This isn’t complicated. What we saw in Baltimore was a demonstration of anger. These young people rightfully are pissed off at this system that brutalizes them, and which they know makes drugs and guns easily accessible in their community, and then turns around and fills their prisons with Black folks when they use them.
These young people know schools are a rip off. They know that they are considered second class (despite society’s claims of equal opportunity). They know the truth. Did anybody else notice the similarities between this and Palestinian children throwing rocks at Israeli occupation troops? This looks like Northern Ireland in the 1970s.
The picture of high school kids throwing rocks at the police speaks volumes. But what folks ought to really pay attention to is the sudden discipline of the cops. Kids were throwing cinder blocks at them and they didn’t shoot anyone. They have killed lots of folks for a lot less. Hell, Freddie Gray was just riding his bike.
Did anyone notice the restraint, the tactical retreats? The cops are operating like they would in an oppressed colony. And speaking of oppressed and colonized situations, that is exactly what is going on? What’s with the mayor and other Uncle Toms and Aunt Thomasina’s contention that they don’t know why the young people are rioting? “How does stealing jeans solve anything?” asked the mayor.
But I get the brother, at least he got some jeans. The system is beating folks that look like him down in the street, it’s locking them up and then using the fact that they were locked up to disenfranchise them, to dispossess them of every opportunity to find gainful employment and become self-sustaining human beings.
At least he got some jeans, but young Black men knows this system ain’t gonna give them what they really wants: justice. They know this is a war. Stealing jeans is an odd way to reclaim your dignity, but that’s what they are doing in an odd way.
What precipitated the April 27 outbreak was the system’s insistence that the community not have an organized protest. There should have been a militant funeral procession similar to what was held in apartheid South Africa, occupied Palestine, or in colonized Dublin. The Black Panthers buried their dead in a similar way and it directly sent the message that they were burying someone who had been murdered in a one-sided colonial-type war.
However, when you are in a war, you have to act like you are in a war. Monday, the day of the funeral, should have been stay-at-home day. Nobody should have gone to work. Nobody should have gone to school. It should have been a day of mourning for Freddie Gray.
Black Baltimore and its allies should have hoisted his body and carried him through the streets and given him the funeral of a martyr because that’s what he was. He was a soldier and didn’t know it. He was living in the country where he was always a potential victim.
The United States is at war with its Black population. Don’t believe it, just check out the reporting by the so-called objective press and notice how they parrot the “know nothings” in our community who keep talking about “Why they burning down their own stuff,” and “Violence is not the answer.”
Oddly, violence seems to work pretty well for the police and this government, which kills anything and anybody that it doesn’t like it. What do folks think these wars are about?
The corporate press is one of their tools in this war. Notice the press doesn’t hound the police or city government asking “Why are you locking up all these Black folks?” or “Why are you killing Black people?” They don’t camp outside the houses of the uniformed murderers and stick microphones in their neighbor’s faces and ask “What’s wrong with this neighborhood that you would harbor these killers”?
But that’s not news. They have been at war with us from the beginning, when our ancestors were spoils of an undeclared war. I don’t have to draw any pictures; our history is the history of exploitation, mistreatment and oppression. What has to happen is that we have to accept that as Malcolm X said, this corrupt system cannot produce justice for us or anybody else for that matter.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable,” said John F. Kennedy. While the system tries really hard to make sure funerals don’t turn into protests, they make sure that undisciplined and unorganized and angry youth will respond on an emotional level, so they can paint them as savages, which ultimately will make them even easier to make war on.
Justice, then peace.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.