As if things weren’t bad enough.
I spent much of the weekend watching footage of Kathmandu, Nepal literally crumbled to pieces by a 7.8 earthquake. There were occasional reports on the volcanic eruption in Chile, and I’d switch to other news which really wasn’t much better. Fire, war, murder–in other words, the usual. I thought things were relatively okay in Baltimore, in spite of this being the location of the latest death of an unarmed* black man in police custody.
Today shows me just how wrong I was.
I don’t know much about the arrest, injury, and subsequent death of Freddie Gray. Frankly, neither does anyone else except for the arresting officers and the late Mr. Gray. The mystery of how he was supposedly walking and talking when he was put in the back of the van and ended up with a nearly severed spinal cord and crushed voice box is one that has not been solved yet. But the investigation has been fairly swift, and, since it involves the Feds, looks like it will be thorough.
The Baltimore PD has already essentially admitted they screwed up. The brass has also made it pretty clear that the officers involved not only made mistakes, but that there will probably be criminal charges of some sort. How do I know this? Because the line when something like this is usually, “We believe our officers acted appropriately, and we stand behind our brothers in blue.” But by saying that mistakes were made, and that further investigation is warranted, the department is throwing these guys under the bus. One of the six officers involved has pled the Fifth, which tells me something really bad went down. While the anger of the citizens of Baltimore, especially the African-American community is fully justified, I think all they had to do with this one is wait a couple of weeks. I don’t know that charges will come down, but it looks like things are leaning that way.
Peaceful protests were held, but things started going downhill. Today, after Gray’s funeral was held, rioting broke out on the streets of Baltimore. There has been looting, police vehicles have been burned, and at least seven officers have been injured. Who knows how many civilians have been and will be hurt. Tonight’s baseball game was postponed due to the rioting.
I get the anger. Like I said, it’s justified. But violence never is. And looting businesses that didn’t have anything to do with any of this bullshit is really unnecessary. The only people harmed by rioting are the people who are rioting and the innocents who happen to be in their path. Baltimore has pretty much turned into a war zone, with stupid people taking advantage of genuine problems to create havoc. If only rain were the only thing happening in Baltimore today.
*It’s been reported that Freddie Gray had a switchblade knife on him, and that’s what precipitated his arrest. But a switchblade against the firearms of six policemen really doesn’t count as a serious threat to me.