

We saw the cold-blooded murder, in South Carolina, of Walter Scott who was shot multiple times in the back, as he was running away, from his killer Officer Michael Slager. We have heard many politicians denounce those who resorted to violence during these protests into police violence that precipitated with the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.

Yet the denunciation of murderous cops like Officer Slager are weak at best.

Political pillars in Congress are proving there utter hypocrisy in this hour of crisis. These folks are good at giving lectures about “maintaining law and order” and about respect for the “rule of law.” They are also very vocal when it comes to "Israel's right to exist" and her security.

When it comes to the domestic security of Black males here in the U.S., and their right to exists there is barely a whisper from Congress.

When Congress speaks so softly—if at all—about the criminal conduct of cops who victimize African-Americans do they really expect us to view them with any ounce of credibility?

Congress's inaction, in the face of overwhelming evidence of police brutality and murder directed against Black America, is a primary reason for the explosion of violence we witnessed on Monday.

If this reluctance to deal with the issue of police violence continues, the violent images we just witnessed will not be the last.

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