It’s been a long, hard week for my City of Baltimore. Skipping to the nitty-gritty tonight. I have lots of questions. I want answers.
1. On Monday, April 27, 2015, when schools were letting out, why did the Baltimore Police Department and the City hamper the students’ ability to go home peacefully by blocking their access to public transportation–busses, subway, etc.?
This move effectively created the situation of unrest that occurred on Monday afternoon. I have even seen video, as reported by Mother Jones, indicating that the rock-throwing incident outside Douglass High School was instigated by the police. In other words, the riot gear-protected line of officers threw stones first at a corralled group of students.
2. Why was the bail for the young man who destroyed vehicles on Saturday, April 25, 2015, set at $500,000, whereas the highest bail set for the 6 police officers charged with Freddie Gray’s murder was only $350,000? And why have these officers already been able to post bail, while the property destroyer (to my knowledge) still sits in jail?
Are 6 municipal vehicles really worth more than 1 man’s life?
3. Do people have any understanding of the deep-seated, systemic and institutional racial/economic/social strata problems that have always lurked—and still do—just below the surface of this historic City that I love?
I have heard from more than one source that the Camden Yards riot was in part instigated by the “elite” patrons of the ballpark denigrating the demonstrators with hateful name calling. Think about that for a minute, please. Just let that disparity sink in.
4. Of the 6 officers arrested yesterday for the murder of Freddie Gray, 4 were of the same generation as Mr. Gray—between the ages of 25 and 30, with less than 5 years’ experience on the job, while 2 were 20+-year veterans of the force. Who are these people’s bosses? Who is holding them accountable? Why, and how, have we as a society gotten to this point, where the police are like rogue RoboCops—acting as an agent of control and force instead of serving and protecting the people?
The answers to this last question are as complex and convoluted as the society and the culture we Americans have crafted over the last 40-50 years. For the moment, I will leave this discussion to my more analytical readers/friends/bloggers/thinkers.
5. Why is Baltimore City still under curfew? Why must the entire city pay for the misconduct of the few?
Watching Police Commissioner Anthony Batts speak at back-to-back news briefs earlier this evening was like looking at a picture of a three-headed cat. At the first news brief, the first “head” spoke in authoritarian and smug terms about needing the curfew to keep the peace. At the second news brief, less than 10 minutes after the first, Batts at first spoke earnestly about—what else? The curfew and keeping the peace. But just before he left the podium, he made a lame and tasteless joke about the upcoming boxing match between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
This was quickly followed by an update from the commander of the Maryland National Guard, Maj. General Linda Singh who, with one careless statement about wanting to be able to dine at the Inner Harbor after this tour of duty, destroyed the trust she engendered in me in her interview last night with Deborah Wiener of WBAL TV news, wherein she made a very interesting observation worth considering: that when a state calls in the National Guard, it is calling in other residents of the area they are serving.
Gen. Singh spoke so passionately about this fact—that Maryland National Guard troops live and work in Maryland! They have ordinary jobs and lives, and they only work militarily when they are on duty. I get it—soldiers are people too [http://www.wbaltv.com/news/maj-gen-linda-singh-urges-for-peace-in-baltimore/32716714]. So why did she turn so surly in this evening’s news brief?
Finally (or at least, for now), I have one more question:
What happened to Mr. Freddie Gray before the bicycle cops dragged him across the sidewalk and dumped him into the police van?
It is clear from the video shot by one Kevin Moore that Mr. Gray was already incapacitated when the bicycle cops lifted him up from the ground. This flies in the face of City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s insistence at her indictment press conference that Mr. Gray’s life-threatening injuries were sustained while he was being transported in the van.
I am praying that the answers we get to these and other questions will be the truth.