As Baltimore Burns, Salon Says Police Morale Can Wait

When you want reasoned, well thought out, rational discourse on a subject, Salon is not where one goes

Police morale can wait: How the Baltimore riots should reshape Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s agenda
As the chaos in Baltimore has shown, it’s far too soon to shift our attention to the grievances of cops

Out of the many invisible and all-powerful forces that govern our universe, the cruelest must be Time. Whether you’re asking it to slow down for selfish reasons or to speed up for someone else, it doesn’t make a difference. Time is relentless and uncaring; it does not listen and it will not stop.

But even though it is ultimately an egalitarian ruler, wreaking havoc on the old, young, good and bad alike, Time seems to hold a special grudge against Loretta Lynch, the woman who, after an unprecedented delay, was finally sworn in on Monday as the 83rd attorney general in the history of the United States.

Of course, Salon’s (very Caucasian) Elias Isquith fails to mention why the nomination was held back (she’s an extremist, as well as Dems having a fit over a bill that would not allow use of the money for abortions). And, of course, Elias had to link the rioting, looting, arson, and general lawlessness to Lynch.

In many ways, the chaos in Baltimore is just the latest iteration of one of America’s saddest and longest-running stories. It is another example of what Martin Luther Kingonce called “the language of the unheard.” King was speaking then of the riots that traumatized much of the country during the summer of 1966. But the social ills he described as kindling for the riot’s fire — poverty, police brutality and malign neglect — are, despite the nearly 49 years that followed, still powerful forces in America today.

For this particular moment, though, it’s Baltimore Police Department’s documented history of lawless violence that’s been identified as the riots’ inspiration. Protestors and rioters — who, it’s worth noting, are usually not the same — cite as their catalyst the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man and Baltimorean. On April 12, Gray was arrested by officers from the BPD. When police detained Gray and put him in a van for transportation, he was walking; by the time the trip was over, he had a broken neck. He died on April 19th.

In no way should anyone defend the Baltimore PD. The information we’ve seen and the video puts the target for the issue squarely on their backs. Ta-Nehesi Coates notes the numerous violations by the Baltimore PD (as he dinks and dunks around the edges of saying the “protests” are cool). But, let’s consider: Baltimore is a 65% Black city. Of course police will have a heavier presence, simply because of patrol patterns. If they decided to ignore the Black community in favor of mostly patrolling the White and/or Hispanic populations, how would that go?

The city has a Black mayor, police chief, police commissioner, and 43% of the police department is Black. Eight of the fourteen city council members are Black. Not too mention the heavy hand of the Democrat Party in Baltimore. Exactly what have they all done for the Black community? This is much like Detroit, Birmingham, Gary, Indiana, Memphis, and so many other majority Black/Democrat cities with a heavy presence of Blacks/Democrats in government. How are they helping with the “social ills of poverty, police brutality and malign neglect”? They’re running the city!

I’m quite certain that, at least to some extent, Attorney General Lynch would agree. But that’s why it’s so unfortunate that news of her interest in “finding common ground between law enforcement and minority communities” came when it did. Because once the last stone is thrown, the fires are put out, and the state of emergency in Maryland is lifted, what Baltimore and the countless places in the U.S. like it will need is not another conversation. And finding “common ground” won’t be what America needs from its attorney general or its Department of Justice.

Interestingly, Baltimore is a Very Liberal city in a Very Liberal State. Why do these problems with police violence and the riots keep happening mostly in liberal/Democrat areas?

What will be needed, in short, is for the people most apt to use “the language of the unheard” to feel that someone who matters is finally listening. And that those in public office prove with actions that they believe it when they say an African-American life is worth no less than a cop’s. Now is not the time for Lynch to focus on making law enforcement happy. Now is the time for her to promote equal justice. Improving police morale can wait.

Equal justice. Yes. If the officers did wrong, they should be charged. Every looter/rioter caught on tape should be arrested and charged. Every person throwing rocks at the police and assaulting citizens should be arrested and charged. The sad statistic is that Blacks are over-represented within the crime statistics. The only ones making a case that a Black life is worth less than a police officers are those who are looting, rioting, assaulting, and burning property. Liberals/Democrats should take a moment to think why the attitude of Black lives being worth less than police officer lives is so prevalent within Liberal/Democrat cities.

BTW, Ta-Nehesi Coates observes

Now, tonight, I turn on the news and I see politicians calling for young people in Baltimore to remain peaceful and “nonviolent.” These well-intended pleas strike me as the right answer to the wrong question. To understand the question, it’s worth remembering what, specifically, happened to Freddie Gray. An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead. What specifically was the crime here? What particular threat did Freddie Gray pose? Why is mere eye contact and then running worthy of detention at the hands of the state? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

Gray had a long, long list of arrests for distribution of drugs, ie, he was a known drug dealer. Also for burglary, trespassing, destruction of property, and assault, among others. Of course the police were going to go after him when he ran. That doesn’t excuse what came next. But, Freddie Gray was no saint. The officers were patrolling a high crime area with a high level of drug use and distribution.

As for the “language of the unheard”, what of all the people who now have no jobs thanks to their workplaces being looted, destroyed, and/or burned? How about those who can’t drive to their job because their vehicles have been damaged/burned? How about all those whose property have been damaged, and now have to pay to get it fixed? How about all those who are in fear to simply go to school, the mall, a store, and in their homes? How about those who now have no homes, because they were burned? Where are their voices?

Update: because it’s Salon, here’s more bat guano crazy: Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy. Remember that the next time someone on the right is accused of something.

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6 Responses to “As Baltimore Burns, Salon Says Police Morale Can Wait”

  1. gitarcarver says:

    Of course the police were going to go after him when he ran.

    The problem is that the Supreme Court has ruled that seeing the police and running is not probable cause to chase someone down and detain them.

    The charge that was eventually laid on Gray was the possession of a switchblade knife. There are all sorts of problems here. First, getting a switchblade knife is very difficult. No one has seen the knife, but it is far more likely that the knife was a “drop knife” which is not the same as a switchblade under Maryland law.

    The police arrest statement says the officer “noticed the knife” attached to Gray’s pocket which mean if was not concealed,. which was another statement from the cops.

    This seems to be a case where the police lied or broke the law in every step they took. That doesn’t excuse the actions of the looters and rioters, but too many people are taking one group or the other.

    In my opinion, the bad cops need to bee arrested and charged, and the same goes for the looters and those who destroyed things.

    Interestingly, Baltimore is a Very Liberal city in a Very Liberal State. Why do these problems with police violence and the riots keep happening mostly in liberal/Democrat areas?

    I spent the majority of my life in Baltimore. When hear the names of the streets and see the pictures, they are familiar to me.

    But you ask a great question and there are multiple answers in my opinion.

    First, Baltimore has never really recovered from the death of Bethlehem Steel, GM, and other heavy industries in the area. Baltimore was a working class, blue collar city and when those industries left and nothing else of size and scope moved in, people were left with no jobs and no prospects in a suddenly white collar town.

    Secondly, like a lot of cities, the City Council thinks they own a business. In the recent past, Under Armor looked to expand their company. The company was founded in Baltimore and needed a bigger place. The company bought an abandoned property and looked to renovate it. The City made them jump through all sorts of hoops on everything from design to on site parking to traffic, etc. Under Armor nearly left, taking their jobs with them, but the company made statements that they wanted to work with the City, not be run by them.

    Public unions in Baltimore are VERY strong. (As are private unions.) Bad employees cannot be gotten rid of. One officer had over 40 complaints of excessive force proven against him in a 4 year span, and he was not fired. They couldn’t get rid of him.

    Meter readers were so inept that it was found that some residents had been paying double what they should have paid while other residents were not paying anything at all.

    The schools are failing in Baltimore as the teacher’s union prevents the firing of bad teachers. Consequently, good teachers adopt the attitude of “why bother?” and the administration doesn’t back the good teachers up. Parental support of schools is lacking as well.

    Baltimore is a mess and people would rather complain about it that work to clean it up. It won’t happen immediately, but the time to start is now.

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