By now I hope all of you have heard about the riots in Baltimore. If you haven’t, this article does a good job at covering the backstory and events leading up to the riots. We think this is really important though, so we’re going to give you a brief overview of what everyone’s saying about Baltimore, race, and inequality.
So what happened in Baltimore?:
A man named Freddie Gray was arrested. The officers who took him into custody say he ran when they approached him, prompting suspicion- they later found a switchblade on him. Gray was injured at some point between his arrest and his arrival at the police station. He died due to a severe spinal cord injury.
Why is this causing so much controversy?:
We don’t know for sure what happened to Freddie Gray. There aren’t videos from the police van, so right now it’s essentially just the officers’ words against whatever conjecture people make- the case is undergoing investigation. Meanwhile, using Freddie Gray as a symbol of racism and police brutality, people are protesting and rioting in Baltimore. Some of the protests turned violent. The Crips and the Bloods are involved. Basically, there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of he-said-she-said, so people are getting pretty heated.
What are people saying in favor of the Baltimore Police Department and police in general?:
Maybe the way to avoid police brutality is to avoid doing illegal things. The protestors are just using this as an excuse to gang up on police. Not all the police are bad. There’s no proof that Freddie Gray wasn’t doing something wrong.
What are people in saying in favor of Freddie Gray and the protestors?:
The officers approached Gray for no reason, which means they probably just thought he looked suspicious because of his skin color. Only part of the protests are violent. The media is portraying the violent protestors as a majority when, in actuality, this is more about peaceful protests and starting a conversation about race. There’s no proof that the Officers weren’t doing something wrong.
What do we think?:
To me, this is clear cut. Gray went into that van fine and came out with a lethal injury. Now someone always says, “but not all police are bad!” or “there are some Black people who should be arrested!” I agree completely. That being said, right now we need to focus on the fact that police brutality IS a real issue and racism DOES come into play in a lot of arrests. It isn’t hard to realize that Freddie Gray was racially profiled and that it was very unlikely that he did anything in that van to warrant the kind of force that could cause a major spinal cord injury.
And if you’re one of the people saying that “racism isn’t real” or that “they’re just complaining”, just remember that people said the same thing during the Civil Rights Movement. You’re probably horrified by the way People of Color were treated in 1960s, so just imagine how people will be thinking of us 50 years from now.
We can do better. We should do better. I get that it’s easy to ignore things that don’t affect you directly, but we owe it to people like Freddie Gray and Mike Brown to have the tough conversations, really evaluate ourselves and our societies, and figure out where to go from here.